New Regulations For Batteries When Flying That Will Annoy Photographers

New Regulations For Batteries When Flying That Will Annoy Photographers

In preparation for my most recent flight, the airline sent me an update on their new baggage regulations in regards to batteries. Going forward, some airlines will be imposing new rules when it comes to flying with batteries. These new regulations are especially annoying to photographers as we not only tend to often fly with batteries, but we also like to bring along several sets of backup batteries as well.

Note: that these regulations may vary from location to location and airline to airline so it is always best to double check with your airline before flying. 

 

No Naked Batteries in Checked Luggage

This one rather surprised me but it seems to be out of some sort of fear of the batteries leaking or causing a fire. Perhaps fear related to Samsung's recent battery problems in their phones. Who knows? The rule is rather simple. Batteries installed within devices may be checked in your luggage as usual but batteries that are on their own cannot be placed in checked baggage.

Naked Batteries in Carry-on

Naked batteries, however, are still allowed in carry-on with one caveat. There must be no risk of their ends ever touching the ends of another battery. The airline I flew with addresses this problem by demanding spare batteries be packed in one of four ways. 

  1. The batteries are still in their retail packaging.
  2. The batteries each are in their own isolated container. (Such as wrapping each battery in cling wrap)
  3. The batteries have the connectors on either end completely covered with tape.
  4. The batteries are stored in a protective battery container.

 

This particular one seems incredibly unnecessary to me and after spending an hour taping sixty batteries it also reached a level of mythic frustration. There isn't anything to be done, though, unfortunately. The airlines and airports make the rules and if we want to use that service we need to follow them. Personally, I opted for the tape route as I had no time to go hunting for a battery case that met their requirements. 

Conclusion

As more and more airline security becomes layered on traveling becomes more and more annoying for photographers. Half of our gear can easily be misconstrued as a threat while the other half already has bizarre limitations or rules about how it can be transported. Make sure to stay vigilante and always be mindful of what the latest regulations may be as it could save you from encountering a giant headache next time you wish to fly.

 

 

 

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45 Comments

They sure are making things more and more complicated not only for photographers but everyone. One day they might not even allow people on aircrafts anymore if you don't "look" right :D or are not "packaged" right

Spy Black's picture

" One day they might not even allow people on aircrafts anymore if you don't "look" right :D or are not "packaged" right"

https://www.google.com/amp/www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/mus...

Anonymous's picture

It really doesn't seem like a big deal to me, and personally I like using those cases to keep my charged vs. discharged batteries organized when I travel. I have the 4-battery cases and a piece of grip tape labeling which is which so I always have a fresh set. I do agree that it seems like a knee-jerk reaction to the Samsung issue, though.

Nick Viton's picture

Same. All my batteries are already stored and numbered as sets in 4-battery cases. However, I simply stagger battery orientation within the case to denote depleted batteries. No need for grip tape!

Anonymous's picture

LOL, I always overcomplicate things. I'll have to do that going forward.

Joe Schmitt's picture

I use Eneloop battery cases and always open the cover to the left. When the positive side is up, they're charged. Upside down...depleted. Just gotta find a system and be consistent with it.

Drew Pluta's picture

Exactly my system!

Exactly what I've been doing for years too - so simple and allows you to tell at a glance if that box has a good set or a dead set.

This is sensible after all who wants a fire in the hold which no-one can get to whilst in the air?

Why would you ever need to fly and carry 60! batteries with you?

Tomash Masojc's picture

Easy, for example you are strobist, you have 4-5 flashes, and you bring at least 2 packs of charged batteries for every flash.

Anonymous's picture

Even in the case of a strobist: each flash should have one set of batteries installed, resulting in one spare set of batteries per flash, which needs to be packed in hand luggage. 60 batteries would then equal to around 15 flashes (if each flash takes 4 batteries). I'm not sure but such an amount of flashes might indicate that it could be sensible to rethink the lighting method(s).

Anyhow, the rule that LiIon batteries shall not be packed in checked luggage (if not installed in gear) is already much older that the Samsung Note 7. Some years ago, Qantas had a fire in a plane caused by the transportation of such batteries (and Boeing's Dreamliner also had problems with it's batteries, resulting in fire). I think that the Samsung Note 7 made some airlines just more aware and pushing harder on fulfilling the rules.

Tomash Masojc's picture

5 flashes + 2 packs for every - 5x4 in flashes and 2x4x5 charged extra = 60. You think 5 lights sources it is a lot? check russian photographer Ilija Rashap works - 10 and more lights.

David Liang's picture

2x4x5 is 40 batteries. And 5 really is the limit if your doing stuff on location. 2 background lights, 2 rim, 1 key. Or 2 bg, 1 rim, 1 fill, 1 key. etc. If you need more...I really want to see what it is you're trying to achieve.

Tomash Masojc's picture

and 20 in flash already :) pls try to understand, what there are different types of photography, a lot of people use lights for artistic look Just for example:http://art2photo.com/download/!NEW/1543w_1200.jpg

He use seperate light for every detail and person in the picture

Anonymous's picture

You don't need to tape the batteries in the flashes. Thus, your example gives 40 batteries to be taped...

There is only one sun in the sky. Using tons of light sources might result in an uncontrolled way how the light is falling (giving an unrealistic effect).

Examples in the linked photo: where does the warm light on the lady in red come from? (The projector has colder light). Also, it is not clear how the man in the chair can be so much brighter than the lady in the darkish dress? (The lamp should spill much more light on her.)
If the photographer's intention was an unrealistic look: ok.

Tomash Masojc's picture

yes, its like stopped frame from movie :) i can;t say that he wanted or that intentions was. Just showed you an example. Ofcourse all lights was continuous.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

how do these regulations affect camera battery packs or batteries for strobe like Hensel or Profoto? I put a piece of tape on those after I charge them anyway so I know it's charged up.
What kind of batteries were you taping? I'll guess rechargable AA? I carry some of those but not that many and they are already in a plastic carrier thing....I also buy a bunch of AA at Lowes, or Staples once I get to where I am going.

Battery carriers are cheap and widely available, *especially* for the AA battery form factor. I have boxes that hold 12 batteries at a time, which I use to store my Eneloop Pros, as well as battery caddies to hold groups of four. An example of the caddies are here: http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=72292&cat=1,43326,51918

You can get cases from camera stores, London Drugs, B&H online, Thomas Distributing online.

And slightly OT but hopefully still valuable info: the cheapest I've been able to find Eneloop Pros in Canada is off of Dell.ca -- and they include free shipping.

Well I guess I'll have to stop flying with a Pelican case full of loose AA batteries like I always do.

Leigh Miller's picture

Better safe than sorry...I'm surprised it took this long for them to start making an issue of this. I'm sure nobody wants their plane in the ocean because a handful of people have loose batteries rolling around in their luggage.

While 'naked' AA batteries might not seem dangerous, the growing popularity of higher voltage and current batteries like 18650 (my gimbal runs off 3 of these), are VERY dangerous. While building a prop, I accidentally shorted one of these out, and a contact spring melted through the battery case in seconds. Imagine that happening in your bag in the cabin, uncontrolled!

Tomash Masojc's picture

Or what could happen if you are vaping :D

Will Neder's picture

How many plane fires have been caused by carry on batteries? That seems like a relevant bit of info.

Anonymous's picture

Good point, but I think one fire would be too many, at least if I'm on the flight! Actually, if you read about the development on Boeing's latest plan which uses lithium ion batteries, they had lots of trouble with the batteries causing fires and had to build a special containment unit for them because it was happening so much.

Jay Jay's picture

Ok. I'm not quite sure what the problem is since it only costs* $1.99* for 6 of those clear cases on Amazon like you have pictured above. As in... under $2 bucks and with free shipping. All of my batteries are in battery cases like this, because who is crazy enough to store them loose in their bag and risk a fire if the contacts touch metal? It also makes packing a snap- grab a few of these loaded up, toss them in, and you're good.

Instead of taking an hour taping batteries (did you try to carry them on the plane loose?? Hopefully you wont ever do that if i'm on the same plane, bc that is *not* gonna work), i'll sell you a set of 6 clear storage cases for $2 bucks, because i'm nice like that.:)

I'm working as an avionics technician for a day job and knowing how frail and vulnerable aircraft actually are - without any serious fire fighting capabilities while being airborne - I'm fully siding with the airlines in this case. Sloppily packaged batteries bringing down only one airliner would be one too much.

A battery expert just recently called a battery "a bomb that discharges its energy in a controlled fashion". So true; I've seen large nickel-cadmium aviation batteries going off like a volcano or exploding, flame-belching lithium-polymer model airplane batteries. Apple had self-incinerating iPods some 15 years ago, Sony's lithium-ion 18650's in the mid 2000s cost them a fortune after setting laptops of multiple manufacturers on fire and Samsung right now had to kill their flagship phone due to uncontrollably discharging batteries. Not to mention Boeing's woes with the Dreamliner's lithium batteries.

I guess no one wants to live through the harrowing experience of flames and smoke violently shooting into an aircraft's cabin while cruising at 38,000 feet above ground and nothing but a thin aluminum shell and air between oneself and that ground. Up there there's no way of just pulling over to the curb and jumping out of the vehicle like you could do on the highway. So please be careful and attentive when packing your batteries to take them along in your flight baggage.

still safer than carrying a Samsung Galaxy S7

Seeing as the alternative is not being allowed to carry batteries it isn't so bad.

I've done it before and you're right. its not all that bad. Checked in my camera gear in a pelican and and kept all my batteries in my carry on. I had 3 x Fuji XT2 Batteries, 2 x Elinchrom Quadra ranger lithium batteries, 2 x DJI Osmo batteries, 8 x AAs 4 x AAAs and even going through the X-Ray they security just as me " did you forget any other batteries?' we laughed and I moved on. Simple.