Traveling with LiPo Batteries: A Guide for Air Travelers in 2024

If you’re planning to travel with LiPo batteries (lithium polymer) anytime soon, it’s essential to stay updated on the latest regulations and procedures. While some aspects remain unchanged, there have been updates worth noting since our last discussion in 2020. Let’s explore what you need to know about taking LiPo batteries on a plane and how to ensure a smooth travel experience.

Before You Go: Research and Preparation

It’s crucial to understand that airline policies regarding LiPo batteries may vary, with some being stricter than others. While FAA regulations serve as a baseline, it’s advisable to contact your airline directly to inquire about their specific guidelines. Additionally, if you’re traveling internationally, familiarize yourself with the regulations of countries you’ll be passing through and your final destination.

Handy Resources for Travelers

The FAA provides a helpful FAQ sheet on traveling with batteries, including information on LiPo batteries. This resource can offer valuable insights into the regulations you need to follow. Remember to focus on the Lithium Ion section for relevant details.

Key Points to Remember:

Carry-On Requirement: Unless securely installed, LiPo batteries must be transported in your carry-on baggage. For RC hobbyists, this means placing all LiPo batteries in your carry-on. Be prepared to remove them if a gate-check is necessary, keeping them in a smaller bag or case within your carry-on for convenience.

Watt Hour and Weight Limits: Most LiPo batteries are limited to 100 Watt Hours (Wh) and under 2 grams of lithium per battery. Airlines may permit larger spare batteries (101-160 Wh) with advanced permission, which should be obtained in writing.

Packaging Matters: Keep batteries in their original packaging to facilitate the screening process. This helps provide proof of the battery’s Watt Hours. Ensure batteries are clearly labeled with their watt-hour rating or calculate it beforehand if necessary.

Terminal Protection: To prevent short circuits, cover battery terminals with tape and store each battery in a separate protective sleeve or plastic bag.

Invest in Secure Cases: Protect batteries during travel by investing in secure cases. These cases provide an additional layer of protection, especially when batteries are stored in individual sleeves.

Avoid Damaged Batteries: Damaged batteries are not permitted for air travel. Ensure all batteries are in good condition before packing them for your trip.

Additional Resources and Considerations

The FAA and TSA offer comprehensive information online to help travelers navigate the complexities of flying with LiPo batteries. Regulations are subject to change, so stay informed before your journey.

If you’re traveling with a drone, research specific regulations beyond battery guidelines. Consider factors like parachute systems, which may impact the drone’s eligibility for air travel.

For RC enthusiasts, it’s essential to understand airline policies regarding checked baggage for items like RC cars or airplanes. Additionally, if your RC vehicle has an engine instead of a motor, different regulations apply, requiring careful planning.

Connect with fellow RC hobbyists to share experiences and insights on flying with LiPo batteries. Platforms like RC Nation provide valuable community support and advice.

By staying informed and prepared, you can navigate air travel with LiPo batteries confidently and responsibly, ensuring a hassle-free journey for yourself and fellow passengers.