When preparing for a flight, you need to know whether certain technology is allowed on the plane with you, or if you need to put it in your checked bag. You may need to know if you can bring your phone, a laptop, or a power bank for extra battery life.
Are power banks allowed on planes? Mostly, yes. You are allowed to have power banks with you on the airplane for back-up battery power. However, certain ones aren’t allowed in checked bags, and certain ones aren’t allowed in your carry on.
A lot of people use their airtime to finish work, prepare for presentations, or just keep themselves entertained. Let’s talk about how to make that possible while still adhering to the rules of the airlines.
What Power Banks Are Allowed on Planes?
When choosing what power bank to bring with you on your flight, you need to be aware of a few rules. Overall, any power banks with lithium batteries are not allowed to be in your checked bag; they have to be stored in your carry on.
Why? There is always a small chance that the battery could explode in your luggage and cause issues in the plane’s cargo area. If it explodes in the cabin or starts a fire, the crew can fix the problem or put the fire out much easier and quicker than if it was stored in all of the checked luggage.
Any power banks in your carry-on have to be 100Wh or less to be allowed on most airlines. If you need to bring any power banks that are larger than that, you will need to get approval from the airline prior to arriving at the airport. Chances are if your power bank is larger than 100Wh, you will be asked to store it in a special part of the plane that is made for electronics such as power banks.
How Do I Know What Type of Power Bank I Have?
Most of the time, the packaging or instruction manual will have all of the information you need to know what size wattage your power bank is. If you were to buy it secondhand without the packaging, all recent power banks have all the wattage information printed somewhere on the power bank itself. If you were to have any questions from the TSA agent, that is the information you can show them to answer any questions.
Calculating the Wattage
On the off chance that you have a power bank that you cannot find the wattage information for, you always have the option to calculate the power yourself. There is a simple equation that allows you to figure this out, but first, you will need to know some measurements.
- Milliamp Hours(MAH) – How many hours the charge can be supplied to the target
- Voltage(V) – The output voltage needed to charge the intended mobile device
- Watt-Hours(Wh) – The number of watts supplied in an hour
Now that we know the numbers we are looking for; we can just enter them into the equation
Doing this will allow you to know if you are allowed to take this on the plane with you. I would bring your information with you about the power bank so that you can show the TSA agent the equation and work that you have done in case of any questions. But as was stated above, most power banks have all the information printed on the hardware already, making less work for you.
Power Bank Precautions
Some people prefer to take precautions with their power banks before they fly, only on the off chance that something was to go wrong with their power banks. Thankfully, the FAA has an app named “Lithium Batteries” that takes you through guided steps to prepare your power bank for whatever kind of travel you will be dealing with. Or, you can check this document.
One other recommendation is putting tape over all of the ports and connections to keep them from reacting with any outside stimulus.
If you were to have any questions you can’t find the answers to online or using the app, you can always call the airline and speak to a representative. They will be able to answer your questions, or at least find someone who can answer your question so that you can be the most prepared for your flight with the most accurate data.
Generally, we don’t have to worry about these issues with newer batteries as most newer power banks have internal safety features that short circuit in case of an internal issue. Once the devices recognize an issue with too much heat, or if it is putting out too much voltage, it shuts down. Thus, safeguarding against the problem before any injuries or explosions occur.
The Right Power Bank for Bringing on a Plane
After all of this information, you may need to shop for a new power bank, or you may feel like you are finally informed enough to go buy one for your trip. There are a large number of options out there, and you don’t want to waste money, but you want to make sure your mobile devices stay charged when you need them the most.
Generally, this choice is made easy for you by all of the advertising most products do on the boxes of their devices. The boxes will usually say how many hours of a charge it holds, put out, and usually, it tells you which device it is best used for as well.
In general, you will want to get a larger number of hours it charges rather than smaller just so you have it in case you need it, obviously staying below the 100Wh limit for planes. Using your resources like google or the employees of whatever store you shop at is also helpful. You might be able to find first-hand reviews of certain products that help you make a decision.
Packed Your Battery Wrong?
Are you on your way to the airport and realized your power bank is in your checked bag? You can simply grab it when you arrive at the airport before you check your luggage. However, if you accidentally forget about it and leave it in the checked baggage then you might face different scenarios based on the airline, airport, country, etc.
Some airports may find lithium batteries while scanning your bags and confiscate them. While other extremes could have you being denied boarding or deplaned. It all depends again on the rules that the airport follows.
One major issue airlines have experienced with batteries exploding is in 2010, when a cargo plane carrying lithium-ion batteries exploded due to the batteries. This caused the airlines to start restricting power banks that are too big or have lithium batteries. The chances of you causing a problem with your portable charger is very small.
Overall, you most likely will not have a problem taking your power bank with you when you travel. These restrictions are put in place to protect you and everyone else on the plane from the one in a million chance of a defect battery. You shouldn’t stress too much about not having your phone charged the next time you fly. The rules are simple to follow, and power banks that are produced now are mostly produced to comply with these guidelines.