I see the question of "is this allowed on planes?" on most large battery pack deals. Instead of continuing to comment on each, I've decided to post my article here so that others can simply reference this post. Post largely taken from my hobby travel website (which is not a store).
If anyone has constructive feedback, I'd love to hear it. If anyone would like me to create a post for a similar topic, feel free to comment a suggestion.
With phones, laptops, cameras, drones, and speakers, these days we are reliant on portable battery packs, or “power banks”. Unfortunately, batteries can cause sudden fires. Therefore, airlines have strict legal requirements about how batteries are transported.
Note: While this post is accurate, to the best of my knowledge, as of 31/05/2023: You are responsible for your own research. For the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s most up-to-date guidelines regarding batteries, visit the CASA website.
Quick Reference Table
|5,000||19||Safe to carry-on|
|10,000||37||Safe to carry-on|
|15,000||56||Safe to carry-on|
|20,000||74||Safe to carry-on|
|25,000||93||Safe to carry-on|
|27,000||100||Limit without airline approval|
|30,000||111||Seek airline approval|
|35,000||130||Seek airline approval|
|40,000||148||Seek airline approval|
|45,000||165||Illegal to bring on plane|
Carry On vs Check-In
The reason battery packs that are allowed to be carried-on aren't always allowed to be checked-in is because a battery-fire beneath the plane would be extremely difficult to extinguish mid-flight.
Separate spare batteries must never be packed into checked luggage, no matter the size. Batteries that form part of a device, such as a laptop, are sometimes allowed in checked luggage regardless of size. But, as it can be a huge inconvenience to rearrange all your luggage, and for best practice, it’s best not to risk being told to move devices from your check-in to your carry-on – especially since it may put your carry-on over a weight limit. My advice is to pack so that your electronics are in your carry-on if possible. This will also ensure your that expensive electronics are less likely to be stolen or free-thrown.
mAh vs Wh
Airlines and aviation authorities grade power banks by Watt Hours (Wh). The confusion is introduced because power banks are generally marketed in Milliamp Hours (mAh). mAh is a measure of a battery's capacity, while Wh is a measure of consumption (at one watt per hour).
Don't worry, there is an easy equation we can use to find the exact Wh rating: Simply multiply the voltage (V) by the milli-amp hours (Ah), then divide this by 1000 to find your Wh.
3.7 V battery with a 10,000mAh hour rating is 37 Wh (V x mAh / 1000 = Wh).
The vast majority of lithium-ion power banks are 3.7 V. This is the voltage used for the quick reference table 😉
Under 100 Wh
If your power bank is under 100 Wh then you can usually keep it in your carry-on luggage on the plane, but it cannot be stored beneath the plane. Airlines and overseas regulators may have additional requirements, including for specific devices. Batteries without on/off buttons may need to be declared even if they're <100Wh.
Over 100 Wh
If your power bank is between 100Wh and 160Wh you may still take it with you, but it will probably need to be cleared by the airline. Some airlines, such as Air Asia and Air New Zealand provide blanket approval without any declaration.
AUSTRALIAN DOMESTIC AIRLINES
- Virgin will approve 2 spare battery packs, 101-160Wh, when declared at check-in.
- Rex will approve 2 spare battery packs, 101-160Wh, when declared at check-in.
- Qantas and Jestar will approve these batteries but require prior-approval via an email to <[email protected]> and declaration at check-in. Approval valid for 12 months.
INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES TO AUSTRALIA
- Air New Zealand allows 2 spare battery packs, 101-160Wh.
- Singapore Air allows 2 spare battery packs between 101-160Wh, or 1 x 161-300Wh*.
- Emirates will approve 2 spare battery packs, 101-160Wh, when declared at check-in.
- Cathay Pacfic allows 2 spare battery packs, 101-160Wh, when stored in separate bags, or one 161Wh-300Wh* battery with approval.
- Air Asia allows 2 spare battery packs, 101-160Wh.
- Malaysia Airlines will approve 2 spare battery packs, 101-160Wh, when declared at check-in.
160Wh+ battery packs are sometimes allowed for specific device types, such as for medical and mobility devices. If you are travelling with these batteries, I highly recommend checking with each airline you plan to travel with, specifically for the route you plan to travel. Some airlines don't accept these batteries at all.
Outside of Australia
This article relates to flights from, to, and within Australia. Airlines in Australia must operate within CASA regulations, though they may also enforce their own stricter policies if they choose. Other jurisdictions may have their own regulations, and there are thousands of airlines which may enforce their own policies. The good news is that the International Civil Aviation Organisation revised its recommendations in April 2023 to universalise regulations, and these recommendations are in-line with Australian practices.
a) each battery must be of a type which meets the requirements
of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III,
b) each battery must not exceed the following:
— for lithium metal batteries, a lithium content of 2 grams; or
— for lithium ion batteries, a Watt-hour rating of 100 Wh;
c) each battery may exceed 100 Wh but not exceed 160 Wh rating for lithium ion with the approval of the operator;
d) each battery may exceed 2 grams but not exceed 8 grams
lithium content for lithium metal for portable medical electronic
devices with the approval of the operator;
Essentially, batteries <100Wh undeclared, or 101-160Wh (limit of 2) declared at check-in, will likely become the norm. Many "operators" (airlines) already have blanket approval (without declaration) for 2 x 101-160Wh lithium-ion batteries, as is the case with Air New Zealand. Until the standards are universalised, it's best practice to check with your airline if you're flying outside of Australia.
It's better to have 2 x 20,000 mAh than it is to have 1 x 40,000 mAh, because:
- You can share the second device
- If one is lost, you have a backup
- You can charge more devices (as you have more ports)
- You can carge two batteries faster than you can charge one
- You don't need to declare <100Wh
When packing multiple batteries, it is a requirement of some airlines that they are in separate bags, such as ziplocks. They can then be placed into a larger bag.
If battery terminals are exposed, such as with loose drone batteries, airlines may require that they be covered (e.g. with tape).
If you do carry 101-160Wh batteries, they are no less likely to be refused than <100Wh batteries, assuming they're in good condition. Where declaration is a requirement, it is mostly a formality - I've never had a >100Wh battery actually be inspected. I do suggest taking a photo of the specifications printed on the battery, as these can rub off over time. If you have a large battery and can't prove that it's <160Wh then it may be confiscated. Other reasons a <160Wh battery may be confiscated are swelling, cracks, and other visible damage.
Consider the wattage you need to power your devices. A 2023 MacBook Air can be charged with a 30W, while other laptops may require 65W or more. The total output of a battery pack will also be split amongst its ports and fluctuate depending on the number of devices connected. You will need to take this into account.
JUST TELL ME WHAT TO BUY!!1!
ALLPOWERS S200 Portable Power Station 200W 154Wh 41600mAh - "I brought the home office with me."
Xiaomi Zmi No.20 210W 25000mAh - "I need to charge my drone, camera, phone, and laptop."
ROMOSS 20000mAh 18W Portable Charger - "I just want to charge my phone."
Other than that, I hope I've provided you with enough information to do your own research and find a battery that suits your needs. Take it to the comment section from here :P