If you’re planning a vacation, a business meeting abroad, or just a short weekend trip, you’ll probably want to get some of your electronic devices with you. Things like a laptop, a camera, your smartphone, and maybe, just maybe, a power bank or two. But did you know that some airline companies don’t allow you to take some types of devices and electronics with you? Were you aware that some airlines expressly prohibit you from carrying power banks on flights? Here’s why you might not be allowed to take power banks during flights, and what’s the general policy of major airlines in this regard:
Short answer: for safety! Your safety and that of the other people on the plane. Why is that? Well, power banks contain lithium-ion batteries, and batteries can catch fire. You don’t want that to happen in a plane a few miles in the air. Do you remember the worldwide scandal with Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones exploding or even last year’s Samsung smartphone catching fire on an airplane?
Fire is one of the most dangerous things that you can be faced with during a flight, especially if it takes place in the cargo luggage compartment, where it’s hard to locate and access in order to stop it. Thus, you are never ever allowed to carry power banks in the cargo luggage area, and you are not allowed to use them while flying. However, most airline companies allow you to carry a power bank with you in your hand baggage. Still, there are requirements for that too.
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In general, airlines allow you to carry up to two power banks with you during flights, in your hand baggage. However, each power bank must comply with regulations towards its storage capacity.
Usually, the rule is that your power bank should have a capacity of no more than 100Wh (Watt Hours) and a maximum voltage of 12V (Volts), although some airlines allow for up to 160Wh.
However, for anything above 100Wh, you might want to contact the company beforehand to make sure you don’t have a bad surprise during check-in.
Some power banks have their capacity printed in Wh (Watt Hours) on them. However, many power banks only tell you their capacity in mAh (Milliamp Hours), which is not the same measurement standard used by airlines. As mAh is not the same as Wh, you’ll need to calculate your power bank’s capacity. Fortunately, the formula is simple:
Or, you prefer the long version:
So, for example, a power bank with a capacity expressed in mAh of 12000 and an output of 5 Volts has a Wh capacity of 60:
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As you know now, during flights, most airlines allow you to carry power banks in your hand luggage, if you meet certain requirements. After searching the web for a bit, we found that some of the major companies that fall in this category include:
- Lufthansa: a maxim of two power banks, up to 160Wh capacity (if above 100Wh, carrier’s approval is required)
- KLM: no more than 20 power banks up to 100Wh each (up to 160Wh also possible, with permission from the carrier)
- American Airlines: up to two batteries, not exceeding 160Wh each
- Air Canada: maximum of two power banks with a rating of 100Wh but not exceeding 160Wh (above 100Wh, you need approval from the Air Canada’s airport agents)
- Delta: one or two power banks up 160Wh each (if higher than 100Wh, approval is required)
- Air India: up to 20 power banks per person; none can exceed 100Wh.
Even our national airline company - Tarom Romania - complies with the same rules: 2 power banks maximum per person, in carry-on baggage only, and you need approval from the airport agents if your power banks have a capacity larger than 100Wh. Batteries over 160Wh are forbidden.
So now you know that power banks are assimilated to the spare batteries category of goods by airlines. Furthermore, you know how many and how large the power banks you carry by plane can be. When you travel by plane, do you take your power bank with you? What was your experience when flying? Did different carriers allow you to board with your power bank? Let us know in the comments below.