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Flying and batteries

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Todd Terry
Flying and batteries
on Jun 21, 2017 at 4:03:21 pm

This has come up in this forum a couple of times before, so I thought I'd share a real-world story....

I had to fly to a shoot in Las Vegas last week, all of the gear was checked in big Pelican cases except batteries... which, per FAA regulations, were in my carry-on luggage. I had three small Canon camera batteries, a Mavic Pro drone battery, and two large goldmount bricks for powering Astra lights.

This bag is often inspected by TSA (which I totally understand, it probably yields a scary-looking x-ray), but it's always just handed back to me and on my way I go.

This time, though, heading out, they really gave the big batteries a look. I mean really. The inspector fretted over them for a while, looking at them and reading the labels, then called someone else over, and then handed them off to a third supervisor who took them away into some office for a while. He finally brought them back and sent me on my way.

This is the first time I've had any inspected so closely, but just does prove that it does happen. And thankfully clearly the manufacturer's labels showed that the batteries were below the 100wh limit for large lithium batteries.

The important part of that last sentence: "...the manufacturer's label showed that the batteries were below the 100wh limit..." I shall let you draw your own conclusions from that.

So, when flying with big batteries do be careful, or you might find yourself standing in line with something you can't board with. After sailing through security so many times with these I was getting a little cavalier in my "no worries" attitude, but it just goes to show that now and then they do check them. So be prepared.

Incidentally a crew member had gone through the same checkpoint 30 seconds before me with two identical batteries in his bag, and they weren't given a second look. And mine weren't questioned on my return trip home, either.... but it does happen.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Flying and batteries
on Jun 22, 2017 at 7:21:05 pm

Is it bad that while reading, I heard this in Jerry Seinfeld's voice?

"...and what's the deal with airlines and our lithium ion batteries? Am I right?"

TSA reserves the right to be entirely arbitrary and inscrutable, as well as being as reasonable or unreasonable as they wish, according to a random-number generator.

I've heard enough horror stories of people who show the agent the actual TSA-printed publication, specifically saying their what-ever-it-is is okay to take aboard, and still the agents have the right to arbitrarily say "no".

I could probably make a good retirement income with a stand at the air terminals to take rejected items and express-mail them to and from destinations for people.

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