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Air travel with lithium batteries- suggestions?

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Stephen Pickering
Air travel with lithium batteries- suggestions?
on May 12, 2017 at 5:00:48 pm

Hi there,

I found a post a year ago by Todd Terry about traveling with batteries. At the time he didn't run into any problems, but with the world the way it is I wouldn't be surprised if things have changed in just a year.

I have a simple shoot in Philadelphia, flying out of Chicago using United Airlines. I'll be packing only the small Canon C100 and an Atmos Ninja external recorder (both use Li-Ion batteries rated at <100Wh). Tripod and lights will already be at the shoot. It's a simple shoot, but a multi-long day shoot, so I'll need lots of spare batteries.

I came across this https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ash/ash_programs/... which I think tells me that I can have as many spare batteries as I want (for personal/business use, not resale) and that I can bring them on my carry-on luggage. I'm probably over thinking this, but since this is my first time in years flying with more than just a laptop, I wanted to be sure I'm not missing something or misunderstanding anything.

Thanks!

-Stephen



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Todd Terry
Re: Air travel with lithium batteries- suggestions?
on May 12, 2017 at 5:29:38 pm

I don't travel all that much but I had a recent flight for a job in Denver where, as usual, I was concerned about batteries but just did the same thing as the previous few times... all the gear was checked baggage in Pelican cases except for batteries which we carried on.

My carry-on bag contained two small Canon camera batteries (for my C300, I think the same batts your C100 uses), two goldmount bricks (for Astra lights) and a DJI drone battery for the Mavic Pro. Heading to Denver the bag sailed right through without a look. Coming back home the bag was inspected at the Denver airport, they looked at the batteries and did the explosives swab test on them, and sent me on my way with them. I will note that all of my carry-on batteries do adhere to wattage limits (ahem... at least that's what the labels on the bricks happen to say), but honestly I've never had them be given more than a quick look. Now... I don't fly with them a lot, but have a few times and have not had any trouble.

One thing I do do is put a piece of gaffer tape over the contacts and then put each battery in its own individual plastic bag. I don't know if that helps or not or is just overkill... but it doesn't hurt.

I think since you are only traveling with the little C100 batteries they shouldn't be given a second look... I wouldn't worry about it.

The last few traveling shoots we've been on have been much lighter-gear affairs so we have traveled with the gear. We're east coast(ish), and a few times we've had much bigger-gears shoots on the west coast and we shipped the gear separately from the crew... which although a little expensive was VERY handy and a lot less hassle. Sometimes we've shipped right to our hotel or even the shoot location... other times we've done hold-for-pickup at the closest FedEx location. I just mention that because if you are really nervous about it you could always ship the batteries separately. Those batteries aren't big or heavy so even overnighting them to your destination wouldn't be cost prohibitive.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Stephen Pickering
Re: Air travel with lithium batteries- suggestions?
on May 14, 2017 at 3:31:37 am

Hi Todd,

I appreciate your reply. I was hoping someone would confirm that it's still pretty easy as long as we follow their guidelines.

I have another trip first thing next month to Turks and Caicos Islands. I don't know what the airlines are that I'll be taking, but I wonder if that might be a good candidate for just mailing the equipment to the island. I haven't had a chance to research international rules for batteries, but the brief looking I did for tomorrow's trip appears that there are totally different rules we have to follow.

Thanks again for your tips!
-Stephen



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Nick Griffin
Re: Air travel with lithium batteries- suggestions?
on May 17, 2017 at 7:45:22 pm

[Stephen Pickering] "might be a good candidate for just mailing the equipment to the island. "

That you might find cost prohibitive. FedEx anywhere outside the US gets quite costly and I, for one, don't trust the US Postal system to "absolutely/positively" get gear anywhere when they say it will be there. Does FedEx even go to the Turks & Caicos these days? Didn't used to but I haven't been there in many years.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Air travel with lithium batteries- suggestions?
on May 17, 2017 at 7:40:41 pm

[Todd Terry] "One thing I do do is put a piece of gaffer tape over the contacts"

We do that all the time. All it takes is something metal touching the contacts and one will quickly have an actual "hot mess" on your hands.


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Stephen Pickering
Re: Air travel with lithium batteries- suggestions?
on May 17, 2017 at 8:15:58 pm

Thought I'd post back. O'Hare put the bags right through without a second look, but Philadelphia had to pull out the batteries and run them through the x-ray separately. It's possible I packed them differently on the way home. They suggested next time just to pull the batteries out they can see them more easily to avoid the extra wait. But, as suggested, there weren't any issues with them.

Nick, I haven't done much international shipping, especially to places like Turks and Caicos, so you're probably right that it would be cost prohibitive. I'm sure all the info is on the airline websites- I just need to look over my flight schedule.

Thanks again,

Stephen



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