We get asked this question from time to time, so we thought it might be a good time to give you the facts about traveling with power banks – specifically air travel with power banks. First, let’s go over some of the technical jargon and what these terms mean.
Probably the most confusing part to understanding what power banks you can and cannot bring on board an airplane stem from the power wattage, amperage listed in the power bank specs themselves. Most power banks these days have a designated power storage capacity listed in mAh (Milli-amps). You will traditionally see smaller power banks listed at less than 10,000 mAh’s….and those are just fine to bring on a plane with you and on your person (only in your carry-on bag). Power banks nowadays are being amp’ed up in size (no pun intended) and you will now commonly see 10,000, 20,000 and even 30,000 mAh sizes for sale. These larger storage capacity power banks can be used to power laptops and other more power hungry devices. And they can certainly power up your cell phone several times over on one single charge. For the business traveler, this size power bank would be ideal to carry with so you can continue to work on your laptop during flight. BUT how much is too much to carry on board an airplane? Let’s go over some of the common rules to all airlines.
Firstly, and most importantly, all airlines do not allow you to pack a power bank in a checked bag. Those bags will be loaded onto the plane and stored in the cargo hold for the duration of your flight and they can actually catch fire/overheat/malfunction. And without them being attended to, airlines and the FAA and TSA have set a strict rule to not pack ANY power banks in a checked bag – so know that – and don’t ever do it. If these are spotted in-luggage by x-ray, you bags will likely be plucked off the plane and you may be delayed departure while the TSA sorts it all out. At the very least your bags probably wont arrive with you – so there’s that whole hassle to deal with.
But now you’re left trying to figure out what power bank you CAN bring with you on board. The first confusing part is that rules speak of power banks in terms of watts, not milli-amps. Here are the official rules straight from the horse’s mouth.
FAA and TSA regulations regarding portable chargers:
In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration have a mission to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system and to protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. They are the two regulating bodies that decide which types of items can go aboard planes, including power banks and other batteries. These are the rules they enforce: Maximum capacity allowed: 100Wh (or up to 160Wh with special permits)
The FAA goes into precise details about taking power banks on planes: any battery that you take on board should not exceed 100Wh. External chargers or power banks are also considered to be a battery, and should not surpass a capacity of 27000mAh, or in other words, 100Wh. They also specify that batteries between 101Wh and 160Wh need airline approval, and anything above 160Wh is forbidden on the plane.
What if you NEED to carry a larger capacity power bank?
Some people actually need to carry high power batteries either for business, health or recreational reasons. In this case, they should contact the airline beforehand and obtain a permit for their batteries and power banks. In some cases, they check them into the special luggage area.
So you can see from their own specs that a 20,00mAh power bank is fine, but a 30,000mAh is over the limit, but you could request special permission to carry such on board. You would need to contact your respective airline for that though and do so well before flight and just showing up at the airport with it – unless you want it to be confiscated – which we will assume you don’t.
So now we know that the limit is 100 watts which translates to 27,000mAh. And honestly if you are looking to charge your cellphone or even laptop on a plane, 20,000mAh will suffice for a good amount of time. If you are planning on taking a very long flight, like overseas, then you may want to go to the trouble of requesting to bring a larger power bank on board so you can continue to work, or watch movies, or whatever. Keep in mind the limit even with permission is 160 watts, which translates to roughly 43,200 mAh…total (you are allowed a maximum of 2 power banks at no more than this total amount of milli-amps) And international rules may differ from the ones in the US, therefore, you should check the rules of your airline and on-route airports before raveling or even booking your flight.
Also, even when bringing on board in your carry on, you should do a few things as a precaution to the banks accidentally being activated….if you happen to have any conductive metals or materials in your bag this could actually happen! And make sure the power bank cannot be accidentally switched on. The best advice is to properly pack portable batteries in a way in which they are protected from potential short circuit. An efficient method is to pack them in the original packaging – so keep those boxes specifically for travel! Or, if the packaging has been lost, the terminals should be covered with tape and the battery placed in a case, plastic bag or protective pouch of some kind.
What about other kinds of batteries and even batteries within devices?
A lot of different portable devices have internal batteries such as shavers, flashlights, toys, and many others. These are allowed to be stored in the checked-in luggage, but they must be prevented from any damage or short circuit. The device should be off, and the owner should make sure that it won’t switch on by accident.
The only exceptions to this rule are electronic cigarettes and vaporizers, which are not allowed in checked-in luggage, and instead must be packed in carry-on luggage.
All our Baseus.io power banks are clearly listed as to their milli-amp storage capacity so you will never be in question. Take a look at all that we carry in stock, here: https://www.baseus.io/product-category/cell-phone-chargers-and-charging-devices/power-bank/
Footnote: Portions of this article were paraphrased and used as direct quote from www.powerbankexpert.com and specifically their article located here: https://www.powerbankexpert.com/faa-tsa-rules-bring-portable-chargers-airplane/ Powerbankexpert.com should be given and noted credit for this material.