The United States of America’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just banned lithium-ion batteries in the cargo holds of passenger flights.
For those of us in the photography world, that means you’re gonna need to lug around all of those batteries as checked in luggage. Sounds fun, of course, but this restriction was long in the making.
Citing safety concerns, the FAA and US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao called on stronger restrictions following 2018 guidance that “suggested” that lithium-ion batteries be stored as carry-on luggage rather than in the plane’s cargo hold.
Referencing the relevant passage, PetaPixel writes: “Devices containing lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries, including – but not limited to – smartphones, tablets, and laptops, should be kept in carry-on baggage. If these devices are packed in checked baggage, they should be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation and packed so they are protected from damage.”
There are also some changes coming to how lithium-ion batteries are shipped in cargo planes. From now on they can only have a 30% charge. Again, safety was the main consideration in making these rules.
In rare instances, lithium-ion batteries can explode and case a fire. That’d be a tough situation to deal with way up in the sky and, if the explosion were large enough, it’s really bad news.
You may recall Samsung’s issue with batteries some years back. As one of the more prominent examples of what could wrong, that also serves as a reminder of just how rare that kind of thing is.
Of course, it’s not hard to see why this is going to be a pain for a lot of passengers. Most modern electronic equipment is powered by a lithium-ion battery, and photography equipment can use some especially hefty batteries.
Traveling by air was already miserable enough, but it’s about to get a whole lot harder for photographers flying in the United States.