Are Power Banks Allowed on Airplanes?

Updated on: June 11, 2019

Many people have grown dependent on their smartphones to the extent that they cannot afford to let them run out of battery. That’s why they carry power banks just in case their phones run out of power.

Power banks have become essential items for almost everyone especially travelers. In a world where nearly every new concept is welcomed and embraced wholeheartedly by many, rules and regulations seem to change the game. That being said, power banks’ popularity became short-lived after numerous cases of fire outbreaks pointed accusing fingers to these gadgets. Please check out our best power bank buying guide if you want to learn which brand you should choose.

However, their production and use have not come to a standstill but restrictions on how and where to use power banks have compelled end users to tread carefully especially when traveling by air.

Inasmuch as taking a power bank with you is a necessity, prior knowledge regarding its use is paramount given that every flight and airport world over is on the watch out for safety reasons. As usual, every rule applies where it is appropriate and this is the same case with taking a power bank with you on a flight.

So, are power banks allowed on airplanes?

The answer is YES but this doesn’t apply to all power banks. The International-Air-Transport-Association (IATA) document for the transportation of Lithium Metal & Lithium-Ion Batteries as per the 2017 regulations states that:

“A Power bank is portable device designed to charge consumer handheld devices like a mobile phone or tablet…For a passenger to carry to the flight, a power bank is considered a spare battery and should be protected from short-circuiting and carried in the carry-on baggage only.”

At this point and time, you already know that power banks aren’t prohibited on the airplanes entirely and this should give you a sigh of relief if you are planning on traveling soon. This article will guide you accordingly on what you need to know about taking with you your power bank on the airplane, the capacity allowed, why some flights don’t allow these gadgets and the dangers of carrying them on a flight. Find out more in the subsequent paragraphs.

Power Bank Capacity Allowed on Airplanes

You cannot take with you any power bank on the flight. According to the directive issued by IATA, the capacity in watts hours (Wh) of the power bank allowed on an airplane should be under 100Wh. But you will need to carry your power bank for personal use only and should be carried around or in your hand luggage.

Most airlines won’t allow carrying these gadgets in checked-in luggage. On the other hand, if the indicated or rated power on your power bank is below100Wh, you will not need any approval to carry it with you when taking a flight. If it has the power rating of between 100 and 160 Wh, you can only take it with you on board after approval from relevant airport authorities. Keep in mind that every passenger is only permitted to take with them only two power banks when when boarding a flight.

It is not permitted to have a power bank that has higher than 160Wh capacity on the plane or that which has no identified rated power. Also, you are not allowed to take with you a power bank that has rated power which cannot be worked out using the marked parameters.

In case your power bank is in the form of loose spare batteries, the airline will let you bring them only in your carry-on luggage rather than in the hold. This rule applies to batteries between 100 and 160 Wh, although you are only restricted to two spare loose batteries when onboard. Supposing the batteries are rated over 160Wh, you are advised to declare it so it may be packed in the cargo under the category of Dangerous Goods.

How to Calculate Wh of Power Bank

When it comes to the calculating the capacity of your power bank, you should not find it to be a problem anymore. This is because the method used is simple and the formula is straightforward even to a layman. Below is the recommended method you can use to find the capacity in watts hours (Wh):

Take Milliamp Hours/1000 and multiply by the voltage to get watt-hours.

Use this formula:

mAh/1000 x Volts = Wh

Or

mAh x V/1000=Wh

If the total output voltage is 5V, the allowed capacity will come to 20000mAh. This means your power bank’s capacity is 200000mAh (which is equivalent to 100Wh) and that is applicable. Therefore, you can be allowed to board an airplane with it without any restrictions.

Reasons Why Some Flights Don’t Allow Power Banks

Power banks are literally batteries that are likely to explode or catch fire anytime. You can relate this to Samsung smartphone fiasco that rocked the world when most of these gadgets caught fire when charging. Such cases compelled airlines to take precautions when it comes to power banks on flights.

Apparently, no airline will let you carry your power bank in check-in baggage. This is due to the fact that the baggage compartment is a section of the cargo hold leading to the complete ban by all airlines worldwide.

This ban is not applicable to carry-on luggage simply because they are kept in the passenger compartment during the flight. Should they start fires, it will be easier for the cabin crew on board to notice and control in time before it wreaks havoc.

If power banks catch fire while in the cargo compartment, it will be extremely difficult to put it out given that no one monitors this part of the plane. Therefore, these gadgets are only allowed in the passenger cabin section and not in the cargo section for safety reasons.

How Dangerous is to Carry a Power Bank with you on an Airplane?

Carrying a power bank with you on a flight can be dangerous but not in most cases. However, leaving your power bank in the checked luggage can be detrimental and a recipe for disaster while traveling. Although there are non-zero chances of causing a catastrophe, power banks, especially those not allowed are a safety concern for flights.

These restrictions came into practice after numerous cases of accidents that were reported to have been caused by lithium batteries. A perfect example of such disasters is the UPS plane that crashed in 2010 at Dubai International Airport. The crash was confirmed to have been caused by the cargo lithium batteries and it became one of the major reasons to impose restrictions on passengers taking lithium batteries with them on flights.

Also, speculations are rife regarding the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 in 2014 with allegations of lithium-ion batteries cargo causing the crash. Even though there are no reasons to get scared while on board with your power bank, it is prudent that you play your part well in order for your flight to make it safely to your destination.

Can a Power Bank Explode on an Airplane?

Yes, a power bank can explode on an airplane and cause fires. If these fires are not detected in time and put away, they can cause unimaginable disasters. Definitely, you don’t want to visualize such a scenario given that cases of plane crashes are always catastrophic, to say the least.

Often times, numerous reports have emerged from different corners of the world where incidents of exploding power banks have been reported on several flights. For instance, there was a report of an exploded power bank aboard the Royal Brunei Airline but all passengers and crew on board were not harmed.

A similar case was reported on flight 3539 destined for Shanghai from Guangzhou where the fire started from a carry-on bag as a result of exploding power bank. Luckily, no one was injured because the fire was put out at the right time. These are a few isolated cases of exploding power banks on flights thus the need to take precautions when carrying these gadgets with you on an airplane.

Is a 20000 mAh Power Bank Allowed on Flight?

Yes, the 20000 mAh (at 5 volts) power bank can be allowed on the airplane. This is the recommended capacity for the power bank you can take with you on a flight.

General rules state that any power bank below 100Wh (which is equivalent to 2000mAh) can be taken to the airplane but anything above that capacity needs approval before a passenger can be allowed with it on the flight.

How Many Power Banks Can I Carry on a Plane?

You are only allowed to carry a maximum of two power banks on a flight on conditions that their watt-hour ratings should not exceed 160Wh for the consumer electronic devices. These power banks must be properly protected to prevent cases of short circuits leading to explosion and fires on board.

Conclusion

Essentially, power banks are gadgets designed especially for travelers who are always in need of keeping themselves busy or in touch with their loved ones through constant communication. Due to the risky nature of these devices, airlines have imposed restrictions on the capacity that a traveler needs to take on board.

At the moment, you can only take with you a power bank that does not exceed 20000mAh or 100Wh on the flight for safety reasons. As such make sure that you comply with all the rules governing the use of power banks so you may stay safe in the course of your flight.

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