I had a reliable battery pack that I’ve used for years. I passed it on to my sister for use and it was recently confiscated by airport security in China. The reason? The power bank doesn’t have any marking “stating the power bank capacity”. I had no idea it was a requirement.
What Are The Rules for Power Banks?
You should always check with your airline for the most up-to-date information. Power bank generally falls under the “batteries” category. I included the basics for some of the major airlines below. (Note: Items in bold are mine)
“Portable electronic devices containing cells or batteries (including lithium) and spares for these devices intended for personal use: Watch|Calculator|Camera|Cell Phone|Laptop computer|Notebook computer|Camcorder.
For lithium-ion batteries, a maximum of 2, not exceeding 160 Wh each, are allowed in carry-on bag with airline approval.”
“Personal devices (except for e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers) installed with a lithium battery of less than 100 watt hours are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage. Loose lithium batteries are not permitted in checked baggage on any United flight.”
Also, “If carry-on baggage is checked at the gate, any lithium batteries and power banks must be removed.”
Note: I take the information to mean that power banks are considered loose lithium batteries, and should not be included in checked bags.
“…consumer electronic and medical devices containing lithium cells or batteries (e.g. watches, calculators, cameras, cell phones, laptops, camcorders, hearing aids, etc.) is allowed onboard as carry-on. Spare lithium batteries are allowed as carry-on only.
Passengers are permitted to travel with lithium ion batteries that contain a maximum of 160 watt hours per battery. Lithium ion batteries installed in a personal electronic device can be transported as checked or carry on baggage.
Lithium ion batteries not installed in a device (spares) must be in carry-on baggage and no more than two (2) spares between 100 and 160 watt hours are allowed.”
“Power banks, also known as portable chargers or external battery chargers, are lithium-ion battery packs used to charge other electronic devices e.g. mobile phones, tablets, laptops. Stand-alone power banks are considered spare or loose lithium-ion batteries and must be transported in carry-on baggage only.”
Most airlines allow you to carry a power bank, but you’ll need to take it with you in your carry-on bag.
Airlines should clarify their position on power banks since more people will be using them. Is it considered a device that contains lithium batteries (true) or a “spare” (also true)? The only airline that made it very clear is Southwest. A power bank is considered a “spare”.
When I’m in the market for a new power bank, I’ll be sure to also look for one with a power rating displayed. I am not sure if it was a case of country specific requirement, but I certainly wouldn’t want another power bank to be confiscated at the airport.
Have you run into issues with carrying your power banks through airport security?