Planning is sometimes necessary when flying with camera equipment to keep everything safe and compliant. Before boarding with camera batteries, please read the information below.
It’s almost a given that you’ll want to travel abroad with your camera equipment if you’re a photographer. Sorry, nervous passengers, but a single lithium battery that catches fire could possibly cancel your flight.
Because of this, there are strict guidelines regarding the use of camera batteries on airplanes that you must be aware of when you are packing your bag. Let’s delve a bit more deeply.
Are Camera Batteries Allowed on Planes?
Nowadays, lithium-ion batteries are almost universally used in cameras, and because they have been classified as a hazardous material (hazmat), they are subject to FAA regulations.
Let’s examine a few quotations from the FAA. They say this about spare batteries:
They [lithium-ion camera batteries] must be carried with the passenger in carry-on baggage. The cabin crew and passengers inside the aircraft cabin can help reduce smoke and fire incidents involving lithium batteries.FAA
And they also say this about installed batteries:
Devices containing lithium metal batteries or lithium-ion batteries, including – but not limited to – smartphones, tablets, cameras and laptops, should be kept in carry-on baggage. These devices should be completely off, shielded from unintentional activation, and packed to prevent damage if they are transported in checked baggage.FAA
Note that you are not permitted to pack extra, uninstalled lithium batteries in checked baggage.
If you pack camera batteries in your checked bag when the TSA screen your bag they will confiscate the loose batteries for your own safety and the safety of the other passengers. You are not prohibited from packing cameras with installed batteries in checked baggage but they “should be kept in carry-on baggage”.
The FAA would really prefer it if you don’t pack any lithium-ion batteries in checked bags. They don’t forbid it outright when the batteries are installed but they would like you to pack them in carry-on luggage.
Can You Bring Camera Batteries in Carry-On Luggage?
Yes, when they are spare, loose, and uninstalled, you can and must pack camera batteries in carry-on luggage. Be wary. If your carry-on is gate-checked because of a lack of space in the overhead bins you must remember to remove any camera batteries and take them with you into the cabin.
Any lithium batteries brought into the cabin must be under 100-watt hours (wh). Most camera batteries have a capacity of well below 100 watt-hours. If the spare batteries are under 100 wh, there is no restriction on how many you can pack in your carry-on bags.
Battery charging equipment is not regulated. Unless you’re discussing a portable battery charger that also contains a bigger lithium-ion battery.
Check with your airline if you plan to bring a battery with a capacity greater than 100 wh. You can bring two larger lithium-ion batteries that are between 100 and 160 wh. Carry-on or checked luggage is not permitted to contain any lithium batteries that are larger than 160 watts per hour.
Before you board the plane, check out these devices:
- Are Power Banks Allowed on Planes?
- Is a 20000mah Power Bank Allowed in Flight?
- Is a 30000mah Power Bank Allowed in Flight?
- Are Drone Batteries Allowed on Planes?
- Are Suitcases With Batteries Allowed on Planes?
How to Pack Your Camera Batteries?
There are several camera bags that are compatible with airline carry-on baggage restrictions. This is where you should probably keep the most valuable items that you can’t do without.
If there are batteries inside the bag, you won’t likely be required to put it on hold even if you do accidentally exceed the carry-on weight restrictions (which is easy to do with camera gear). You can rest assured that your camera is secure in the hard case if you are instructed to remove the batteries and check the bag.
Camera equipment can be safely transported in the hold as long as it is properly packed. My cameras are actually on hold whenever I fly. The bulk of the expensive equipment used by television crews is always flown in the plane’s hold.
The right packing inside Pelican cases (or something similar) will protect items from impact damage even if handlers are flinging bags around.
Additionally, you ought to maintain a duplicate backup of the images and videos you shot while traveling. Keep one hard drive in the cargo hold and bring another one in your carry-on luggage. This implies that you still have a copy on hand in the event that a bag disappears.
How Many Camera Batteries Can You Fly With?
The carrying of lithium batteries in an airplane’s cargo hold is now prohibited by international air travel regulations. You should ensure that all of your lithium batteries (almost all camera batteries) are carried with you in your hand luggage.
In accordance with the rules, you must also tape up the metal contacts on each battery to prevent shorting. You can use camera tape to avoid any sticky residue remaining on the batteries; do not use parcel tape as this will leave marks all over the batteries.
You are allowed to fly with two large lithium batteries between 101 and 150Wh as well as an infinite number of batteries under 100Wh (as long as they aren’t being used for resale). Just make sure that you aren’t exceeding the weight limit. Flights into and out of the USA, the UK, and the majority of other nations are subject to these regulations.
Batteries that are damaged shouldn’t ever be used for flight. You should dispose of batteries properly wherever you are if they are damaged in any way while you are traveling (including damage from water or impacts). It is dangerous to take these on the plane with you.
Conclusion: Board With Your Camera Batteries
Even though media professionals frequently travel, it’s unlikely that you will experience problems. It can be a little intimidating the first time you travel with more than a basic camera.
Only a fool would pack expensive camera equipment in checked luggage, even without the risk of fire. My recommendation is to store all of your priceless electronics, including laptops, tablets, and cameras, in your carry-on bag. That way if the lithium battery catches fire someone will be around to put the fire out.
Can You Take a DSLR Camera and Battery on a Plane?
Yes, you will be able to fly with a DSLR camera in both your hand and checked luggage. However, if you plan to travel with it in your carry-on luggage, as we advise, you should confirm with the airline that your camera will fit in the overhead bin and not require gate checking.
Can I Take Lithium Camera Batteries on a Plane?
Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal batteries and lithium-ion batteries, electronic cigarettes, and vaping devices are prohibited in checked baggage. They must be carried with the passenger in carry-on baggage.
How Many Camera Batteries Can I Fly With?
Power banks and cases for charging cell phones that contain spare lithium ion and lithium metal batteries must only be transported in carry-on luggage. With airline approval, passengers may also carry up to two spare larger lithium-ion batteries (101–160 Wh) or lithium metal batteries (2-8 grams).