Lithium batteries prohibited on airlines?

**DONOTDELETE**

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I just checked the list of prohibited hazardous items on Northwest Airlines, and it includes "Lithium batteries (flammable gasses, dangerous when wet)". See
http://www.nwa.com/features/dgpolicy.shtml

Anyone noticed this on other airlines? Seems ridiculous that, while I can travel with ammunition for my .357, I can't take batteries for my E2.
 

d'mo

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Teamplayer,

Lithium metal is known to explode violently when exposed to water. Around 1995, a Syracuse University (or possibly SUNY ESF) chemistry student was severely injured by tossing lithium metal into a toilet as a joke. I'm not sure if the lithium compounds in batteries would have the same explosive results if exposed to water, but I suspect they are quite safe. Besides, almost all digital watches, PDAs, and laptops use lithium button batteries. I doubt the airlines would want to ban all of these devices from flying as they would lose virtually all of their business travelers.

The warning is likely intended for batteries containing significant amounts of lithium metal, not AAs, 123s and button cells.
 

d'mo

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DonL,

Believe it or not, I actually checked a stupidly heavy sealed lawn mower battery onto a commercial flight with no questions asked. This is after being refused by UPS and FedEx! Of course, this was prior to 9/11.

You would be surprised what people actually carry on flights: Coming home from Japan on a Canadian Airlines flight a few years ago, I witnessed passengers trying to cook their dinner with a lit can of camping fuel. A week later, passengers were prohibited from taking any more than a tiny quantity of any liquid on any transoceanic flight yet I continue to see large hand-carried bottles of mouthwash, perfume and alcohol. We have to ask ourselves, what is REALLY in those bottles?

On other flights to the Philippines, I've seen passengers carrying or automobile parts packed with grease, cleaning solutions, huge quantities of WD-40 (flammable) and countless other nasty items. I understand that it's better to error on the side of caution, but if excessive laws and regulations only harm the average person. It's the old scenario that if one person does something bad, everyone is punished by altering the rules for the entire group. Like any sane person, I believe that safety is of primary concern, but without realistic, consistent and enforceable guidelines, any regulations will be hit-and-miss by airport security. We've seen dozens of examples of this since 9/11

The web site, equipped.org, has an excellent editorial (http://equipped.org/editorial_092701.htm) by Doug Ritter pointing out that many of the new airline rules are simply window-dressing and don't adequately address "real" safety issues.

Taking away our flashlights because they have lithium batteries is not going to prevent tragedy, but may cause tragedy if it leaves us ill-prepared for emergencies. the same goes for Multi-tools, PSKs, etc.

Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now...
 

DonL

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Teamplayer, that's a valid point. The last 8 months have been sort of a free-for-all when it comes to setting flying regulations. Hopefully soon, common sense will prevail, but this is the government we're talking about, so I'm not holding my breath.

I shouldn't make too many assumptions, since I haven't flown since 9/11, but on a number of occaisions since 10/99 with no trouble.

The brightside is that there have been people here and at SFDB discussing flying since 9/11 with flashlights (Surefire and others) and having no problems, other than occaisionally having to turn them on to "prove" they light up.

I checked United and Delta, and neither of them mentions "lithium batteries" as a specific danger. Value Jet in `96 led all the airlines to examine how they've been shipping commercial goods on passenger flights.

D'mo, you're a braver man than I to stay on those flights. I've heard stories about old Soviet airliners having ropes for seat belts, but dinner at your seat and carrying on a transmission is another thing.
 

**DONOTDELETE**

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I'm planning to fly Northwest from KC to LA on Tuesday, catching a connection to Sydney, Australia on Qantas. I'm taking 7 pair Lithium AA batteries, and will report back any problems.

My guess is that they won't ask / notice that the AA form factor batteries are Lithium anyway, especially with the bicycle and other junk I'll have for them to go through
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I did look into this issue a while back, and found the following information on International Air Transport Association site:
http://www.iata.org/cargo/dg/awareness/index.htm

"Batteries
Dry cell, lithium, etc -- special concern must be given to large batteries which contain corrosive liquids, but in general, dry cell batteries such are used in flash lights and radios etc are not considered to be dangerous goods. However, when transporting batteries of any type, you should take to pack them in such a way that short-ciruits can't occur."
 

rodmeister

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I work at a major airport and spoke to a baggage loading supervisor last night. We were talking shop, about aircraft icing and condensation. He mentioned that airline baggage containers occasionally fill up with up to a half-inch of condensation water, depending on weather conditions, during aircraft descent.

Lithium batteries in checked baggage should be placed in plastic baggies or other waterproof containers for safety.
 

brightnorm

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rodmeister:
I work at a major airport and spoke to a baggage loading supervisor last night. We were talking shop, about aircraft icing and condensation. He mentioned that airline baggage containers occasionally fill up with up to a half-inch of condensation water, depending on weather conditions, during aircraft descent.

Lithium batteries in checked baggage should be placed in plastic baggies or other waterproof containers for safety.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

rodmeister,

If this is a significant hazard, it should be more widely publicized on our board. I suspect that it's something that few or any of us knew.

Perhaps a separate post headlining the contents would be appropriate. You'd be doing all of us a favor, and perhaps preventing some unfortunate consequences.

Brightnorm
 

brightnorm

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teamplayer,

I have flown several times since 9/11 carrying a variety of flashlights.Only once was I asked to open up a light: the Inova X5
apparently intrigued an inspector at Miami airport. When I emptied out those bright red Surefire 123's she asked me what kind of batteries they were. I just said they were "ordinary camera batteries" and she was content.

Brightnorm
 

lemlux

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Yesterday I mailed a 7.2 NiMH battery pack to Klaus. I had to specifically declare the contents for export mail. The postal clerk told me she was 90% plus certain that any mailed batteries would be rejected as unacceptable for international air mail.

Accordingly, Klaus' battery is being mailed surface with an extimated delivery time of 12 1/2 months.

Enforcement is most probably random with decisions arbitrarily made by technically uneducated people who are encouraged to err on the safe side. I have received batteries in the mail from a Canadian supply house, for example.
 

DonL

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If I may gently point out:
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Here are a few examples of the kind of dangerous goods that will not be accepted on passenger effective November 1, 1999:

Oil-based paints (flammable), paint thinners
Industrial solvents
Insecticides, garden chemicals (poisons / corrosives)
Lithium batteries (flammable gasses, dangerous when wet)
Magnetized material
Chainsaws, outboard motors used and not purged of fuel
Camp stoves
Automobile batteries
Infectious substance shipments
Any compound, liquid or gas that has toxic characteristics
Clorox bleach
Adhesives that are flammable in nature
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Essentially, this has technically been in effect for ~ 2-1/2 years, but myself and quite a few others have flown with Surefires in this timeframe, with no questions asked.

Looking further at the list, there are items such as automobile batteries, Clorox bleach, chainsaws, insecticides, solvents...

How many people actually fly with this kind of stuff on their person?
confused.gif


I would, instead, actually interpret this rule to mean that "shipments" of the items above can't be transported on a commercial passenger flight.

The only exception I can think of is what the definition of "camp stove" is. Small backpack stoves are allowed to be transported packed in a backpack as long as there is no fuel transported along with it. I've never tried to fly with my Coleman.
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**DONOTDELETE**

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Gently replying likewise, the past 2-3 years is nothing compared to the things that have happened in the past 8 months. I haven't flown since Sep. 5, when I took my SF on Continental, so I'm unsure what to expect when I fly soon. But the elevated scrutiny of baggage contents and articles on a person's person makes it likely that someone with a hazardous material will be caught by the occasional well-informed screener.
I know I can't take pepper spray.
 

d'mo

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DonL

I didn't have a choice about staying on the flights. The "Sterno incident" happened about 4 hours out of Narita bound for Edmonton on a continuing flight from Delhi, India. It was either put the fire out or land the plane. Would you believe the people cooking their dinner were angry for having their dinner ruined!

On the Philippines flights, I did not know there were such nasty items on board. I saw all of the items I mentioned while going through immigrations and customs in Manila.

I'm told by some former colleagues that while boarding a domestic flight in China, each of them were handed a folding chair and asked to "mind the animals" as there were pigs and chickens in the passenger compartment. They decided against a two hour flight in favor of a 24 hour train ride.

...and they're concerned about batteries???...
shocked.gif
 

DonL

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by d'mo:
DonL

... I'm told by some former colleagues that while boarding a domestic flight in China, each of them were handed a folding chair and asked to "mind the animals" as there were pigs and chickens in the passenger compartment. They decided against a two hour flight in favor of a 24 hour train ride.

...and they're concerned about batteries???...
shocked.gif
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

LOL! That sounds like "Beverly Hillbillies Airlines"!
grin.gif
grin.gif


I think this is a great topic, BTW, alot of educating going on.
 

lemlux

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Back in 1963 as an AFS exchange student I puddle jumped in a DC3 from Beirut to Damascus to Aleppo. We carried goats and chickens in the passenger compartment, albeit caged.

I would think small livestock on board planes in the third world may no longer be as common as it is on busses, but I would guess it still happens.
 

d'mo

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According to http://data.energizer.com/datasheets/psds/lithium.htm, the following warning applies to lithium batteries:

"WARNING: FIRE, EXPLOSION, BURN HAZARD. DO NOT OPEN BATTERY, DISPOSE OF IN FIRE, HEAT ABOVE 75° C (167° F), EXPOSE CONTENTS TO WATER, RECHARGE, PUT IN BACKWARDS, MIX WITH USED OR OTHER BATTERY TYPES - MAY EXPLODE OR LEAK AND CAUSE PERSONAL INJURY."

Ok, I can buy placing batteries in plastic bags if it's possible they could get wet, on or off an airplane. I guess this could be more incentive for manufacturers to make lithium-based flashlights water proof.
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