DCS > Tips > TSA Introduces New Safety Measures for Electronic Devices Traveling into US – July 2014

TSA Introduces New Safety Measures for Electronic Devices Traveling into US – July 2014

TSAlogoThe Transportation Security Administration has recently announced that some overseas passengers flying to the United States who might want to carry electronic devices onboard will have to show that the devices can power up.  Although items mentioned specifically include computers and phones, we bring this to your attention because it is thought that this will also include electronic Cinema and Television cameras.  

It seems that Media and Film crews traveling with cameras should thus be prepared to power them up and produce an image.  For component cameras, this requires a functional battery, lens, and viewfinder also to be carried on with the camera body.  The move comes just days after the Department of Homeland Security announced TSA would be increasing security measures at certain airports overseas as a result of deepening concern that terrorists are trying to develop a new generation of bombs that could be smuggled onto commercial planes.

According to the TSA Press Release, "As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices,…”  They go on to say that “Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft."  We take this to mean that non-functioning devices, whether due to their batteries needing charge, or if they do not have the batteries available may be barred from the flight.  It may be that these travelers themselves "may also undergo additional screening."

FYI, the current policy on Lithium Ion indicates that these batteries should be kept in carry-on baggage, (not in your checked baggage).  According to the US government’s SafeTravel website, "Spare Lithium-Ion Battery, not installed in a device (over 8 grams equivalent lithium content)" are forbidden in checked baggage but permitted in carry on baggage.  It is thought that in the cabin, the flight crew can better monitor conditions, and have access to the batteries to deal with the problem should a fire occur.  

However, as we’ve known for a while, there are limits for larger lithium batteries; (more than 100 watt hours).  They are limited to two (2) in carry-on baggage, and if they contain more than 25 grams “Equivalent Lithium Content, or over about 150 watt hours, they are prohibited.”

In any case, it seems that it is better to be safe than sorry, and anyone planning to carry on board their electronic cameras, better be prepared to show they work, and keep their batteries within allowed tolerances.

Previous post on Li-Ion Battery Air Travel Restrictions circa 2009 below:

Guideline Summary of IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations as of 1/1/09 – Commercial Air Travel

Lithium Ion Batteries less than 100Wh

You can safely carry on-board an unlimited amount of spare batteries, provided you take precautions by covering any exposed terminals with tape or put them in an insulated plastic bag.

Lithium Ion Batteries over 100Wh and less than 160Wh

You can safely carry on-board a maximum of two (2) spare batteries, taking safety precautions as noted above. You can carry on-board one (1) extra battery if it is physically installed or attached to a camera or other equipment.

Lithium Ion Batteries over 160Wh

Carry-on of any spare battery over 160Wh is not allowed under any circumstances. You cannot carry-on or check-in this size battery, even if it is attached or installed in a camera or equipment. To transport batteries over 160Wh, you have to ship it as separate cargo and classified as Class 9 – Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods.

Lithium Ion Batteries as Check-In Baggage

You cannot check-in any spare batteries as baggage regardless of the battery watt hour (Wh) rating. However, if the battery is less than 160Wh and is physically installed or attached to a camera or equipment, you can transport this as check-in baggage.