Can I fly internationally with a lead acid battery in my carry-on?
September 12, 2008 8:06 AM   Subscribe

In just a couple weeks I will fly to a remote area of Peru from Europe via the US. I'll be bringing some research equipment which including a mobile solar unit. That solar unit is powered by a lead acid battery like this one.

Technically, this is an okay thing to bring on carry-on because it is dry-cell (i.e. not like a car battery), and as far as I know it conforms to TSA standards.

However, it is expensive and I know that the TSA aren't exactly known for their willingness to cooperate or their friendliness. This battery is pretty expensive and it would be a shame to lose it.

I wonder, is there some sort of documentation I can bring to show the TSA and other authorities which will demonstrate that I have a legal right to fly with this device and that it is not dangerous or threatening...

If not, and perhaps more importantly, is it safe to put this battery in my normal (non-carry-on) luggage? I don't know about the safety issues involved...

Thanks guys! You're the best.
posted by mateuslee to Travel & Transportation (2 answers total)
You've nailed the two opposing issues here. On one hand, the US Department of Transportation seems to say that except for the restrictions on lithium ion batteries listed here, there's no problem bringing batteries on board (and they seem to prefer them in the cabin to in checked luggage). On the other hand, safe and legal items that simply "could be seen by other passengers as a threat" are confiscated with relish.

I would follow the guidelines on this TSA page for how to travel safely with batteries (original packaging, safety tabs still on, etc.). If you're going to bring a page or two out of their own book to help make your case, this is probably it. I would also have documentation/specs about the battery in English and looking as much like original packaging as possible (like a print out of the MSDS from the Yuasa website or something). That will help confirm that it's a dry cell, non-LI battery and as such should be allowed on as carry on.

I would not tell them what it's for unless they ask. If they ask I'd simply say it's a 12v battery for a ride-on toy car. Above all, do not start talking about mobile solar units. And then, I'd be prepared for them to take it. Have you thought about mailing it ahead?
posted by cocoagirl at 11:11 AM on September 12, 2008

Will you be shipping the equipment as well?

It might help to call the airline, explain where you are going and why, and explain to them what you're wanting to accomplish (getting the battery there for your work). With the airlines, you have the advantage of a client/customer relationship, and, if you get someone who doesn't understand what you;re talking about, you can feign an intteruption and call back later.

It's possible that this is one of those things that would be a nightmare for you, but the airline can solve instantly.

Oh, who purchased your ticket? It might help if you had a one sentence summary like, "I'm a researcher at X-university and we're going to this remote place in Peru and we need this battery for our computer equipment."
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:20 PM on September 12, 2008

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