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TSA Limits Lithium Batteries on Airplanes 595

Posted by Zonk
from the best-kind-of-theatre-is-the-funny-kind dept.
yali writes "The U.S. Transportation and Security Administration has issued new rules limiting travel with lithium batteries. As of January 1, no spare lithium batteries are allowed in checked luggage. Batteries carried in the cabin are subject to limitations on per-battery and total lithium content, and spare batteries must have the terminals covered. If you're returning home from the holidays with new toys, be sure to check out the new restrictions before you pack."
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TSA Limits Lithium Batteries on Airplanes

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:27PM (#21842446) Homepage Journal
    And as usual, there is no explanation as to *why* lithium batteries are now illegal to carry. I assume this is to reduce the possibility of a lithium battery shorting out, but if the batteries are contained in their shipping packages, they should be no more dangerous than many other items that you can carry on planes. This of course means a whole new hassle for those folks that use lithium batteries for their work such as photographers who need to travel by air to many of their assignments among many other folks and carry with them batteries to sometimes remote locations. What is the rationale? Have they examined the potential impact before coming up with yet another new restriction on travel? Are they worried about this as a terrorist act? Because, look, if someone really wants to bring down a plane, there are many ways to do it even without using lithium batteries. Think sodium metal or any explosive really, that is keister stashed until the terrorist gets to the lavatory. Think any common item on a plane that can be used as a weapon including newspaper, components of the interior finish and cabin materials,

    Every time I come back into my own country after spending time abroad, I am frustrated and depressed over how bad things are getting here. I talked about some of it including the marketing problem we are manufacturing for ourselves here [utah.edu] after my last trip to Japan.

    It also makes one wonder how much all this is costing the US in terms of lost business, lost productivity, airline delays, increased cost burdens on airlines and passengers and more... And this is all being done in the name of safety and terrorism, but you know... it's funny because I remember flying back in the 70's and 80's where people routinely carried firearms on planes. The restriction was that they had to be long guns and unloaded. I even remember one Texan getting on a plane and commenting to his friend that he would never check his shotgun because it might get damaged by the baggage handlers. I also routinely used to carry a pocket knife with me wherever I went even up to a few years ago on planes before they were outlawed... which leads me to wonder if the per capita risk of hijacking is any different now versus what it was back then.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bootle (816136)

      Think sodium metal or any explosive really, that is keister stashed until the terrorist gets to the lavatory.
      Keister stashed? Slashdot, you teach me something new every single day!
      • by wattrlz (1162603) on Friday December 28, 2007 @07:10PM (#21844018)

        Think sodium metal or any explosive really, that is keister stashed until the terrorist gets to the lavatory.
        Keister stashed? Slashdot, you teach me something new every single day!
        Somehow the idea of a terrorist trying to keister stash a significant quantity of sodium metal (which is not explosive so much as pyrophoric... ) signifcantly brightened my day.
    • by creimer (824291) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:35PM (#21842542) Homepage
      And as usual, there is no explanation as to *why* lithium batteries are now illegal to carry.

      Obviously, they don't want terrorists buying black market Sony batteries that will explode during the flight.
      • by howlatthemoon (718490) on Friday December 28, 2007 @06:43PM (#21843798)
        that you not travel with recalled batteries. http://safetravel.dot.gov/remember.html [dot.gov]

        Other things that you can find are why they are doing this e.g. flight crews can better monitor safety conditions to prevent an incident, and can access fire extinguishers, if an incident does happen -- http://safetravel.dot.gov/tips.html [dot.gov]

        YOU CAN TRAVEL WITH MOST LI-ION CONSUMER BATTERIES assuming the TSA agents follow the rules as stated

        For the lazy people not willing to look at the actual page, nor the willingness to get through the TSA's obtuse writing here is the punch line:
        The following quantity limits apply to both your spare and installed batteries. The limits are expressed in grams of "equivalent lithium content." 8 grams of equivalent lithium content is approximately 100 watt-hours. 25 grams is approximately 300 watt-hours:
        * Under the new rules, you can bring batteries with up to 8-gram equivalent lithium content. All lithium ion batteries in cell phones are below 8 gram equivalent lithium content. Nearly all laptop computers also are below this quantity threshold. -- My Macbook Pro battery is 60 watt hours or about 5.5 grams of lithium
        * You can also bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate equivalent lithium content of up to 25 grams, in addition to any batteries that fall below the 8-gram threshold. Examples of two types of lithium ion batteries with equivalent lithium content over 8 grams but below 25 are shown below ( the picture shows a pro-camcoder extended use battery and an external extended use laptop battery).

        I usually travel with 10 or more Li-ion batteries of various sizes and this language does not lead me to believe that I will have any trouble because I never check my batteries.I am still concerned as enforcement of these new rules is left up to poorly trained agents, so I worry about losing very expensive batteries because one idiot see lithium on the label and chucks it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          function acceptable(luggage){

          bigcount=0;
          bigsum=0;

          foreach (battery in luggage.carryon){
          if (battery.capacity>100Wh){
          bigcount++;
          bigsum+=battery.capacity;
          }
          }
          if (bigcount>2 || bigsum>300Wh){
          return false;
          }

          foreach (battery in luggage.checked){
          if (battery.capacity>100Wh || !battery.inDevice){
          return false;
          }
          }

          retur
        • Oh yeah, some moron TSA employee that makes $7.50/hour can really determine how much lithium is in your batteries. I trust them to measure properly. Like they did with my 3oz of hair gel.

          This is fucking moronic. Yet another unnecessary safety step for no reason other than to inconvenience people for the perception (really does anyone believe we're safer when TSA fails almost every test they are put under) of safety.

          America is fucked.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by syousef (465911)
          My wife and I went to New Zealand for our honeymoon. We took 2 SLRs, a point and shoot camera, and a laptop (would have been with a spare battery, but I forgot to put it in the bag and we were pushing cabin baggage weight limits as it was). We took 20,000 pictures in 3 weeks. The emphasis wasn't even photography and we aren't pros - it was our honeymoon and we still had plenty of time to drive 6000km and do all the things honeymooners do. We just take a shitload of pictures and then sort the good from the b
      • IAAP (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 28, 2007 @08:33PM (#21844702)
        I am a commercial pilot. I've had a large battery go into thermal runaway in flight. It scared the hell out of me. The flight crew put it in a metal trashcan (so the firefighting gloves are a good idea) and I had depresurized and was going to toss it out over Kansas when it stopped venting and pulsing. I didn't see it; I was on oxygen up front, but my crew really wanted to throw it out even though it stopped pulsing.

        So yeah, this is an annoyance, but, in retrospect, I think it's a good idea, and thinking about the spare laptop battery showed into a pocket with some random AV cables, it could light off the overhead compartment before anyone notices.
    • by 4D6963 (933028) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:39PM (#21842618)

      which leads me to wonder if the per capita risk of hijacking is any different now versus what it was back then.

      And that makes me wonder what the risk of hijacking would be if carrying guns was allowed (even encouraged?) on airplanes. I'd love to see a terrorist managing to take control of a plane for more than 5 minutes if other passengers had guns.

      • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:46PM (#21842680) Homepage Journal
        Can we put some restrictions on the ammo that you can carry? It is ok with me if you kill a hijacker, but I don't want you putting holes in the plane.
        • by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:52PM (#21842750) Homepage Journal
          I recall a rather nasty home-defense weapon that a friend of mine had for his wife to use ( they were in a rather rural area with slow police response ). It was a short-barrel .44 revolver - light, easy to use, won't jam - with a load that looked like a miniature shotgun shell. It had a bunch of pellets about 1 mm in diameter. He said that it could rip a person apart at close range, but could not penetrate 2 sheets of drywall.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by OrangeTide (124937)
            There are liability issues when it comes with unconventional loads. Anything that can be deemed as cruel or meant to inflict injury above what is necessary for self defense can open you up to serious litigation. And the ones who get to deem what is and is not cruel? Civil court judge and lawyers. All bets are off on people being sane when someone is going to get paid a million bucks to sue you.

            Generally it is best to avoid any kind of pellet/shot loads, also you absolutely must avoid hollow points. Plain ol
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by fredklein (532096)
              There are liability issues when it comes with unconventional loads. Anything that can be deemed as cruel or meant to inflict injury above what is necessary for self defense can open you up to serious litigation

              This a result of the pussy-ification of the American Legal System. Actually, it's the pussy-ification of America.

              When I was young, I climbed metal monkey-bars in a sand-covered park. I climbed 6', even 8' high slides made of steel and sheet metal, and slid down them. Today, all the fixtures are low
            • Re:awww jeez, (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Phanatic1a (413374) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:43PM (#21845462)
              Generally it is best to avoid any kind of pellet/shot loads, also you absolutely must avoid hollow points

              This is completely untrue. Completely and thoroughly. Police departments, almost to a man, issue hollowpointed ammunition. Why? Because it has the highest chance of stopping the threat in the event lethal force is necessary. If you end up on the stand, yes, the prosecutor's going to ask why you were using hollowpointed ammunition. Then, since you've been prepared by your own defense, you're going to be able to say that you use them for the same reason 99% of police, including the police from the largest departments in the country such as the NYPD and LAPD, walk around with hollowpoints loaded: because they have the highest chance of stopping the threat and the lowest chance of penetrating to where they're not supposed to and hit an innocent person inadvertently. The cops aren't out there trying to be cruel, and neither are you.

              What you want to avoid are hand-loads. You want to use factory ammunition.

              Personally I would go with a 357magnum over a 44mag for home defense

              ObJeffCooper:

              The difference between any two handguns is this much: (holds fingers up about a half-inch apart)

              The difference between a handgun and a longarm is this much: (stretches arms apart)

              Handguns are marginal against human targets. If you're going to use one for self-defense, then arguing over things like "stopping power" and so forth is just so much intellectual masturbation. Yeah, yeah, I wouldn't use a .25ACP for home defense either, but worrying about .357 vs. .44 is just silly. You want a handgun that is

              a. reliable
              b. reliable
              c. isn't so expensive or unpleasant to shoot that you won't practice with it.
              d. isn't so inaccurate that you'll get discouraged and stop practicing with it.

              If you're defending your *home*, the only reason you should be carrying a handgun is to let you fight your way to your long arm. A shotgun or something like an 1892 chambered in something ridiculously potent like .454 Casull or .480 Ruger puts you in an entirely different realm of energy, and the carbine will give you more rounds than the shotgun does. Fundamentally, it's up to what the individual feels comfortable with, but *anything* is better than nothing, and quibbling about .357 vs .44 or 9mm vs. .45 is just silly. Your standard AK/AR15/HK91 clone isn't a bad idea, either.

              S&W sells a 5-shot revolver w/ 2" barrel that fires .500S&W (that's a half-inch diameter bullet). It's too much for carry, but home defense it would do well (of course like a 44, there will be no follow up shot). I think it is probably best for shooting a bear/lion/tiger when he starts eating your face though

              This is nonsense. What that will generate is an enormous muzzle flash as the majority of unburned powder rapidly combusts upon leaving the barrel and a mind-boggling amount of felt recoil. The internal ballistics of the .500S&W are completely ill-suited to that sort of barrel length. And it's not a surprise to me that I can't find this weapon in any of S&W's sales ads. It's not even on their homepage. There is a 2.75" barreled version, but even that's completely ridiculous and there's no *way* I'd rely on that in a bear-defense situation.

              is a pretty serious cartridge, might even stop a rhino. (nobody has tried)

              Nobody has tried, because it'd be just as much suicide as putting the thing to your head and pulling the trigger. In the full-length barrel, it develops just a hair over 3000 ft-lbs at the muzzle. That is indeed an enormous quantity of energy for a handgun, and compares to a .308 out of a rifle. But compared to cartridges used for dangerous big game, it's puny. .460 Weatherby Magnum is over 7000 ft
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Rob the Bold (788862)

          Can we put some restrictions on the ammo that you can carry?

          OK, we'll only allow "Ich luge" bullets.

        • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday December 28, 2007 @06:59PM (#21843932) Homepage Journal

          Can we put some restrictions on the ammo that you can carry? It is ok with me if you kill a hijacker, but I don't want you putting holes in the plane.

          Air marshals don't carry special ammo, and there's no reason that others would need to, either. Air marshals did briefly flirt with frangible ammunition, but soon realized that the Hollywood idea of what happens when you poke a 1/2 inch hold in the skin of a plane is just as valid as the Hollywood notion of what happens when a bullet hits a car. Basically, if you poke a small hole in a pressurized airplane's skin the pressure begins to drop a tiny bit faster than it did before you poked a hole, and not likely fast enough to even overcome the systems that maintain the pressure.

          As a result, air marshals now carry regular hollowpoint ammunition, just like pretty much all other law enforcement officers, on the grounds that it's (a) more effective at stopping the bad guy than ball, (b) less likely to go through the bad guy and hurt someone behind him than ball and (c) less likely to shatter ineffectually on a bone or other hard object than frangible. Frangible ammo sometimes produces horrific wounds similar to those of a shotgun at short range, but other times will impact a rib, or just about anything a little tougher than flesh and then produce a broad but extremely shallow and ultimately ineffective wound. And it really doesn't make shooting on an airplane any safer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bryanp (160522)
        I'm going to guess that if that were the case 9/11 might have looked something like this:

        http://www.scottbieser.com/sept11.html [scottbieser.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Have Blue (616)
        Easily. They'd just shoot you while you're struggling to drag your gun case out of the overhead compartment.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by 4D6963 (933028)

          Easily. They'd just shoot you while you're struggling to drag your gun case out of the overhead compartment.

          Yeah, because everybody knows that people who carry guns for protection like to leave them in their luggage rather than under their belts/inside a holster.

    • anymore because of the unabomber

      like anything, it's costs versus benefits. costs of having to go to the post office if you have a package, costs of not flying with my trusty shotgun: neglible

      benefits: also neglible

      it's a tempest in teapot, both in terms of more security restrictions, and less security restrictions

      no big deal. and yet people get their panties in a twist. it impresses me more that some people just have a psychosomatic need to get upset about neglible things

      there are guys who would hijack airp
      • by Justus (18814) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:55PM (#21843426)
        Having "enjoyed" airline travel over the holidays this year, I suppose I can comment a bit on what I dislike about the state of airport security in the US these days.

        Mostly, I feel it's rather demeaning. I used to travel a lot in the late nineties, when security was much less invasive, and I feel that it's no safer today than it was back then. There have been many instances of prohibited materials being slipped past TSA security, and oftentimes the regulations are overly restrictive and do little to nothing to improve actual security. I'm not going to be hijacking an airplane with my Swiss Army keychain (1" blade). I don't feel that I should be hassled about taking off my shoes for the X-ray machine when I've just watched eight people go through the metal detector without doing so. If we're going to have substantial airport security (which I would suggest is not necessary), it should be evenly enforced by well-paid, well-trained individuals with policies that are shown to have an impact. What we have now does little more than inconvenience travelers and provide a false sense of security.

        This may be middle class whining, but I feel that it's not unreasonable.
    • by pheared (446683)
      It's obviously just a scheme by the electronics industry to sell more devices, since you can carry more batteries so long as they are installed.

      I have to admit that while this is stupid, it's really not as bad as the TSA restrictions that actually make flying a complete nightmare. I don't think you need to get too upset over this one. I'd take weird lithium battery restrictions over draconian liquid restrictions any day. TSA is probably going to make me pee before I get on my next flight because I am tra
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I see it as an opportunity for somebody to sell 'this device blinks a silly little LED if button pressed' devices for people to 'install' their spare battery packs in before going to the airport. Little nominal 'shell' devices that just happen to fit the same battery packs as the flier's other device.
    • What is the rationale?

      Obviously, it's a conspiracy by Amtrak and Greyhound!

    • by calidoscope (312571) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:46PM (#21842684)
      Restrictions on shipping lithium primary batteries by air cargo have been in place for over a year now and this also applied to equipment with lithium primary batteries. There are similar restriction for shipping large lithium secondary batteries.


      The news rules do make sense, a in-flight fire on an airliner is pretty serious, especially if there is no nearby place to land (e.g. halfway between California and Hawaii).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mr_mischief (456295)
      When you outlaw common everyday items on planes, only forgetful people and outlaws will try to board the plane with those items.

      Given that a good laptop battery or a high-quality pocket knife can approach the price of a cheap off-season weekend ticket on a discount airline, just ditching your stuff looks pretty unappealing. It's a pain to leave the security screening, go back to the luggage check, check your stuff in your carry-on, and then get screened by security again. I'm not sure all airports will even
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Starteck81 (917280)
      In all fairness lithium is a highly reactive substance. You could conceivably take a number of batteries on a flight head back to the restroom crack them open and construct and incendiary device. Check out this link for a little more info The Preparatory Manual of Black Powder and Pyrotechnics [google.com]

      Granted the laptop batteries aren't lithium nitride but they are close.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by smooth wombat (796938)
        head back to the restroom crack them open and construct and incendiary device.


        And you can't do the same thing with sodium and water or a hundred other items that can be brought on board?

        I said it in a previous posting, but soon, the only way to get onto a plane will be like this [mwctoys.com].

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by LWATCDR (28044)
          Just how would you get Sodium on to an airliner?
          Every time I have seen Sodium it was stored under kerosene or some other oil.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rbanffy (584143)
          I don't believe anyone could sneak Sodium in any useful (read "dangerous") form into a plane.

          The very way you have to pack it necessarily looks suspicious.
    • by Roogna (9643) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:49PM (#21842718)
      Figures the one time I don't have mod points is the one time I see a post by someone who obviously didn't read the actual links. Lithium batteries are NOT "now illegal to carry". There's just some rules being put in place for when they can be in checked baggage or must be carried on, and how they must be stored. Looking at the actual page on the subject, it looks like they went to great lengths to make sure it won't directly impact most travelers with regards to the batteries people tend to travel with. On that note I see nothing anywhere suggesting that this has anything to do with terrorism. And as you say if it's "to reduce the possibility of a lithium battery shorting out" then they can be in their shipping packages and be "no more dangerous than many other items that you can carry on planes". Which is exactly what they suggest for storing spare batteries.

      I'm all for government conspiracy theories and thinking most of this stuff is completely idiotic. But nothing is going to improve if we go around making grossly inaccurate statements about what a rule actually is.
    • Re:Why (Score:3, Informative)

      by jj00 (599158)

      From their FAQ [dot.gov]:
      "...In the passenger compartment, flight crews can better monitor safety conditions to prevent an incident, and can access fire extinguishers, if an incident does happen."

      I'd say the real reason is that they don't want a fire to start in the luggage compartment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044)
      I doubt this has much to do with terrorism and everything to do with safety.
      A lithium battery in checked luggage that shorts out could be a major disaster. Take a look at what happened when some oxygen generators where not shipped properly.

      If a fire happens in the passenger cabin it will be noticed and hopefully put out quickly. One in the luggage hold could be a bigger problem.
      When I think about just how battery/energy crazy we are getting I have to wonder if it really is a good idea.
      I have a six gigabyte
    • Precedent (Score:5, Funny)

      by cgenman (325138) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:20PM (#21843018) Homepage
      Obviously they needed to be banned. Lithium batteries are much, much more dangerous than 3oz of water outside of a plastic baggie.

      And for that matter, people bleed to death of papercuts all the time. Paper must be banned from airlines. Similarly, Cheeseburgers, umbrellas during lightning storms, and those shoes with little wheels in them must be stopped. On airplanes.

      Other things that should never be brought on an airplane include: step ladders, Christmas lights, and Chuck Norris. Gambling is a very serious addiction, and as such fliers are hereby banned from setting foot inside of Las Vegas McCarron Airport.

      Thank you for your attention, and thank you for flying with the TSA. The TSA: [tsa.gov] Drawing on our imagination to creatively protect America from imagined harm.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's funny because I remember flying back in the 70's and 80's where people routinely carried firearms on planes. The restriction was that they had to be long guns and unloaded. I even remember one Texan getting on a plane and commenting to his friend that he would never check his shotgun because it might get damaged by the baggage handlers. I also routinely used to carry a pocket knife with me wherever I went even up to a few years ago on planes before they were outlawed... which leads me to wonder if the per capita risk of hijacking is any different now versus what it was back then.

      Around 2000, I used to carry a small penknife all the time. One day, I was catching a plane from the UK to Spain, and going through the checks. I studied the sign in front of me, which listed the things not allowed in the cabin. It mentioned drugs, volatile substances and suchlike, but said nothing about sharp objects. I continued, secure in the knowledge that everything I was carrying was OK. When it came to putting my metal objects in a box while I walked through the detector, the guy went weird ab

  • by DaRat (678130) * on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:27PM (#21842450)

    Given how well current TSA rules are implemented by the agents, I expect that there will be considerable confusion at the security checkpoints.

    Hell, I'm a geek, and I'm not sure how many grams of lithium metal are in my laptop's batteries. How should I expect a nontechnical person be able to size up a battery and tell which batteries should be allowed and which shouldn't?

    And, are they even going to count batteries in cellphones and iPods?

    I expect that many spare batteries will simply be seized and tossed in the trash.

    • by Obyron (615547) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:35PM (#21842556)
      I expect that many spare batteries will simply be seized and tossed in the trash.

      Try sold on eBay [ebay.com] instead. Seized property is typically sold by the states in Surplus Property [ky.gov] auctions, where it can be bid on by the public at large, or in some cases the airports themselves sell the stuff in lots on eBay. The government is making a buck on the battery it confiscates from you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Revotron (1115029) *
      Read the article - it clearly states that installed batteries are exempt. Therefore, your cellphones, cameras, iPods and laptops aren't affected. They're talking about spare batteries that are loose in the luggage, and they even mention that placing your batteries in their original packaging or in a zip-lock bag is deemed a safe storage location that prevents shorting.

      It took longer to type this response than it did to read and comprehend the article itself.
      • by whoever57 (658626) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:00PM (#21842828) Journal

        Read the article - it clearly states that installed batteries are exempt.
        The AP article may state this, but the DOT page does not. Installed batteries are also subject to limits -- from the DOT page [dot.gov]:

        The following quantity limits apply to both your spare and installed batteries. The limits are expressed in grams of "equivalent lithium content." 8 grams of equivalent lithium content is approximately 100 watt-hours. 25 grams is approximately 300 watt-hours:
  • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:31PM (#21842488) Homepage Journal
    Spare batteries are more dangerous than installed batteries? Maybe it's just me, but the large majority of the lithium batteries that I've read about exploding were ones that were installed. I've yet to hear about a spare one going jihad on the luggage next to it.
    • by jandrese (485)
      All this means is you have to remember to swap out your optical drive for the spare battery before going through the security line. The TSA folks probably would not appreciate it if you forgot and had to do it in front of them, they're not allowed to have a sense of humor.

      Quick question: Can you actually short out a spare battery enough to cause it to explode by putting a paperclip between the terminals? That sounds like a saftey hazard if true. All of the battery explosions I've heard about are cause
    • by Chyeld (713439)
      I have one better for you. W(hy)TF is the restriction on checked baggage and not on carry on baggage, if they think there is a safety issue?

      "Why yes sir, those batteries are very, very dangerous. So please keep them as close to yourself and the other passengers as possible instead of storing them away safely in our baggage area."
      • by timster (32400)
        Well, that at least is completely obvious. The gorillas who "handle" the checked baggage are likely to crack the casing on poorly-packed batteries, but most people are reasonably careful with their own stuff.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      The problem with spare Li batteries is that the contacts are often exposed and easy to short out. When that happens if the safety circuit doesn't kick in they will "vent" with flame.
  • New rule (Score:5, Funny)

    by Etrias (1121031) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:31PM (#21842494)
    There must be a contest at the TSA to come up with the most ridiculous ideas for restrictions. Winners get a tote bag, mug and an "I is stoppin' der terrarists" t-shirt.
  • by Lookin4Trouble (1112649) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:32PM (#21842500)
    Does this mean I can't bring the external 4-hour battery I bought for my laptop? My laptop's battery lasts ~2 hours, and I bought the external with the sole purpose of USING IT ON THE FREAKING PLANE for the additional four hours it takes to get from East Coast to West Coast...
  • $1 Camcorder (Score:4, Insightful)

    by muffel (42979) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:32PM (#21842514)
    So all you need is a really cheap and small camcorder -- which doesn't really work but still uses a lithium battery. Thus turning your forbidden spare into an allowed non-spare battery?

    Gotta go, fill out my patent application...

  • Retarded (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ewhac (5844) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:35PM (#21842548) Homepage Journal
    From an Administration whose keynote from the word Go has been, "Failure," this is just fscking retarded. What, exactly, is this supposed to accomplish?

    I have LIon batteries in my laptop, my cell phone, my Bluetooth earpiece, my Nintendo DS, and probably my shoes for all I know. I already have to remove my screwdrivers from my carry-on bag and place them in checked baggage or leave them at home, because they are Official Threats To The Integrity Of The Republic ("Take this plane to Cuba or I'll unscrew the wings from the plane").

    Someone needs to slap around the retards coming up with this stuff and force-feed them a clue.

    Schwab

    • The article said *non rechargeable* lithium batteries.

      Your rechargeables don't count for this particular ban.

      Don't tell them that it is the rechargable LiIon batteries installed in laptops that have been exploding.
      • The article said *non rechargeable* lithium batteries.

        The AP article says that, but the chart on TFTSA website has limits/bans on rechargeables, too.

    • Okay, so the TSA Web site expressly discusses lithium batteries, and not lithium-ion batteries, the latter of which are used in laptops, cell phones, etc.

      However, the confusion is understandable, since the TSA Web page has a picture of a fscking laptop computer as the article's headline.

      But even given that, it's still fscking stupid. I suppose they imagine, by limiting power sources, they can do an end-run around that abject security failure [washingtonpost.com] that let simulated bomb parts through.

      Is there an event h

      • No, the TSA website lists both lithium, and lithium ion batteries, but with varying quantities of lithium installed in each type. The article, which I did not read, instead I just hit up the TSA website, but the article appears to be incorrect based on what people are posting.
      • by whoever57 (658626)

        Okay, so the TSA Web site expressly discusses lithium batteries, and not lithium-ion batteries, the latter of which are used in laptops, cell phones, etc.
        What is it about this article that people seem to have difficulty reading it? The DOT page clearly gives limits for Lithium-ion batteries. For example:

        Lithium-Ion Battery Installed in a Device (up to 8 grams lithium equivalent content)
  • by amper (33785) * on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:36PM (#21842566) Homepage Journal
    Energizer AA (L91) ~.98 grams
    Energizer AAA (L92) ~.5 grams
    Energizer 123 ~.55 grams

    as per Energizer technical data PDF's

  • *sigh* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WizMaster (974384) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:37PM (#21842576)
    At this point, I don't care anymore. Really, is anyone actually bothered by this? Should've seen it comming though. This is a waste of my tax money. Hell, it would be worth it if they were transparent and we knew the reasons for all of these rules. This goes far below checking shoes for bombs and even not allowing nail clippers on board. Whatever. Hopefully the next administration would bring some sense (*HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA*) to the US government.
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:40PM (#21842626)
    Because of the risk of an in-flight hazard [wikipedia.org], humans should no longer be allowed on aircraft. Airlines will, however, continue to fly your luggage anywhere you please, provided it contains no shoes, liquids, or lithium batteries.
    • It'd be an easy enough conclusion to leap to, given the length and breadth of the average TSA employee's experience with actual humans.

      I wouldn't be surprised if a major TSA advisor dreams this one up on his own tonight, while snuggled up safe and sound with his cold, unfeeling wireframe mother. [psywww.com]
  • I imagine... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:43PM (#21842638) Homepage Journal
    ...that this is in response to all the horror stories of the last year of batteries catching fire and/or exploding. Neither of which would be unique to lithium batteries, and is more a product of lousy quality control than rogue individuals. If Firestone/Bridgestone could end up having to explain themselves to Congress, and face hefty consequences, then why not do the same to battery makers who produce lithium bombs? You don't see bans on Jeeps or SUVs with Bridgestone tires on roll-on/roll-off/roll-over ferries, but far more vehicles were impacted (and far more severely) by the tire issue than computers have been by the battery issue.

    There have been numerous comments on the inept handling of existing regulations by the TSA, including on here and including many by people currently or formerly employed by the TSA itself. Journalists and Government watchdog officials are forever getting banned items that are infinitely more dangerous than a battery past screeners. Mind you, other countries aren't any better. The French managed to lose a whole load of plastic explosives during a test run at a busy airport.

  • Is for the trash cans at TSA checkpoints to explode from TSA idiots tossing your charged battery packs into it at random. You thought one laptop exploding was bad.

    You can't cure stupid.
  • Bass Ackwards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quila (201335) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:56PM (#21842778)
    The TSA seems to be able to implement all sorts of insane, useless rules on a moment's notice.

    But when it comes to a rule that averts something that actually has a reasonable chance of endangering a flight, they wait months after the hazard was known to the whole world before taking any action.
  • by Nexus7 (2919) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:56PM (#21842784)
    Maybe they want to see what they can make us do. They said one time you couldn't carry water bottles on-board. Then you could carry them on as long as they were purchased after the security check. I don't know what it is now... then they said that cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, etc. containing liquids had to be less that 4 oz and all of them had to fit in a quart bag, my sizes might be off, but something like that. Why quart size? Maybe it's a carefully determined threshold, above which everyone is still resentful, but not so much that they'd protest. Or maybe they made it up, as long as they were making stuff up anyway. Or maybe the water-boarded guy said they had a plot to use 2 quart bags.. then they water-boarded him some more and he said one-and-a-half qt bags; so they decided they'd allow only 1 qt bags so that the evil ones did have anything to blow up. Now it's 1 spare battery (or whatever number). I suppose we hear that and go, hey, they allow a spare, and that's good around. I mean, who needs a hundred spares anyway? And so we accept one more thing, more or less unquestioningly.

    I know this sounds like a slippery slope argument, but this stuff is being made up as we go along. They got the idiot shoe guy trying to light a match, so they said we've got to take our shoes off and run them through the machines. I mean, this could go on ad infinitum.
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:59PM (#21842820) Journal
    Page 37:

    To blow up an airplane
    1. obtain lithium battery
    2. board aircraft with battery
    3. Wait until airborn at 30,000 ft
    4. Short out terminals
    5. Hold under shoe
    6. ???????????
    7. 48 virgins are yours! Enjoy!
  • by amper (33785) * on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:03PM (#21842842) Homepage Journal
    What really bothers me about this is that the info page from the TSA provides only very vague information concerning exactly what is or is not permitted, and the rules seem to be defined so poorly as to beg for inadvertent violation of the rules by passengers as well as violation of passengers' rights by overzealous security personnel.

    There is no distinction made between non-rechargeable and rechargeable batteries. This may be for a good reason, but the TSA page seems to refer primarily to rechargeable batteries.

    • Under the new rules, you can bring batteries with up to 8-gram equivalent lithium content. All lithium ion batteries in cell phones are below 8 gram equivalent lithium content. Nearly all laptop computers also are below this quantity threshold.
    • You can also bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate equivalent lithium content of up to 25 grams, in addition to any batteries that fall below the 8-gram threshold. Examples of two types of lithium ion batteries with equivalent lithium content over 8 grams but below 25 are shown below.
    • For a lithium metal battery, whether installed in a device or carried as a spare, the limit on lithium content is 2 grams of lithium metal per battery.
    • Almost all consumer-type lithium metal batteries are below 2 grams of lithium metal. But if you are unsure, contact the manufacturer!


    Note the specification of the word "aggregate" in the second item. That word doesn't appear in the first item. Does that mean I can bring *any number* of batteries that have an individual lithium content of less than 8-grams?

    Note the specification of "lithium metal battery" in the third and fourth items. This term does not appear in either of the first or second items. The first and second items refer to "lithium ion batteries". What is the distinction between a "lithium ion battery" and a "lithium metal battery"? Even worse, in the second item, the term "lithium ion battery" is only referred to as an example. The operative phrase only says "up to two spare batteries with an aggregate equivalent lithium content of up to 25 grams, in addition to any batteries that fall below the 8-gram threshold".

    Can anyone cite the relevant regulations rather than this public info disaster?
  • by madsheep (984404) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:04PM (#21842862) Homepage
    Well I am not sure whether people should worry much about this. Why you ask? Well the TSA folks generally aren't that bright. This means one of two things will happen.

    1) The TSA agents won't know what a Lithium battery is and people that have extra batteries won't be affected - should they forget about or ignore the rule.

    2) The TSA agent won't know what a Lithium battery is and people that don't have Lithium batteries will have them confiscated/removed because they are idiots.

    Which one is more likely and should we worry in either case? :D
  • by Killer Eye (3711) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:13PM (#21842950)
    Rulemakers like the TSA need to be forced to explain the rationales for every decision.

    But, before they're allowed to get all legalese on us, there should also be a brevity requirement. Like the Nutrition Facts on the side of your average can of soup, probably one of the best examples I can think of where a government requirement *didn't* turn into 4 paragraphs of fine print, but rather is presented in a way Joe Sixpack can understand.

    I'd like to see something like:
    TSA Security Facts
    --------------
    Restriction: No lithium batteries.
    Applies to Flights: International
    Rationale: We don't have a clue but we read something bad about them in Newsweek.
    Since: 2007
    Terrorist Plots Known to Use This Method: 0
  • by bleh-of-the-huns (17740) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:15PM (#21842980)
    But rather a PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazard Materials Safety Administration), an operation unit of the USDOT (I used to work at the USDOT). The rule is being enforced by the TSA, but it was not developed by them. How they enforce it, I don't know, since I seriously doubt any of them (or atleast very very few of them) would be able to figure out what quantities of what chemicals are in different batteries. Hell, even most techies probably do not know what the chemical makeup is, since its not something printed on the spec sheets of batteries.

    Just for shits and giggles, I hit up dell's site looking for a spare battery for my vostro 1500...

    These are the tech specs for the battery...

    Tech Specs
    General
    Device Type: Notebook battery
    Battery Enclosure Type: Internal
    Localization: United States
    Battery
    Technology: 9-cell lithium ion
    Capacity: 85 Wh

    That does not provide much info.

    Here is anoterh battery from a site that specializes in batteries (this one for a HID or LED bicycle light)

    Packing

            *
                14.8V , 2400mAh battery pack is made by 4 pcs High quality 18650 2400mAh Li-Ion cells packed by 4 series side by side
            *
                The battery pack is Wapped by white PVC shrink tube

      Voltage Voltage: 14.8V (working) 16.8V ( peak) 11.0V ( cut-off)
      Capacity 2400 mAh min. (35.5 wh)
    Protection

            * One PCB (8A) installed with the battery pack and protects the battery from
                        o Overcharge (>16.8V)
                        o Overdischarge ( 8 Amp)
                        o Short circuits
            * One 4.2 Amp polyswitch installed to limit max. discharging current at 4A

    Prewired

            * 6" length 18 AWG wires without connector

    Max. Discharging Rate 4.2 Amp limited by polyswitch

    No where do they list the chemical contents....
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:20PM (#21843026) Journal
    It exists to

    1. convince the American sheeple think that the .gov is actually doing something about terrorism
    2. instill fear in the sheeple so they continue making poor risk assessments re: terrorism, and thus support wingnuttery like the TSA.

    The TSA hasn't done jack shit to prevent terrorism. Terrorism is defeated by police work and good intelligence, not invading far off countries. Terrorism is not defeated militarily. It is defeated politically and socially: politically through a practice of non-intervention and socially through a process of co-operative engagement. To put it in more common terms: respect others and trade with them. Don't invade and steal resources. Present yourself as something to emulate. Over time, people will leave you the hell alone, because you leave them the hell alone.

    The TSA is a crime of an agency, and should be disbanded. Airport security is one thing. Tin horn fascist fear mongering is another.

    RS

  • This sucks! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AaronW (33736) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:27PM (#21843104) Homepage
    I may not carry a laptop, but I do travel with a few cameras. I have my dSLR with one spare lithium battery, a small point-and-shoot camera with a bunch of spares, and a video camera. I need a bunch of spares for my old P&S camera since it eats them like there's no tomorrow and if I use that camera much I'll easily go through 3-4 batteries before I can get back and have a chance to charge them. Granted, the batteries are quite small but I don't feel like replacing it just yet.

    Being limited to one spare battery for everything absolutely sucks and is unacceptable. I could see carrying one spare for a laptop, but this will really suck for photographers.
  • Screw air travel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nsayer (86181) * <nsayer@NosPaM.kfu.com> on Friday December 28, 2007 @06:24PM (#21843628) Homepage
    Airport security has become a ridiculous game of "Simon Says," only in this case Simon has a taser and the ability to ruin your vacation plans. Every congress-critter from any tourism-oriented state should be holding daily hearings with the head of the TSA asking for cost:benefit analyses on all of these stupid rules.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Friday December 28, 2007 @06:43PM (#21843802)
    I know some of these policies make sense, even if not implemented correctly. The limit itself is ridiculous. They should just enforce proper packaging during transit.

    Flying in this country is going to get to the point where EVERYTHING will be packed according to a 1000+ point policy and checked. Carry-ons will be banned entirely. Ohhh, and you will have ditch all of your clothes, submit yourself to the "high colonic" security scanner, and travel in a one size does not fit all jumpsuit. I just hope when safety and terrorism inevitably bring us there that I can at least choose the color of my jumpsuit.

    The sad fact is that with the corruption of the airlines and FAA still allowing critical design flaws to exist, that the military itself corrected over 20 years ago, you will be flying very safely in a progressively unsafe plane. Makes perfect sense.

    I got an idea... Why not just go back to the way it was before? Where we accepted a certain level of risk to travel. People do stupid stuff all the time like drinking too much and smoking. I don't see how far fetched it is to get a little excitement riding in a plane that may explode due to a design flaw from the airplane manufacturers, Sony, or some fucked in the head terrorist :)

    P.S - We had a close family friend die on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie. My position has always been that the airlines themselves do not do enough to protect us. There was technology back then, and still exists today, that could have stopped that. It would cost a couple hundred thousand dollars but would essentially retrofit the cargo compartments with blast proof material. The containers themselves would also be fitted with it. Had that existed on Flight 103, they would probably not even have noticed that blast till they landed. So without trying to sound like a troll, I do believe these TSA policies are just window dressing and that they don't ever intend to focus on real security solutions that could be effective.
  • by RobinH (124750) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:34PM (#21845698) Homepage
    A couple years ago I went on a camping trip for a week and had to fly there. My father and I flew out of Detroit to Salt Lake City, and among the stuff we packed in our checked luggage for the camping trip was an air mattress and battery operated inflater (quite common in any camping equipment store). On the way out, there was a note in the bag saying the luggage had been searched, and we noticed the batteries had been removed from the inflater... not a big deal, as I'm sure they show up looking odd on an X-ray.

    On the way back home, though, there was another note from the TSA, and the inflater was just gone. They didn't remove the batteries and put it back, or anything, it was just stolen.

    I looked into submitting a claim for the lost item, and discovered that the form I would have to submit was the same form you used to make a wrongful death claim. Nice. I decided it wasn't worth my effort to try and get reimbursed for a $25 or so item.

    Readers Digest did a little unscientific poll recently to figure out who were the most and least honest people in the world. They did this by dropping cell phones in odd places, then calling them so people would find the phone, and seeing how many people would return it. I found it quite interesting that the least honest group was security guards. Of course, this is practically the same demographic as TSA agents, so I guess it's no surprise that some of them are looting peoples' luggage.
  • Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday December 29, 2007 @01:22AM (#21846126)
    I don't need to carry spare batteries in my checked luggage. I can always buy some at my destination. The spares I do carry are for my laptop so I can use it on long flights.

    Want me to minimize my spare battery load? Then get the airlines to fix the friggin seat power outlets!!!I'd be more than happy to leave the spares if I could use my power supply, but on over half the flights I've taken that have them (and the airlines are more than happy to advertise their presence when I'm buying a ticket) the damned things are busted and/or shut off.

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