Hoverboard scooters have soared in popularity in the recent past and this has led to the mushrooming of several manufacturers wanting to cash on the Hoverboard mania by producing cheap ones. This however had severe side effects, as we might have been reading in the news recently, there has been more than one Hoverboard explosion incident that has not just harmed the users but has also damaged the surrounding properties.
For the context, a Hoverboard seemingly blew up like a bomb and it also burned down an entire house in Kent, not to mention the number of lives put into risk. These incidents have prompted many Airlines to ban Hoverboards on the flights citing obvious fire hazards. In fact, Amazon too has pulled some hoverboards/segways from the site. Sadly, it’s still not known why that hoverboard caught fire.
The excerpt from the Malaysian Airlines advisory reads “small vehicles that are powered by Lithium Ion batteries in passenger checked baggage or carry on baggage have been classified as dangerous goods.” Futher it also mentions that the restrictions have been recommended to all the operators by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the passengers safety. It has to be noted that the advisory has uses the word “recommended” which lets the operators decide whether they want to allow the battery operated gadgets or not. Malaysian Airlines (and others like Singapore airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta etc.) have decided to play it safe and bars its patrons from carrying Personal Movement Devices (PMD) which includes the air wheel and the solo wheel.
The problem lies with the fact that almost each and every gadget these days is powered by Lithium Ion batteries and this includes the run of the mill laptops, drones, quadcopters, most of the RC toys and also our cellphones.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has come up with safety guidelines for the batteries being transported in airplanes. The dry cell batteries inclusive of AA, AAA, 9-Volt, Button sized cells and Dry cell rechargeable batteries like Nickel Metal Hydride and Nickel Cadmium will be allowed in carry-on bags. The guidelines also clarify that Lithium ion batteries (LIPO, rechargeable lithium, lithium polymer) will be allowed to be carried on the plane.
FAA further recommends the passengers to avoid carrying batteries in the checked in bags and instead place them in the carry-ons. The guidelines clearly bans wet batteries or spillable batteries which are usually used to power the scooter or a Wheelchair (We hope the airlines are making some alternative arrangements for transporting the wheelchair which would otherwise prove to be a big bummer for the differently abled folks.) So the laptops, camera batteries, laptops can be carried on plane but the caveat comes in the form of another clause which states “Up to two larger lithium ion batteries (more than 8 grams, upto 25 grams of equivalent lithium content per battery)” An average drone will need a 8 grams of lithium thus sealing your total quota of carrying batteries.
Over and above this, although the FAA doesn’t directly ban the checking in of drones in the baggage this might be overridden by the Airlines safety policies. In a nutshell, the Airlines don’t seem to have a clear policy on the carrying of drones and this will leave you in the hands of airport security representatives who may or may not have the required understanding of the goods being carried.