A power bank is the perfect partner for your power-hungry devices, but can you take it onto an airplane with you?
In this article, you will find everything you need to know about bringing a power bank onto a commercial flight.
According to the TSA, you can bring a 20000 mAh power bank onto an airplane but only as hand luggage or in your carry-on.
TSA rules forbid bringing power banks inside checked luggage, regardless of the power rating.
These rules might confuse you; however, if you don’t want to read this entire article, here is, in a nutshell, everything you need to know about flying with a power bank:
- Power banks are not allowed in checked luggage.
- 0-100Wh power banks require no airline approval.
- 100-160Wh power banks require airline approval.
- Power banks over 160Wh are not allowed on airplanes.
- You can bring a maximum of two power banks onto a plane.
You should know that, although most airlines follow these rules, sometimes, when you travel with a power bank between 100-160Wh, they might refuse to allow it on board.
Asking for airline approval doesn’t mean that you will automatically get it.
Related: Can you bring lightbulbs on a plane?
For example, some passengers flew hundreds of times with power banks between 100-160Wh, and out of the blue, their requests got rejected.
What’s also confusing is that some airlines, like Lufthansa, clearly state on their site that you need airline approval for a power bank with an energy level between 100 Wh and 160 Wh, but “This permission is not given in writing. It is given upon request and confirmed verbally at the Service Center or, at the latest, when checking in at the airport“-source.
Lufthansa implies that anyone can bring their 100-160Wh power bank on board, but the airline will not be made responsible if they decide not to allow it.
If you want to travel with a power bank in the 100-160Wh range, you should contact the airline prior to booking the flight and ask for their consent.
It would be ideal if the airline could give you a written response. Keep in mind that you should have the airline’s written approval on your phone at security screening.
Can you bring a 10000mAh power bank onto an airplane?
Absolutely. A 10000 mAh power bank has a nominal power rating of 36Wh and is way under the 100Wh limit set by the TSA.
As with any device that contains lithium, you are allowed to bring it on board only in your carry-on, not in checked luggage.
How many power banks can you take with you onto a plane?
TSA rules about this are crystal clear. As long as your power banks respect the “Wh rule,” you can bring up to 2 power banks with you onto an airplane. This limit is per passenger and not per baggage.
Be careful about this limit since people tend to forget that small portable chargers used to charge vapes or smartwatches are considered power banks by the TSA.
The TSA considers a power bank to be a device that contains a lithium battery that charges other electronic devices. By this definition, TSA agents could even consider an AirPod charging case a power bank since it contains a lithium battery.
Why does TSA stop some people from bringing their power banks with them?
There are rare occurrences when TSA agents stop people with power banks, although their devices adhere to TSA rules. In most cases, there is a simple explanation: their power banks showed signs of external damage.
If your power bank has cracks all over it and you “fix it” with tape, be aware that airport security might see your device as a security risk and will not allow you to board the plane with it.
How many watt hours is 20000 mAh?
To find the answer to this question, you need first need to know the formula to calculate Wh (Watt hours): Wh = mAh × V / 1000
Seem confusing? Actually, is rather easy.
For example, the Wh for an Anker Portable Charger (PowerCore Essential 20K) 20000 mAh Battery, 3.6v is calculated this way:
20000 x 3.6/1000= 72 Wh. This is under the TSA limit of 100Wh.
So the watt-hour rating for a 20000 mAh power bank is 72Wh.
If the internal battery of your power bank has a rating of 3.7v, then the power bank will have a rating of 74 Wh; 20000 x 3.7/1000= 74 Wh.
Why are power banks not allowed in checked luggage?
All power banks contain a small amount of lithium; in certain situations, they can catch fire and even explode.
This happens mainly because the battery inside the power bank was made with low-quality components or has some manufacturing defects.
Another reason is external damage. If your power bank was in checked luggage, air turbulence could damage it and consequently burst into flames.
Both TSA and airlines don’t want that, and I can’t blame them. However, the risk to the plane’s safety is partially mitigated when the power banks are in the cabin, as someone will always be available to extinguish the fire quickly.
Can you bring a 50000 mAh power bank in flight?
Unfortunately, you can’t bring a 50000 mAh power bank onto an airplane. A 50000 mAh power bank has a nominal rating of 180 Wh, and it’s way over the limits of 100Wh or 160Wh (carrier’s approval) imposed by the TSA.
What is the biggest power bank you can take on a plane?
There are two situations. One is when you don’t have prior approval from the airline; in this case, your power bank should be under the 100Wh limit.
The second one is when you have the airline’s approval; in this case, you can bring a power bank with a rating between 100-160Wh.
In both cases, the maximum number of power banks that could be brought onto an airplane is two per passenger.
In the first case, the power bank you can take onto an airplane should have a rating of slightly less than 27000 mAh since 27000 x 3.6/1000= 100Wh.
Luckily, there are power banks available just under the 27000 mAh mark.
For example, this model from Anker has a rating of 26800 mAh.
In the second case, you can bring a power bank with a power rating up to 43000 mAh.
Technically speaking, the biggest power bank you can bring on a plane has a nominal energy level of 43000 mAh, as long as you have the carrier’s approval.
Should you buy a 26800 mAh power bank if you already have a 20000 mAh one?
Usually, a power bank can supply around 70% of its power to other devices.
Why do I say 70% efficiency when power banks are advertised as having over 80% efficiency or even 90%? A power bank indeed has over 80% efficiency, but people forgot to mention the power efficiency of the device that is being charged.
A fully charged 20000 mAh offers around 14000 mAh of power, whereas a 26800 one offers around 18500 mAh. The difference is roughly 4500 mAh.
What does this number mean in real life?
The answer is easy—4500 mAh is enough to charge your smartphone from 0 to 100%.
If having this extra power is essential for you, then go for it and purchase a 26800 mAh power bank.
Are power banks allowed on international flights?
Power banks are allowed on international flights. This is because most airlines adhere to the same rules that the TSA follows.
However, if you have a power bank with a rating between 100-160Wh that require the airline’s approval, you need to know that some airlines around the globe will not allow them on board their planes.
Can airport scanners detect batteries and power banks in checked luggage?
Yes and yes. The airport scanner will detect power banks and batteries inside the checked luggage.
Moreover, airport security is specially trained to spot them since, if they miss a power bank, that could endanger the plane’s safety.
That brings us to the next question.
What happened if you “forgot” your power bank inside your checked luggage?
Usually, nothing happens. The x-ray scanner detects the power bank, your luggage is opened, and the power bank is taken.
You will not be fined. When you receive the baggage, you will find inside a notice of baggage inspection left there by the TSA.
However, rules are different when you fly internationally. In some areas, you will be fined for having one in the checked luggage.
The power bank catches fire mid-flight. What to do?
The chance of this happening to you or seeing this happening to others is tiny but not beyond the realm of possibility. If this worst-case scenario happens, here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Inform the cabin crew. You should also inform the cabin crew if the power bank produces smoke.
Step 2: Get out of their way and obey the cabin crew’s commands.
Whatever you do, don’t panic and try to extinguish the fire by yourself. Flight attendants are trained to deal with this kind of emergency. You are not.
How much mAh is 100Wh?
If we want to be accurate:
At 3.6v, a 100Wh nominal power rating = 27777.7 mAh.
At 3.7v, a 100Wh nominal power rating = 27027.1 mAh
Do power banks contain lithium?
Yes, all consumer power banks sold nowadays contain lithium in different quantities.
Do you need to take out your power bank at the airport?
That depends on the size of it. The TSA specifies that all electronic devices bigger than smartphones should be placed in the bin at the security checkpoint.
If you have a small power bank, you could leave it inside your carry-on.
If you are unsure if your power bank qualifies as big or small, that means you should place it in the bin.
Can you bring a car battery on a plane?
Unfortunately, you can’t. The TSA clearly specifies that car batteries can’t be brought onto an airplane.
Can you bring a battery charger on a plane?
Battery chargers are allowed in carry-on and checked luggage if they don’t contain an electric power source.
TSA guidelines suggest that the charger’s electrical cord should be wrapped tightly around the charger before placing it in the luggage.