Many people rely on their devices and don’t always have access to plugs to keep them up and running.
Fortunately, portable chargers are a great way to juice up mobile phones, laptops, and tablets while on the go.
That said, portable power banks often house lithium-ion batteries, which are highly efficient but are tightly regulated under certain circumstances, including when traveling by plane.
According to TSA regulations, passengers must pack portable chargers containing lithium-ion batteries in their carry-on luggage. Lithium-ion batteries are potentially flammable, making them unsafe in checked baggage. If a lithium-ion battery does catch on fire, it’s easier to extinguish it in the aircraft cabin.
This article covers how to pack portable chargers for air travel, airline policies on these devices, and the best portable chargers to bring on a plane.
Can You Pack Portable Chargers in Carry-On Luggage?
Portable chargers made with lithium-ion batteries must be packed in carry-on luggage.
This rule is convenient since passengers may want their chargers during their flight, as airline power sources can be flaky (or non-existent).
Another important factor when traveling with a portable charger is how much power it can generate.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), rechargeable devices powered by lithium-ion batteries are limited to 100 watt hours (Wh) or less.
These days, most portable chargers will state how many watt hours they contain, either on the charger itself or the packaging it came in.
If the charger doesn’t provide watt hours but lists its milliamp hours (mAh) and voltage (V), you can figure out the watt hours using simple math.
How Do You Calculate Watt Hours?
Travelers can calculate watt hours by multiplying milliamp hours by voltage and dividing by 1000.
The equation looks like this:
Wh = mAh × V / 1000
Passengers with portable chargers that don’t provide the power capacity shouldn’t risk taking it on a plane.
TSA agents can measure how many watt hours a charger contains, but it may be confiscated if it’s over 100 Wh.
How Many Lithium-Ion Batteries Are Allowed in Carry-On Luggage?
The TSA and FAA don’t mention how many lithium-ion batteries of 100 Wh or less are allowed in carry-ons; however, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) specifies that travelers can pack up to 20 spare batteries if they are 100 Wh or less.
It’s also often the case that US and international airlines have different restrictions regarding carry-on items, and passengers should always check with their airline before packing batteries in bulk.
For those intent on traveling with multiple batteries, the TSA and FAA state that they must be for personal use (not commercial purposes).
Can You Bring Bigger Lithium-Ion Batteries on a Plane?
According to the FAA, up to two spare batteries with larger power ratings (100.1 to 160 Wh) are allowed on planes if the passenger receives permission from the airline.
Can You Pack Portable Chargers in Checked Luggage?
Because lithium-ion batteries are flammable under rare circumstances, they cannot be packed in checked luggage.
If a fire starts inside the cargo hold, it can spread quickly and go unnoticed until it reaches the cabin.
While no one wants a fire in any part of the plane, they are easier to extinguish inside the aircraft’s cabin.
If the airline requires travelers to gate-check their carry-on, all uninstalled lithium-ion batteries must be declared and removed from the bag before it is checked.
How to Pack Portable Chargers for Air Travel
Travelers should pack portable chargers and power banks in a way that protects them from damage and short circuits.
Keep the device’s battery terminals away from other metals by covering them with tape, leaving them in retail packaging, or tucking them in a protective case, sleeve, or pouch.
The Best Portable Chargers to Bring on a Plane
The best portable chargers to bring on a plane are compact, 100 Wh or less, and energy efficient.
Here are three portable chargers that fit the bill:
1. Goal Zero Sherpa 100 PD QI
The Goal Zero Sherpa is a sturdy portable charger with a capacity of approximately 94.72 Wh.
This charger is 7.5” x 3.7” x 1” (19.05 cm x 9.3 cm x 2.54 cm) and weighs 22.4 oz (635 g).
It features 2 USB Type-A ports, 1 USB Type-C Port, a wireless charging pad, and solar power charging.
The best part is that the Goal Zero Sherpa only takes about three hours to charge.
2. RAVPower 20000mAh PD 60W
The RAVPower portable charger has a rate of about 74 Wh, charges in three hours, and weighs only 13.4 oz (408 g).
This device is side-pocket-friendly, coming in at 6” x 2.6” x 1” (15.24 cm x 6.60 cm x 2.54 cm).
It supports USB Type A and USB Type C ports and includes high-quality PD output that efficiently charges MacBook Pros.
This charger also features overheating and short-circuit protection.
3. Samsung Wireless Portable charger 10000mAh
The slick Samsung Wireless Portable Charger fuels up in 3.5 hours and has a capacity of around 33 Wh.
It weighs 11.2 oz (317 g) and is 5.9” x 2.8” x 0.5” (14.99 cm x 7.11 cm x 1.27 cm) (in other words, it’s super easy to toss in a carry-on and takes up almost no space!)
This device allows users to enjoy high-speed charging that accommodates USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports.
According to TSA and FAA regulations, portable chargers must be packed in carry-on luggage, especially if they run on lithium-ion batteries.
Typically, portable chargers must have a capacity of 100 Wh or less; however, with the airline’s approval, passengers can bring up to two higher capacity batteries of 100.1 to 160 Wh each.
The safest way to pack portable chargers is by covering the battery terminals and tucking the device inside a protective case or bag.
To avoid awkward experiences with airport security or airline staff, always review the rules for electronic devices before packing your bag.
If you have any questions, contact the airline for further clarification.
Table of Contents
- Can You Pack Portable Chargers in Carry-On Luggage?
- Can You Pack Portable Chargers in Checked Luggage?
- How to Pack Portable Chargers for Air Travel
- The Best Portable Chargers to Bring on a Plane