Flying with Electric Bike Batteries? Tips and Advice

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hi guys, recently a few people have reached out regarding flying on commercial airlines with electric bikes and their large Lithium-ion batteries. I've done some preliminary research and wanted to share for feedback and to hear what has worked for you.

My understanding is that Lithium-ion batteries between 100 to 300 watt hours are permitted as carry on luggage as long as they fit inside your luggage. I've used the advanced search tool on EBR to show all of the ebikes I've reviewed with batteries < 300 watt hours but note, not all of them will have the dimensions to fit inside your checked bags. Here is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) source I am referencing and below is a short snippet from it.

Passengers can also bring two (2) larger lithium-ion batteries (more than 8 less than 25 grams of equivalent lithium content per battery or about 100-300 watt hours per battery) in their carry-on. This size covers the largest aftermarket extended-life laptop batteries and most lithium-ion batteries for professional-grade audio/visual equipment. Most lithium-ion batteries are below this size.

For those of you who would prefer to check the large, heavy battery of your electric bike, the FAA stipulates that the battery must be installed in the device but protected from accidental activation. Some electric scooters (like the Glion) actually come with physical cutoff switches to satisfy this requirement. Unfortunately, for large Lithium-ion batteries you are not permitted to check them outside of equipment. I've attached the original FAA .pdf along with a screenshot of their chart that details each battery type and size with associated carry on vs. check approval status:

faa-battery-regulations.jpg

I recently reviewed the EcoReco M5 and YouTube member Mikeykaysuper made the following comments about his experience flying with the EcoReco M3 (which has nearly the same design and the same sized battery).

I have taken my M3 on three airline trips on Southwest and Icelandair and had no problem putting it on as a checked bag. I informed them that it was 300 watt hours and the battery was not readily remove able, I bought a solid wheeled golf case that the M3 fits into perfect and it makes transporting it easy and it is very protected . . . The case is ~$200.00 but is real tough and the scooter fits folded up and with the front wheel turned. When they ask to look at it at the check in counter it just takes a second to unlock and open it. I had a tough time the first trip I made with the scooter in the original box because the airline required me to open and remove the scooter so they could see it and it took about twenty minutes and than they wanted customs fees when I got overseas. So now with the golf case it is much easier, here's the one I got: SKB 2SKB-4812WS ATA Standard Golf Travel Case on Amazon.
 

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J.R.

Well-Known Member
Hi guys, recently a few people have reached out regarding flying on commercial airlines with electric bikes and their large Lithium-ion batteries. I've done some preliminary research and wanted to share for feedback and to hear what has worked for you.

My understanding is that Lithium-ion batteries between 100 to 300 watt hours are permitted as carry on luggage as long as they fit inside your luggage. I've used the advanced search tool on EBR to show all of the ebikes I've reviewed with batteries < 300 watt hours but note, not all of them will have the dimensions to fit inside your checked bags. Here is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) source I am referencing and below is a short snippet from it.



For those of you who would prefer to check the large, heavy battery of your electric bike, the FAA stipulates that the battery must be installed in the device but protected from accidental activation. Some electric scooters (like the Glion) actually come with physical cutoff switches to satisfy this requirement. Unfortunately, for large Lithium-ion batteries you are not permitted to check them outside of equipment. I've attached the original FAA .pdf along with a screenshot of their chart that details each battery type and size with associated carry on vs. check approval status:

View attachment 2196

I recently reviewed the EcoReco M5 and YouTube member Mikeykaysuper made the following comments about his experience flying with the EcoReco M3 (which has nearly the same design and the same sized battery).

A good post for the unused "Resources" section?
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
A good post for the unused "Resources" section?
Great idea, that section is a bit misleading... it's meant for sharing or selling digital files like ebooks and stuff. I really don't use it :/
 

Tim Hardman

New Member
I am currently (10/9/15) researching this topic of flying with “larger than normal” Lithium rechargeable batteries. My application is different than electric bike battery but close to the same “category” as far as battery type and size…in my case a motorcycle battery that is 6” x 5” x 4” and less than 100 Whr (13.2V x 6A = 80 Whr), well below some of the upper limits I’ve seen of 100 Whr and 160 Whr. The document sited in this thread, first post, stating 300Whr for a lithium battery carried on board in passenger section of plane is outdated. See bottom left of first page of document, it says Jan 2014. The same chart is out there *(updated) dated Feb 2015 with the max range of 100-160 and not 300Wh.


From what I have read, there are at least three bureaucracies one has to satisfy. FAA, TSA and the Airline you are flying on. Each one has a different rule book. FAA has the most definitive rules out there that we can access and print out to take with us. They say you can carry-on a maximum of 2 stand alone, “spare” Lithium rechargeable batteries with a capacity of 100 Wh Watt hours or less. With “special permission” that limit can go up to 160 Wh but there is no instruction on how to get special permission and who to get it from…FAA, TSA or Airline. Also, these larger limit rechargeable Lithium batteries are discussed in the context of portable electronic devices and they then go on to further specify examples of Laptop and Audio/Visual equipment batteries as the “large stand alone batteries with max of 100 or 160 Ah). In other areas of the regulations, Car batteries are specifically sited as “not allowed” period, with no reference to size or weight or Wh. Motorcycle batteries and Electric bike batteries are not specifically addressed in anything I have found. But I could see how a TSA agent could just “lump in” motorcycle battery with car battery and disallow it.


It seems to me TSA is the only bureaucracy a traveler needs to satisfy since there is no Airline Security check point or FAA Security check point we have to deal with in an airport. TSA is who we have to satisfy and it may just be luck of the draw regarding the particular TSA agent you get that day who makes the yes/no decision on your battery. I hate leaving something like this up to chance as it would be both a significant expense and inconvenience if I was denied passage through TSA with my battery. I would prefer to have some kind of document “permission slip” from TSA that I could get in advance and carry with me when transporting the battery through airport security….anyone know if this possible?


*updated document can be found here: http://www.faa.gov/Go/PackSafe

scroll down the opening page to chart, select 4th tab from left on top of chart (Batteries and Electronics), then go down to the 6th row, (Lithium Batteries….) and select (Details) on far right side of the row. Scroll down to very last line of the page and select the link that says (Airline passenger and Batteries. Pdf)
 

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one4torque

Active Member
It seems you could contact a bike shop at your destination to rent a battery for this purpose, or buy/use at your destination, and have the bike shop ship it to your house at the end of your trip.

Or other option... fedex the battery ahead of your flight..... then reverse at end of trip.

If I bring my stealth bomber to upper michigan (UP) next spring, I'll probably road trip a few e-bikes in the p/u truck to avoid all this shipping hassle. I'm just jones-in to get my stealth on some of the fabulous UP snow-mobile trails in the spring.
 

Tim Hardman

New Member
Thanks for the reply one4torque, I appreciate your thought and time however I'd respectfully prefer to keep the discussion focused on "getting rechargeable Lithium batteries through TSA at the airport and any experience others have had doing this or problems they encountered and solutions if they were able to work something out with TSA or airport officials"

I have discussed "to death" work arounds that don't involve flying with the battery in other threads/forums and that is now completed so I'd prefer not to go back there in this thread....thank you.
 
I will be touring the world on an e-bike and this info. is very important to me. I believe the old TSA regulations were no more that 300 watt hours on a domestic flight and no more than (2) 160 watt hour batteries on an international flight. I have recently received a message from Gary Corbett, who set the world distance record for touring on an electric bike that the law has changed in 2016 and that now no lithium bike battery is allowed on any flights, whether attached to the bike as checked baggage or in your carry on luggage. What is the true up-to-date regulations on this matter.
 

Howard

New Member
I will be touring the world on an e-bike and this info. is very important to me. I believe the old TSA regulations were no more that 300 watt hours on a domestic flight and no more than (2) 160 watt hour batteries on an international flight. I have recently received a message from Gary Corbett, who set the world distance record for touring on an electric bike that the law has changed in 2016 and that now no lithium bike battery is allowed on any flights, whether attached to the bike as checked baggage or in your carry on luggage. What is the true up-to-date regulations on this matter.
When I looked in the fourth quarter of 2015, may reading of the following indicates that the situation is more dire and that lithium batteries are more restricted under section 18 as follows:http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-id...56cf4ad7&mc=true&node=se49.2.175_110&rgn=div8 18 (ii) For a lithium ion battery, the Watt-hour rating must not exceed 100 Wh. With the approval of the operator, portable electronic devices may contain lithium ion batteries exceeding 100 Wh, but not exceeding 160 Wh and no more than two individually protected lithium ion batteries each exceeding 100 Wh, but not exceeding 160 Wh, may be carried per person as spare batteries in carry-on baggage. I also looked at the following which led me to the above reference: http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/avia...afety/safo/all_safos/media/2015/safo15010.pdf
 

5threeone

New Member
As I read through those two links, the first one seemed to indicate by the very limitation of Wh capacity, taking an e-bike and battery are impractical. My Qwic has a 300 Wh battery. The second link pretty well says its a non-starter. Somewhere between the two readings I think I have made my mind up not to even attempt to fly my e-bike anywhere. In previous years I have dismantled and bagged my Moulton many times to Japan from UK. Also my conventional touring machine just bubble wrapped. Now both of those are gone; sold to younger legs. I have put a few photos here to show how I did things.
 

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Thanks for the info. and the photos. I most likely will be riding a folding electric and will be pulling a trailer (7o lbs. fully loaded). I will have 5 international flights (from the U.S. to South America, from South America to Western Europe, from Europe to Asia, from Asia to Australia and from Australia back to the U.S.). I have not yet picked the e-bike to do the trip, do any of you have suggestions based on the new TSA regulations?
 

5threeone

New Member
Here is a helpful extract from one of Grant Walter's accounts.......

"I have found the Achilles Heel of touring with an e-bike. Flying.

Now bikes and planes have never gone well together, it’s always been a hassle to get your bike aboard a plane but it appears that an e-bike takes the problem to a whole other level.

The ‘bike policy’ of some airlines simply say ‘no electric bikes’, others prohibit bikes ‘with motors’, others are silent about types of bikes; well, tandems and recumbents are almost always unwanted by airlines. They rely on ‘prohibited articles’ regulations and the lithium batteries such as most e-bikes have are a prohibited item and extrapolate from that and they won’t fly e-bikes (even without the battery, go figure!)

A very nice young man – who asked that his airline not be identified – commented that the current attitude of airlines to e-bikes is rather undermined by the fact that all airlines carry lithium battery powered wheelchairs with few or no special conditions.

Anyway, I have neither the time nor the energy to fight airlines, so I have turned to freight consolidators, where some of the same issues arise – the lithium battery for example – but at least they are willing to work with me to find a solution."
 

Jack Tyler

Active Member
Here is fresh news on shipping lithium batteries by air that reflects the fact that shipping practices, whatever they may be, can be a moving target. So no matter how diligent one's search for a pathway might be today, it could change tomorrow. Of course, when regulators issue severe warnings and instruct inspectors to verify compliance, it puts a heavy bias on the operators (airlines & air freight companies) to simply avoid what's being warned about altogether. The SAFO document that is the basis of the article has a good deal more detail.

For a multi-continental ebike trip, it may just be that prepositioning batteries is the least expensive and most hassle free option. We've done that multiple times when transocean sailing and, provided you can make arrangements with a freight forwarder or mail handler to accept delivery, it should work well. Some reasonable period of time in advance, place the battery pack order, specify surface shipping to the next distant arrival point, provide the delivery contact details and benefit by the low cost of surface shipping vs. air freight. Battery health would be a concern but thoughtful timing of each order should solve that problem. Just a thought...
 
I hope this problem can be solved by 2018 as I have tried the battery placement strategy, and it has turned out to be very problematic. I am scheduled to leave on my Rush To The Cure For Pancreatic Cancer World Tour in 2018. Since my balance is becoming more problematic by the day, I may have to go with a folding recumbent e-trike. I have been told because of my age during the trip (70) and my physical limitations I may be able to apply for the same international airline access as a person traveling with a wheelchair. This though will not solve the problem for others doing international e-bike tours. My trip is not only to help save lives of those that are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (my mother died as a result of the disease and my younger sister has been diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer), but to help make the e-bike internationally transportable.
 

wondering

New Member
My wife, who is disabled, uses a bionix powered folding ICE trike to get around and exercise. We wanted to take the eTrike to Denver from NY June 2016, however, transporting the 550 watthour bionix P 350 DV Li battery is impossible on all counts. Can't take on a plane, whether in checked or carry on luggage. Fedex and UPS won't touch it. Ironically, if it was non-removably installed in a wheelchair it would be no problem. We are now going to have to rent a battery in Denver at $35/day for 6 days. Oh yeah--and I'm going to have to purchase a rack mount ($175) to replace my downtube mount because there are no rentable downtube bionix batteries in Denver. Total friggin' pain in the ass.
 

blueworm

New Member
I am buying a Xiaomi Micycle Folding Electric Bike in China in a few weeks. What the chances this will not be allowed to board the plane? The battery is 200.8 wh and will fit in luggage easily being that it is a folding bike.

Airline is China Eastern.

Jerry
 

Lost

Active Member
Batteries have already taken out 2 747's.

And several other planes have had problems.

As someone who flew freight for 22 years, I beg you please don't skirt the rules. Fires on an aircraft are the worst problem a crew will ever face. Shipping on Fedex (or any other air carrier) and willfully not disclosing the contents (they will NOT accept over 100 watt hour batteries) will land you in jail for a LONG time if there is an incident involving an item you did not disclose.

To keep it real, read the last words from the UPS 747 crew that had a shipment of batteries light off.
https://fearoflanding.com/accidents/accident-reports/ups-flight-6-uncontained-cargo-fire/

Either rent at your destination or find a way to do without. Wonder why they don't allow hoverboards or note 7's?
 

Lost

Active Member
"
Spare
lithium metal and lithium ion/polymer batteries are prohibited in checked baggage

this includes external battery packs
. Electronic
cigarettes and vaporizers are also prohibited in checked baggage. “Checked baggage” includes bags checked at the gate or pla
neside." (Link Removed - No Longer Exists)
 

Alex M

Well-Known Member
NYC store is right - FAA have tightened the rules. Li batteries are allowed max 160WH per battery. Used to be 300WH - not anymore. New rules since 2016, scroll down to the table: (Link Removed - No Longer Exists)
Max 2 batteries per passenger.
Doesn't matter carry-on or checked, spares or in the equipment, it's still 2*160WH.
Airlines have the final say, i.e. they may refuse for some reason - though they shouldn't if it looks good and packed properly.

This is for flights over the US. For flights outside US FAA already had 160W limit a few years ago. So, 200.8WH battery (somebody asked) will not be allowed if Chinamen in the airport of origin are doing their job right.
 
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