Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania. He prefers a slower pace to his travels to explore destinations more in-depth and to get a feel for what life is actually like there. When he’s not writing, he’s usually off exploring trails with his fiancée, Kaitlyn.
Your phone is dead, and you’re getting on the airline. That’s where a power bank comes in. But can you bring portable chargers on a plane? Get your answer here.
Your battery icon is blinking red, and you’re about to go through TSA.
Your chargers and power banks are in your backpack, but you’re unsure if you can take them on the plane. Are you about to get scolded in front of everyone?
It’s a valid concern. And with TSA’s laundry list of rules, it feels like you’d spend a workday finding your answer.
But, through my own experience and reading TSA’s rules, I’ve got the answer for you.
Let’s get into it.
Can you bring a portable charger on your flight in your carry-on luggage in the US?
Yes, portable chargers are allowed on planes.
According to the US TSA Pipeline and Security Guidelines, any lithium-ion battery must be packed in your carry-on bag. And power banks are labeled as lithium-ion batteries according to the Pipeline and Security of Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
So, if you pack a power bank, keep it in your carry-on luggage, not your checked luggage.
Most portable chargers or power banks today use a lithium-ion battery, but check with your product to be sure. Also, it’s important to know your power pack. Know the battery capacity, power output, and other specifications in case you need it.
This is all for safety reasons.
For example, if the lithium-ion battery short circuits and catches fire in the cabin, it’s easier for crew members to put it out. However, if it’s in your checked luggage in the cargo, it presents a risk to the entire plane.
So, you’re allowed to bring your portable charger on the plane. Just have it in an easy spot to pull out when you go through TSA security checks.
But, for more detailed information, let’s dive into the specifics.
FAA and TSA regulations for battery packs
While you’re allowed to take your external battery on a plane, you should know the regulations.
TSA and FAA won’t let you pack 20 spare batteries or external chargers in your luggage and be off. That’d be too easy (and dangerous).
So, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The portable charger must not exceed 100wH (wH = watt-Hours).
- The portable battery shouldn’t have a capacity greater than 27000 mAh (mAh = milliamp Hour).
- Special considerations can be made for 160wH lithium batteries, but get permission from the airline first.
- It isn’t clear the limits on the number carried in carry-on baggage, but you’re generally allowed two batteries in your carry-on.
- Keep it in an easy-to-reach place to take it out through security.
Keep spare batteries in their original packaging if possible to help speed up the process. The power capacity and power output are clearly labeled on it for reference.
Regulations for a portable charger on a plane for international flights
All of the above information is great…if you’re flying within US borders.
But what about international flights? While you’ll always want to check with the particular airline and airport, I’ll turn to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
First, they recommend you keep all electronic devices in your carry-on baggage, including spare batteries of any type on planes, during air travel. If you choose to pack it in your checked baggage, you need permission from the airline, and you must switch the battery’s power completely off.
However, according to IATA regulations, no lithium-ion batteries are allowed in checked baggage in the cargo.
So, the regulations clearly state that all batteries must be in your carry-on baggage (at least portable ones).
That’s great news!
Now, what about the specifics?
International Air Transport Association regulations for power banks
Like TSA and FAA, IATA has its own requirements for you to know.
Luckily, they’re fairly similar to the ones TSA and FAA use, so it’ll be easy to remember:
- Remember that it must not exceed 100wH. If the max is 100wH, you can carry it on the plane.
- Power banks with the watt-hours listed on the battery case will help.
- You’re allowed to transport external battery packs if they don’t exceed 27000 mAh.
- Your batteries on planes must be in your carry-on baggage.
If you’re flying within the EU, you must abide by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations.
However, their regulations largely follow the ones set by the TSA, FAA, and IATA.
Common Items You Must Pack in Your Carry-On
Portable chargers aren’t the only items that can’t be stored in your checked bag.
There is an exhaustive list on the TSA website of where you need to pack particular items. And when I say exhaustive, I mean it’s 49 pages long.
It includes everything you can think of, from nunchucks to alcohol and from live lobsters to artificial skeleton bones.
If you want to bring it on a plane, this list will have you covered. It even has a convenient search function to make it easier for you.
You can check the TSA website for a complete list.
But here are some everyday items you may have yourself:
- Lighters (all kinds)
- Cordless Curling Irons
- E-Cigs and Vapes
- Fuel Cells to charge electronic devices
- Cordless Hair Straightener
- Medical Devices
Common Items You Must Pack in Your Checked Bag
While the items above belong in your carry-on, some things are strictly forbidden from being brought into the cabin.
TSA demands that you pack these items into your checked bag for safety and health reasons. It’ll go under the plane and stay there until you’re at baggage pickup.
So, here are some everyday items you might have that must go in your checked baggage:
- Any type of weapon, knives, or guns
- Any tools (drills, screwdrivers, blades, etc.)
- Any large sports equipment (hockey/lacrosse sticks, golf clubs, ski poles, etc.)
- Any Battery-Powered Wheelchairs or Mobility Devices
- Cast Iron Cookware
- Cutting Boards
- Magic 8 Ball
- Pepper Spray
Best Portable Chargers You Can Take on Planes
Okay, now that we’ve ironed out why and what you can take on a plane, let’s check out some of the best portable chargers.
Do you bring your portable charger on the plane when you fly?
Knowing what you can or can’t pack in your carry-on and checked luggage saves you a headache at the airport.
Making your airport experience as seamless as possible is the number one goal. And having to unpack and then repack your luggage isn’t seamless.
If you’re unsure where to pack an item, check TSA’s complete list of allowed items. Once that’s done, pack your bag and enjoy your flight!