Monday, February 22, 2010

Lithium Ion battery refused on Alaska Airlines flight

From Vickie:

I tried to take my Travel Scoot on a flight on Alaska Airlines last week and was denied boarding due to the litium ion battery. I have the 24 gram battery and was told that the FAA only allows lead acid batteries on mobility devices except for Segways. Anyone else ever have this problem?


I looked on the TravelScoot website, at and there are two lithium ion batteries. There is the 9.6 Ah Li-Ion that is approved for air travel and the 18 Ah Li-Ion that is not approved for air travel. The 24 gram one is the smaller battery, which is approved for airline travel.

The Department of Transportation rules governing lithium ion batteries on airline flights are at . I print a copy of this and take it with me when I fly with my lithium ion battery.

The FAA regulations are available here:

Look on pages 7-9 to see the battery regulations. If you go to page 9, regulation 49 CFR 175.10(a) is cited and says (in part), "...For a lithium-ion battery, an aggregate equivalent lithium content of not more than 8 grams per battery, except that up to two batteries with an aggregate equivalent lithium content of more than 8 grams but not more than 25 grams may be carried."

This is from the FAA's PDF:

"The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for the security screening of passengers and their baggage at U.S. airports. For questions about TSA "prohibited items" or other air travel security measures please go to: or contact the TSA Contact Center at: 1-866-289-9673 or"


  1. So sorry you went thru this, Vickie.

    At this government website, pointed to by the TSA website -- -- it is clearly stated that:

    " "Larger" lithium ion batteries are rated between 100 and 300 watt-hours (8-25 g equivalent lithium content, or ELC.)"


    "You are allowed one larger lithium ion battery installed in a device, plus up to 2 spare larger lithium ion batteries. These are in addition to any smaller lithium ion batteries. For smaller lithium ion batteries, just follow the Basic rules.

    Lithium ion batteries rated over 300 watt-hours (25 g ELC) are forbidden. "

    I carried a printout of this page on my recent trip on AirTran, but never needed it.

    Also, in my opinion, it makes no sense to make an exception for a Segway. Either it's safe or it's not.

    All that said, each airline can create its own rules. But I do not believe that Alaska Airlines correctly understood the FAA regulations.


    1. just an interesting side note, to me anyway :-). The 787 uses lithium ion batteries. They were grounded for several months while Boeing figured out why they kept overheating and catching on fire. I don't see how they can prevent you from using batteries that the manufacturer uses on the planes itself.

  2. p.s. Alaska Airlines own website ( -- see Lithium batteries) points to the above-listed website for more information on Li-ion batteries.

    See also

    "Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air transport ALL TYPES (emphasis mine) of personal wheelchairs, including folding, collapsible, and non-folding manual wheelchairs; electric/battery-powered wheelchairs; and electric-powered carts and scooters. "

    and, to file your complaint:

  3. I am just a new Travelscoot user so I do not know all the "ins and outs" but I have discovered something interesting. The 3rd generation Li-ion batteries, called a LiFEPo4, while not as powerful as the Li-ion batteries is cheaper and can be recycled over 2000 times, by some accounts upwards of 5000 times. The Li-ion can only be expected to recycle around 500 times. A 20 ah 24v LiFePo4 battery is available on ebay for about 350 bucks (the20 ah Li-ion is 1300 bucks) shipping included. If someone wants to read up on these batteries I can give you some web sites. email me at and I will share the websites. I intend to order one of the LiFePo4 batteries sometime this week. The LiFePo4 batteries are much much safer. They will not catch on fire or explode like the Li-ion batteries will if not handled properly. I will post how well it works when I know something.

    Bob Kirkhuff

  4. hi,
    where did u hear that segways are allowed?

  5. As a manufacture of a different scooter Luggie we also are powered by a lithium ion battery which is 220 watts and only 16 ELC which meets all DOT standards. Both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are working on understanding the regulations but are slow to implement.

    The scare concerning lithium battery comes from a different type which is metal lithium battery which does catch fire due to heat. The newer designs are not metal but a polymer.

    I do believe if you talk with the right people at the airlines , have your documents concerning the battery the airlines will better understand these are safe. A place full of laptops is greater than 1 or 2 scooter batteries.

    Please lobby the airlines, ADA, FAA , TSA, DOT and everyone involved. Let's educate !

    Jeffrey Davis BSMET
    Luggie Scooters Inc

  6. I was able to fly with my 24 gram LiO battery on Southwest, but was not able to slip it into my carry on backpack. They insisted it stay on the travelsccot in the cargo hold. This was dangerous according to FAA and I had a printed copy of the FAA regulations with me and showed it to them. (1) some decision maker, said it had to be in a hard case to be in the cabin (of course it is in a hard case) but they have no understanding of battery technology (2) I was told the plane captain had the ultimate call no matter what the FAA regulations say. Maybe using the LiFEPo4 will help, but will be years before FAA catches up. The airlines don't know that the little 24 gram LiO battery is just a laptop battery and to my knowledge only one little laptop battery has every caught fire and that was at a meeting where the laptop was on for a long time and got hot. FAA says in the cabin they are prepared to put out small fires but not the cargo hold and that is why they say carry it in the cabin and not in the cargo hold.
    Even if it does catch fire, a very low probability, it will be a small fire. I did write the SWA CEO (no response) and SWA customer service (response also revealed no understanding). If FAA comes out with new regulations, we need to comment on the regulation and somehow get the FAA and the airlines on the same page.

  7. I traveled 66 times last year on Delta airlines, and only once did a ramp agent come into the plane after loading my scooter into the cargo hold. I take the battery into the plane with me. He questioned me on the battery and wanted to look at it. When I said it was a lithium battery with 24 grams, and the FAA allows up to 25, his response, was "well I see you did your homework" so he didn't bother me to actually see the battery.