Travel Tip: power banks cannot travel in checked in luggage or they will be confiscated!
You’d think I’d have learned my lesson the first time my lithium battery power bank was confiscated from my luggage en route to Nepal, but no.
I think I put it down to that particular airline (China Southern) and the fact that my bag was also traveling unaccompanied for part of the trip as it had missed connecting with me at Guangzhou through to Kathmandu. But when I finally got my bag three days later and opened it there was a printed note placed on top of my clothes from the airline security explaining that my battery had been removed. Helpfully they had left the bag and the cable.
Hurrumph, I thought (in a most Enid Blyton way), and just had to remember take my phone charger and my adapter plug with me everywhere in Pokhara lest I run out of juice and be unable to take photos. I had forgotten my camera on that trip and was fully reliant on my iPhone for all photography, video and communication.
(Incidentally after taking only my iPhone 6 on this trip as a camera, including sight-seeing flight over Mt Everest, I now don’t travel with a camera any more. You can read my post here about How to take Great Photos with your iPhone >>)
But a few months later when Air New Zealand confiscated another power bank from my suitcase and left another note from security explaining what had happened, I thought I should let you know lest you lose one too!
You can still travel with a power bank, but you need to take it in your carry on luggage. And you can only travel with lithium batteries sized up to 100 watt hours (Wh), without airline approval. Most power banks fall into this category, but some big ones will need approval.
This also applies to my USB charged hair straighteners as they too have a lithium battery. I have got away with that in my luggage before, but twice in Italy my bag was pulled aside and I was asked to remove them into my cabin bag.
Why can’t you pack a power bank in your luggage?
I like to know the reasons too, rather than just read another rule!
So the reason for not allowing lithium-ion batteries in the hold of the plane is because some are made of cathode and anode, or oxidiser and fuel, which has a slim chance of igniting/exploding.
If that happens in the hold, no one will know and the results would be catastrophic. If it happened in the cabin, the fire could be put out very quickly and likely not much damage will have occurred. The chances are slim of this happening, but because it’s a risk, all batteries are covered by this blanket rule and as luggage is scanned before being loaded on to the plane, this is another reason why a TSA lock is important so they can remove the item without buggering up your padlock.
And here’s a tip: your device will charge much faster and you’ll get more charges out of your power bank the shorter the cable.