Traveling on plane in US with lots of electronics/batteries

I am traveling to Texas tomorrow and will be there until Saturday. I am attending an educator’s conference and will be giving a talk on how to use iNaturalist in the classroom! Besides attending the conference, I’m bringing plenty of my bioblitz gear and stuffed it all into a small bag (Spirit Airlines personal size).

Each individual thing seems to be okay according to what I read online and I think I might be fine but I am just wondering if anyone has travelled carrying a similar array of electronics/batteries on the flight in one carry on or personal bag.

Here are the batteries I am bringing:
-2 37Wh 3.7V USB battery packs (to power a couple DJ blacklights I am bringing)
-Nikon DSLR camera with 3 Lithium Ion batteries (1 in the camera and 2 separate)
-External flash with 4 AA batteries installed (would 4 extras be okay or would that be pushing it?)
-flashlight with 18Wh Li-on battery installed

I am also bringing an amazon fire tablet and two phones so if you add it all up I am going to have lots of electronics/batteries… it’s been a while since I fly so I figured it would be a good idea to ask before I head off to the airport with all these gadgets!

Thanks in advance,
Joe

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I regularly fly both domestically and internationally with more batteries and electronics than that and have never had a problem. US airport security seems to be mostly focused on liquids and all of the times I’ve had my bags treated to extra security screening was due to having lots of liquids.

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Hey Joe,

I’m no professional, and am not sure what the “right” way to do it is, but here’s what I do just in case:

  • Put each battery is a seperate ziplock bag, each seperately labeled.
  • Pack camera & camera gear tightly and comfortably all in the same carry-on.
  • Tell TSA employee that I’m carrying camera gear as they scan luggage.

Other than that, I’m no help on what to bring or how many, so I’m sure more knowledgeable people will answer your questions. I’ve also had no problems with airport security or flying with my camera gear, they’re more focused on substances and liquids.

Have fun in Texas!!

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Hi Joe,

I can’t comment much on your specific gear, but I have some general observations after flying numerous times with fairly significant equipment packages for video/photo work. I usually pack (sometimes multiple) pelican 1510 ‘carry-on’ cases. I pack them fastidiously in the event the airline requests to check the case at the last minute. TSA seems to be very familiar with camera equipment in general. They usually have complete indifference to my pelican cases loaded with camera bodies, lenses, batteries, media etc. They’ve only inspected my camera gear a few times in 10+ years. I think there’s simply too many items to process in a given day for them to be too precious about it. The only items I’ve ever had an issue with are tools! TSA definitely has a couple pairs of my pliers & screwdrivers…yet never questioned lithium batteries. Safe travels and have fun at the conference and biologizing!

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I’ve never had issues with batteries/electronics when going through airport security. I do carry on all my Li-ion batteries, for sure, and don’t put them in checked bags.

Every time I pack for a trip, I realize I’m basically just a vessel for transporting batteries and chargers.

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In my experience, there should be no issues on the US side. You’ve got to take off your shoes and take the laptop out of the bag to go through the security scanner, the usual stuff. Coming back from Europe, I always have to count in some extra time for security at German airports though. They don’t make you take off your shoes, but all electronics have to undergo some sort of explosives test, which on my last flight included camera and pretty much everything else with a battery. Speaking of which, I’ve also had checks where I actually had to power everything on to show that it was working as intended, so make sure all batteries are charged. That adds some time at checkpoints. But if you’re just flying within the US, I think that’s unlikely to happen to you.

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I really appreciate all the replies! I feel a lot more at ease now. I love the way @tiwane described himself as a vessel for transporting batteries and chargers… sounds like a familiar feeling when I go camping. @annkatrinrose that sounds intense and I will keep it in mind for any trips to Europe in the future. Thanks also @zygy @gatorhawk and @alex_shure! Can’t wait to bioblitz outside my home area… it’s been a while!

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Interesting, here they check only laptops for bombs with their apparatus of some kind (my laptop can’t turn on without the plug), but never cameras, though I find my backpack with two of them and bunch of batteries and chargers pretty suspicious.

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I regularly fly into Texas from south america, usually with an absurd amount of batteries, two phones, a tablet, 2 laptops, an audio kit, at least 2 DSLRs.

Keep the terminals of LI batteries covered with electrical tape and organized, all batteries need to be in your carry on. Never done it really, but labeling is a smart idea.

again, my best advice, keep it organized and be friendly to the to your TSA agent and you should be in good shape.

what part of Texas?

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Travelers in the states are still forced to take their shoes off because of some dumbs*** who attempted to use a shoebomb… 22 years ago.

USA is the very talented when it comes to implementing pointless, arbitrary regulations with little to zeo reasoning based in fact.

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I will be staying in Grapevine, which is close to Dallas!

Que chevere!

Wear a mask! :]

It’s too late to do this for your trip this week, but I highly recommend signing up for TSA pre check. Not only do you not have to open your bags or take out your electronics but you can keep your shoes and belt on. Lasts for 5 years.

I did have TSA ask in Texas why I had sulfur on my shoes. Best way to keep chiggers from eating you alive.

We’re taking shoes of if there’s a big platform, but with regular one we don’t, I thought more about possibility of putting drugs there honestly as a reason to check them.

Just make sure that all the batteries have info on them of their capacities and such, and make sure that they are all in your carry-on luggage.

I regularly fly, mainly internationally, with more batteries than that and the only time it was a problem was with an older rechargeable unit that didn’t have the capacity information on it.

Some airlines have a maximum capacity allowance for each individual battery as well, but yours should all be well below that.

There has to be warehouses full of nail clippers, pocket knives, and travel gadgets out there (not to mention little shampoo bottles).

If like me, you’ve grown a little dependent on this stuff, you know that twinge of dismay each time you prep yourself to leave home for a flight. In Canada, it’s the same for domestic flights too.

I think I heard a podcast once about what actually happens to this stuff. If I recall, it’s sold off in volume and what isn’t sold off or deemed recyclable is landfill. I can’t imagine the impact that these measures have made on the manufacturer’s of a lot of these items.

Sometimes when I’m watching really old films from the 50s or 60s and there’s an airport scene, I just marvel at the whole ease, speed and convenience in which a character just steps up to a counter, buys a ticket and moments later lines up to get on board.

As my dad used to say, “This is why we can’t have nice things anymore.”

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Don’t quote me on this, but my impression last time I looked this up was that it only really matters if the batteries are over a certain (fairly large) capacity, roughly laptop-sized and up. I’ve never had issues with camera batteries, cell phones, etc., and when I’ve occasionally tried to look up whether I would have any problem, I’ve always concluded that it should be okay.

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Some batteries shouldn’t be in the hold of a plane, as the pressure changes can cause them to burst. Given that, they WANT you to carry your batteries in your bags.

TSA in the US works off of arbitrary rules that honestly do very little to prevent anything. They let people bring laptops on, after all, and someone real determined could jury-rig a laptop into a nasty bomb that would bypass security immediately. TSA mostly focuses on liquids and sharp objects, not batteries, because batteries are kinda needed for laptops and keeping laptops off planes would cause them a lot of trouble.

Not really relevant, but mildly interesting: you can bring more than 3oz of liquid onto a plane, if a live fish is inside. Liquid holding a live fish is, after all, obviously water.

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I think it depends on the airport. Many people bring potentially more dangerous items on planes with no issues. Then other people will get swabbed for explosives for bringing a guitar with them. (it’s me, my only experience at an airport, 5 guys followed me around talking into their mics about how i’m a probable “jihadi”)

Former TSA officer here. All those electronics are fine with TSA in your carry on, but they may cause excessive clutter in the bag that the xray could potentially have troubles seeing through. I would inform the officer who is giving preparation instructions, not the person who checks your ticket but the officer after that, of your situation and depending on the technology (brand/type of x-ray) they may ask you to remove them from the bag, so pack them towards the top. Also depending on the technology used, it may be mandatory that any electronic larger than a cell phone be removed anyway but they will tell you this. This is only for TSA though, I can not speak for the airlines but you should be fine

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