International flights with large lipo packs

Discussion in 'CineStar FAQ - Tips and Tricks' started by Jack Wrangham, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. Jack Wrangham

    Jack Wrangham Member

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    Hi Everyone

    So i'm currently preparing for a trip with all the kit, and after doing some research it seems it has become a lot more difficult to take lipo packs on flights. From what I can tell i'll only be allowed to take 2x 5s 11ah (210wh) packs with me in hand luggage, which isn't enough! I'm wondering if anyone has had recent experience with this? Can you get away with more? Or is there an alternative way?

    Also i'm about to begin filing for an ATA Carnet for all the kit, as I believe this should make customs a little easier - although its a lot of hassle, not sure I need too. So again anyone with any experience in this would be a great help!

    Thanks

    Jack
     
  2. Steve Maller

    Steve Maller UAV Grief Counselor

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    You should look into shipping your LiPo packs separately via FedEx or similar, at least on the outbound leg. It'd be awkward to show up with no power at a gig. The experiences of members here seem to be all over the map, but I don't recall any stories of folks' LiPo packs being denied or confiscated.
     
  3. Brad Meier

    Brad Meier Active Member
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    There are some guidelines here for those stateside. http://airsafe.com/issues/baggage/batteries.htm

    Basically anything under 100 watt hours is good to go. The larger you can only take 2. If you are traveling with more than just yourself you could get a few more through. I travel with 8 6600 packs rated at 97 watt hr. They always swab the case for explosives etc.

    I will say TSA is not looking at the capacities.
     
  4. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    Can someone double check my logic here, please?

    I just looked at:
    http://safetravel.dot.gov/definitions.html

    My understanding is that you're not allowed to take Lithium batteries on board that have more than 25 grams Equivalent Lithium Content (ELC). To derive the ELC for a battery you can use this formula:

    ELC = Capacity_in_mAh / 1000 * Storage_voltage / 12.5
    Simplifying that down:
    ELC = Capacity_in_mAh * Storage_voltage / 12500

    So for a QC9000
    ELC = 9000 * 14.8 / 12500
    ELC = 10.656 grams

    (Oh, and by the way, you cannot take LiPo battery with a capacity of greater than 20,000 mAh -- should they be made!)

    Thus, these are classified as "Larger Lithium Batteries."

    See http://safetravel.dot.gov/whats_new_batteries.html
    The flight batteries will be classified as "Spare Batteries" as they're not installed in equipment.
    You may not pack "Spare Batteries" in your checked baggage, but you can have them in carry-on baggage.
    For "personal use" there is "generally no restriction on the number of spare batteries."

    http://safetravel.dot.gov/larger_batt.html
    "You are allowed one larger lithium battery installed in a device plus 2 spare larger lithium batteries."
    (This conveniently contradicts the "personal use" statement above.)

    Hope this helps.

    Andy.
     
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  5. Gary Haynes

    Gary Haynes Administrator
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    Andy good information. Of course that helps in the US as Brad points out. But you might have trouble getting home or on a connecting flight in another country. As Steve says FEDEX is probably a safer/more reliable way to ship. And if it is paying gig just factor in the cost of shipping your equipment in the quote. Pretty standard for photographers on commercial shoots. I would assume the same when someone is building a film budget.

    All it takes is an agent who doesn't know the rules and while you try to explain the flight is leaving. And the agent always 'wins' would be a safe bet.
     
  6. Jack Wrangham

    Jack Wrangham Member

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    Thanks guys, I think what i'll do is take two batteries with me and fedex the rest - seems like the best solution!
     
  7. Jose Luis Ocejo

    Jose Luis Ocejo Active Member

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    I done some domestic and international flights in the US hardly any problems may ask some questions, on international travel like Mexico and central America they check more, what I found that helps is have a good rehearse explanation of what the batteries are for, have pictures to show of the copter, preferably with the batteries on it, show if you can a video of the copter flying they love that "wow Sr thats cool" cover all of the terminals with electrical tape, anticipate more time to catch your flight in case you have to go trough different layers of authorities
    it would be nice to know how difficult or easy to travel with Lipos are regions like South America, Europe and Asia
    Any one
     
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  8. Ryan J. Rowe

    Ryan J. Rowe Member

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    Also for the checked copter luggage, not a bad idea to have a note with pictures of bird assembled that explains what is inside the box and what it looks like assembled. Place the note right on top so it's the first thing that is seen when the case is opened. Never hurts to throw in a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup on top of the note for the TSA and offer it to him in the note after thanking him for his trouble. ;) Better chance that they won't mangle the contents just to see what it is....
     
  9. Tyler Olson

    Tyler Olson Member

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    Thanks for the info here guys.

    I'm planning on flying with my copter soon and have 5s batteries with 8000 mAh .. am I understanding this correctly that these CANNOT be put in my checked luggage and must be put in my hand baggage and I'm only allowed 2 of these batteries?

    I've heard of people checking their batteries underneath, which would be nice as you wouldn't be questioned at every security gate (I have a few transfers on the flight). Some of the transfers on the flight are only 1 hr long so I don't have time to sit at a check point waiting for them to approve my batteries. I may just send them all via fedex or post...
     
  10. Brad Meier

    Brad Meier Active Member
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    Yes, technically only 2 and carry on only. It seems domestic flights don't know the capacity rules very well so I'm sure you could bring more than 2 without much hassle. Checking batteries is not allowed... And for good reason. Would you want to ride on a flight after your batteries are possibly left baking in the sun for hours or dropped multiple times? Don't forget, these guys throw bags all day long.. Fragile means nothing. Carry on or ship if you have doubts. Never check.
     
  11. Duane Bradley

    Duane Bradley Active Member

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    Ryan, are you suggesting that the TSA can be bribed? ;)
     
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  12. Tyler Olson

    Tyler Olson Member

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    thanks for the thoughts Brad. Sound advice. I guess I'll just mail all the batteries.
     
  13. Scott Stemm

    Scott Stemm Member

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    So if I understand this correctly I can carry as many 5000mah as I want (5.92 grams) in carry on and two attached to the electronics unit (not hooked up) in checked baggage?
     

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  14. Kim Hoogervorst

    Kim Hoogervorst New Member

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    Interesting topic, been asked to go to suriname, laos and some places in europe. Probably it's best to order or sent batteries at the location. I'll take some on me on the plane as well to see how europe is dealing with large lipo quantities. I'll share info here later...

    Keep em flying!
     
  15. Sebastian Meredith

    Sebastian Meredith Active Member

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    Photos and videos on an iPad or other tablet goes a long way to shorten the explanation that they are for my remote control "helicopter". Multirotor, drone and octocopter short circuits the mind of a security check poin official.
     
  16. Bryan Harvey

    Bryan Harvey Member

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    I hand carried 16 x 8000mah lipo packs plus about 6 2500mah packs no problem through multiple airlines and countries on a recent shoot to Vanuatu from USA via Australia. Agents were all smiles, super-friendly. Quantas security even sent word ahead about all my batteries and smoothed things for connecting flights.

    Return home I decided to lighten my load and DHL ship the batteries home from Vanuatu. I cleared it all with DHL agents on the ground, went over the batteries visually with them, (all packed in firebags), and they gave the OK. But it was not OK....

    Long story short, I did not get my batteries back for 6 weeks. Many phone calls, emails, my production company had to apply for a dangerous goods shipping permit through DHL, then batts still got stuck in customs in LA, blah, blah....nightmare.

    Kinda weird since DHL always ships all the exact same batteries from Hobby King (Hong Kong) to the US.
     
  17. Paul conto

    Paul conto Member

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    Its not an international flight but last year in the US i traveled with 2x4S7800, 2X4S4400, 2x3S4400, 2x3S5000, 4x2S5000. All in mt transmitter box and all they did was take them all out, swab them all for explosives, because of job i HAVE had the detectors go off which SUCKS!!, and then put them back in the box. No questions at all about power or anything, just asking why.
     
  18. Michael Braun

    Michael Braun Member

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    I was not allowed to take any Lipos in my checked baggage with Emirates.

    With Easyjet was the same story. I could only take 2x 5800 as carry-on.

    How do you guys manage to take that much lipos without any problems? :(
     
  19. Paul conto

    Paul conto Member

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    Checked baggage was your problem, they have to be in your carry on.
     
  20. Michael Braun

    Michael Braun Member

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    But they also limited carry-on to 2x 6S5800
     

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