Battery Equivalents and Replacements

Can You Bring an Electric Scooter on a Plane

Electric scooters have surged in popularity as a convenient, eco-friendly alternative for short commutes and city travel. Their portability and ease of use appeal to urban dwellers and travelers alike, allowing for an efficient means to navigate congested streets and tight spaces.

With the increasing adoption of electric scooters, many users are now facing the question of whether they can bring their scooters along on flights, particularly within commercial passenger planes.

Published: April 24, 2024.

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Quick Answer: No, generally you cannot bring an electric scooter on a plane. But, this limit is imposed due to the size (must be less than 100/160Wh) and the nature of lithium batteries, not electric scooters themselves. And now, a little bit longer answer ...

Understanding FAA Regulations

Traveling with electric scooters involves understanding and adhering to specific regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA classifies electric scooters as battery-powered devices, which means they fall under the guidelines that govern the transportation of all electronic devices on aircraft. These guidelines are primarily concerned with the batteries that power such devices.

The FAA requires that all personal electronic devices with batteries must be carried in carry-on baggage, or the batteries themselves must be removed and carried in the cabin, ensuring that they are protected from damage and short-circuiting.

Lithium Battery Regulations

The heart of most electric scooters is a lithium battery, which poses specific risks in terms of fire hazards.

As a result, the FAA has stringent regulations regarding lithium batteries on airplanes. Batteries in electric scooters typically exceed the standard watt-hour limit set for lithium batteries allowed in passenger cabins.

For lithium-ion batteries, the limit is generally 100 watt-hours (Wh) per battery, with a provision that allows up to two additional batteries of up to 160 Wh with airline approval.

These limits are in place due to safety concerns; lithium batteries can overheat and catch fire if damaged, improperly charged, or exposed to high temperatures.

This potential for thermal runaway - a condition in which an increase in temperature causes progressively hotter temperatures - is why the transportation of larger lithium batteries is closely regulated.

Airlines and regulatory bodies are particularly cautious, requiring that such devices be turned off, protected from accidental activation, and packed to prevent crushing or puncture.

Preparing Your Electric Scooter for Air Travel

Taking your electric scooter on a plane requires careful preparation to ensure it meets airline regulations and is safe to travel with. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you prepare your scooter for flight:

  • Consult Your Airline’s Regulations: Before packing, check your airline's specific policies regarding electric scooters and lithium batteries.
  • Battery Removal: Remove the battery from the scooter if possible. This is essential as most airlines require lithium batteries to be carried in the cabin to avoid risk in the cargo hold.
  • Charge the Battery Properly: Ensure the battery is charged enough to be turned on if required for inspection but not fully charged. Typically, airlines prefer batteries to be at 30% charge or less.
  • Secure the Battery: Place the battery in a protective case or original packaging to prevent short circuits. Use battery terminal protectors if available.
  • Disassemble the Scooter: If your scooter can be disassembled, break it down to its smallest form. This might involve folding the scooter or removing parts like handlebars.
  • Packing the Scooter: Use a hard-shell case specifically designed for scooters or a sturdy suitcase. Cushion the scooter with foam or bubble wrap to prevent movement and absorb shocks.
  • Label Your Package: Clearly label the package as containing a lithium battery if the battery is packed separately within your carry-on.

Note: Every airline has the right to decline any type of luggage that they believe is hazardous to the plane and passengers, especially with the market flooded with cheap lithium batteries...

Airline Policies on Electric Scooters

Policies on traveling with electric scooters can vary significantly from one airline to another. Here are some steps to help you navigate these differences:

  • Check the Airline’s Website: Start by visiting the airline’s official website and search for their baggage policy section.
  • Contact Customer Service: If the information online isn’t clear, call the airline’s customer service for clarification on electric scooters.
  • Compare Policies: Some airlines might allow the scooter as checked baggage, while others might only accept the battery onboard with the scooter checked. Note differences in fees and handling procedures.

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Checking In Your Electric Scooter

Once at the airport, checking in your electric scooter involves a few additional steps and considerations:

  • Inform the Check-In Agent: Let the agent know that you are traveling with an electric scooter and a detached lithium battery.
  • Security Screening: Be prepared to have both your scooter and its battery inspected. The battery might need to be verified and screened separately.
  • Paying Extra Fees: Some airlines may charge additional fees for checking in an electric scooter or for handling a detached battery. Be prepared to pay these fees at check-in.
  • Documentation: Have all necessary documentation handy, such as proof of battery specifications and the scooter’s manual, in case airline staff need to verify that it complies with air travel regulations.

Carry-On vs. Checked Luggage

Deciding whether to carry on or check your electric scooter and its battery involves understanding airline and FAA regulations, as well as considering the safest way to transport your equipment.

Carrying on the Lithium Battery:

  • Regulations: As a general rule, lithium batteries must be carried in the passenger cabin because of their fire risk. Batteries that are 100 watt-hours or less can usually be carried without special permission, while those between 100 and 160 watt-hours may require airline approval.
  • Safety Guidelines: Pack the battery in your carry-on luggage in a protective case. Cover the terminals with tape or a battery terminal protector to prevent short circuits. Avoid packing the battery near metallic objects.

Checking the Scooter:

  • Feasibility: If the battery is removable, the scooter frame can be checked in, assuming it complies with the airline’s size and weight restrictions for checked luggage.
  • Packing Tips: Use a hard-shell case that fits the scooter snugly to prevent damage during handling. Consider adding a tracking device to the case in case it gets lost.

Security Screening Procedures

Understanding the security screening process can help you prepare better and expedite your passage through airport security.

  • Preparation: Have your scooter and battery accessible for screening. This means not buried under other items in your bag.
  • Battery Inspection: Security personnel may ask to inspect the battery separately. Be prepared to remove it from its case and show any certification labels that indicate its compliance with safety standards.
  • Scooter Inspection: If you’ve checked the scooter, it will be screened with other checked luggage. If you’re carrying it on, you may need to unfold it or disassemble it slightly for X-ray screening or physical inspection.
  • Communication: Clearly communicate with the security staff about your items. If they are aware that you are carrying a lithium battery and a scooter, they can handle the inspection smoothly.

Tips for a Smooth Journey

Traveling with an electric scooter requires some extra preparation and patience. Here are practical tips to ensure a hassle-free experience:

  • Early Arrival: Arrive at the airport earlier than usual to allow extra time for the check-in and security processes.
  • Documentation: Keep all relevant documentation handy, including the scooter’s manual and any correspondence with the airline that approves the transport of your battery.
  • Battery Charge: Keep your battery charged enough to demonstrate that the scooter turns on, but not fully charged as recommended by most airlines.
  • Check Airline Updates: Airline policies regarding lithium batteries and electric scooters can change. Check for any updates close to your departure date.
  • Use Protective Cases: Always use protective cases for both the scooter and the battery to protect them from damage during transport.
  • Plan for Delays: Be prepared for possible delays at security or check-in due to your special items. Remaining patient and cooperative can help speed up the process.

Arriving at Your Destination

Once you've reached your destination, there are a few steps you should take to ensure that your electric scooter is ready for use in your new location.

Collecting Your Scooter:

  • Baggage Claim: If you checked your scooter, head to the baggage claim area. Inspect it as soon as you receive it to check for any possible damage during transit.
  • Battery Reattachment: If you carried the battery with you in the cabin, reattach it to your scooter once you have collected the rest of it.

Reassembling Your Scooter:

  • Assembly: If you disassembled your scooter for the flight, follow your manufacturer’s instructions to reassemble it.
  • Check Functionality: Turn on your scooter to ensure everything is functioning correctly. This is particularly important if the scooter or its battery was handled during security checks.

Using Your Scooter in a New City or Country:

  • Local Laws and Regulations: Check the local laws regarding electric scooters. Some places have specific rules about where you can ride, speeds, and necessary safety gear.
  • Safety Gear: Always use recommended safety gear such as helmets, especially in a new area where you are unfamiliar with the traffic patterns and road conditions.
  • Battery Charging: Find out what type of outlets are used in your destination for charging your scooter’s battery, and ensure you have the appropriate adapter.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I bring my electric scooter on any airline?

Policies vary by airline. Always check with your specific airline before traveling.

What if my electric scooter’s battery exceeds 160 watt-hours?

Batteries over 160 watt-hours generally cannot be brought onto commercial flights. You may need to ship the battery separately or rent a scooter at your destination.

Note: most electric scooters do have batteries larger than 160Wh.

How do I ensure my scooter won’t be damaged during the flight?

Use a hard-shell case for the frame and a protective case for the battery. Consider adding additional padding and marking the case as fragile.

Are there any specific airports that are more accommodating to traveling with electric scooters?

While airport policies largely reflect FAA regulations, larger airports may be more familiar with handling such items. Always communicate clearly with airport staff about your needs.

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Few Final Words

Traveling with an electric scooter on a plane involves careful preparation and understanding of both airline and FAA regulations.

Always stay updated on the latest regulations and prepare for contingencies such as possible delays or damage.

With the right preparation, your electric scooter can join you on many adventures across cities and countries, providing a convenient and environmentally friendly way to explore new destinations.

Personally, since most electric scooters have batteries larger than 100/160Wh, they cannot be brought on planes. If you really like electric scooters, after traveling to your destination, rent one - many airports and towns/cities have electric scooter rental services with an option of collecting electric scooters within a certain radius (thanks to the GPS trackers).

Whatever you choose, safety first!