Flying with Power: Can You Bring Portable Chargers on a Plane?

Flying with Power: Can You Bring Portable Chargers on a Plane?

As the world becomes increasingly digital, our reliance on electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets continues to grow. Yet, whether you’re traveling for business or leisure, keeping these devices powered can be a challenge. That’s where portable chargers come in, offering a handy solution to keep our devices charged on the go. But, can you bring portable chargers on a plane? Let’s find out.

Key Takeaways

  • Portable chargers can be brought on planes, adhering to strict watt-hour (Wh) restrictions set by airlines and the FAA, with most allowing under 100Wh without special approval and up to 160Wh with airline consent.
  • Lithium-ion batteries in portable chargers must be carried in carry-on luggage due to their potential to cause fires or explosions, ensuring they can be monitored and managed more effectively during the flight.
  • Charging devices with portable chargers is generally allowed during flights, though there may be restrictions during takeoff and landing to prevent interference with aircraft communication and navigation systems.

Navigating Airline Policies on Portable Chargers

A person holding a portable charger while looking at an airline policy document

Navigating the myriad of regulations surrounding portable chargers in air travel can feel like a daunting task. While you can bring portable chargers on a plane, you must comply with specific guidelines. Airlines have their own policies regarding portable chargers, with some allowing them with certain limitations, such as capacity restrictions.

The most current information on airline policies regarding portable chargers can be found on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) websites. These websites provide current regulations to help in confirming your portable charger’s compliance. However, certain airlines may have specific policies. For instance, Hawaiian Airlines only allows portable chargers in your carry-on baggage if their capacity is under 100Wh.

Understanding Watt-Hour Restrictions

In the realm of air travel, watt-hour (Wh) restrictions significantly impact the use of portable chargers. But what exactly does this mean? Watt-hours can be calculated using the formula Wh = (mAh * V) / 1000 where mAh represents the battery capacity in milliampere-hours and V represents the voltage.

The standard watt-hour limitations for portable chargers when traveling on airplanes are typically less than 100 watt-hours (Wh) for compatible devices like:

  • laptops
  • smartphones
  • tablets
  • headphones

However, with airline approval, you can bring battery packs or portable chargers with a capacity of up to 160 watt-hours (Wh) onto a plane. Hence, reviewing the airline’s specific rules on lithium-ion batteries, along with size and capacity limitations of power banks, is crucial for regulatory compliance.

Lithium Ion Batteries and Air Travel Safety

Safety concerns arise due to the potential of lithium-ion batteries, found in portable chargers, to cause mid-flight fires or explosions as a result of their flammable or hazardous elements. Consequently, power banks or any items containing rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, including spare lithium ion batteries, must be stored in carry-on luggage. This allows for closer monitoring of potentially explosive devices and enables prompt response to any incidents.

Although the probability is low, there is a possibility of a significant event, such as a fire, similar to the UPS plane crash at Dubai International Airport in 2010, which was caused by a shipment of lithium batteries. Hence, the strict rules around carrying power banks in your carry-on luggage.

Airline Approval for High-Capacity Power Banks

Airline approval may allow you to bring high-capacity power banks, those exceeding 100 watt-hours (Wh), on a plane. However, it’s important to remember that carry-on power banks should not surpass 100 watt-hours (Wh), equivalent to a 27,000mAh capacity. Additionally, power banks that house a lithium-ion battery are required to be stowed in carry-on luggage.

While numerous airlines permit the carriage of high-capacity power banks, usually with a maximum capacity of up to 27,000mAh (100Wh), explicit approval from the airline is necessary for power banks exceeding this limit and up to 160Wh. Verifying the rules and requirements of each airline is therefore critical.

The Essentials of Packing Portable Chargers

Various portable chargers neatly organized in a carry-on bag

After successfully understanding the rules and regulations, you can proceed to pack your portable charger. Here are some tips:

  1. Place the portable charger in your carry-on bag.
  2. Ensure that it’s easily accessible for security checks and use during the flight.
  3. If you’re carrying multiple power banks, remember to store each one in a secure protective case or their original packaging.
  4. Make sure they are placed within the carry-on baggage and away from extreme temperatures.

When transporting multiple power banks, it is advisable to:

  • Store each one in a secure protective case or their original packaging
  • Place them within the carry-on baggage and away from extreme temperatures
  • Use a power bank organizer for maintaining the security and accessibility of multiple devices.

Safe Storage for Your Power Bank

Safe storage is vital when traveling with your power bank. It is recommended that you store your power bank in your carry-on luggage and avoid placing it in checked luggage. To protect your power bank, consider using a protective case. A few popular options include the Anlizn Battery Storage Organizer Case and Tester, the Ontel Battery Daddy Storage Case, and the Comecase Battery Storage Box.

Temperature also plays a vital role in the storage of power banks. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Charging power banks in sub-zero temperatures may lead to damage, whereas discharging them below 0°C typically does not pose a problem.
  • Storing power banks in a cool, dry place is essential.
  • Ensure that the power bank is stored away from heat sources, moisture, dust, and magnetic objects.
  • Avoid placing it near credit cards or other electronic devices.

Multiple Power Banks and Airline Limits

As a power user or if you carry multiple devices, you might consider the possibility of bringing multiple power banks on a plane. Yes, it is permissible to bring multiple power banks on an aircraft, provided that you comply with the limits set by the airline and carry them in your carry-on luggage or on your person.

The quantity of power banks permissible for carriage is typically restricted to a rating of 100 watt hours (Wh) per battery. With prior airline approval, it may be possible to bring two larger spare batteries up to 160 Wh each. However, certain airlines, like Ryanair, have stricter regulations and may impose a limit on the capacity of power banks to 100 Wh or 27000 mAh, and require them to be carried in carry-on baggage.

When transporting several power banks, it is advisable to store each one in a secure protective case or their original packaging, ensuring they are placed within the carry-on baggage and away from extreme temperatures.

Charging Devices Mid-Flight: What's Allowed?

A person charging their smartphone mid-flight using a portable charger

Having understood the regulations and packed your power bank, you are now ready to fly. Can you charge your devices mid-flight? The answer is yes, it is generally permissible to charge a phone while on an aircraft. Only 16% of international flights in economy class offer power outlets, which limits the ability for passengers to charge their devices while traveling. That’s where your portable charger comes in handy.

Convenience aside, certain restrictions apply to mid-flight charging, especially during takeoff and landing. Most airlines mandate that electronic devices, including portable chargers, must be switched off and securely stowed during these phases. The regulations are implemented to mitigate the potential interference with the aircraft’s communication and navigation systems, as well as to ensure that passengers are alert and ready to respond to any emergency situations during these crucial phases of flight.

Can You Charge Your Phone or Laptop In-Flight?

Charging your phone or laptop during a flight has become significantly easier with in-flight charging options. Airlines such as United and Southwest Airlines offer in-flight charging options for phones and laptops. Most airplanes provide power outlets or USB charging ports in specific seating areas, enabling passengers to utilize an external battery pack during the flight for charging their devices without any limitations.

In-seat power systems on airplanes are engineered to provide electrical power to passenger seats, including USB C power delivery. They operate by detecting voltage sagging on the outlet to accommodate various devices, providing both AC and DC power outputs to ensure compatibility with a wide range of electronic devices. However, passengers are expected to bring their own charging cables when flying.

While some airlines may offer USB ports for in-flight charging, they generally do not provide charging cables for passenger use.

Usage Restrictions During Takeoff and Landing

While it’s great to keep your devices charged mid-flight, it’s important to know when you can and can’t use your portable charger. During takeoff and landing, most airlines mandate that electronic devices, including portable chargers, must be switched off and securely stowed. The regulations regarding the powering off of electronics during these phases are implemented to mitigate the potential interference with the aircraft’s communication and navigation systems, as well as to ensure that passengers are alert and ready to respond to any emergency situations during these crucial phases of flight.

However, there is some good news. Portable chargers may be utilized during takeoff and landing if they are stored in carry-on bags. This is in line with the regulations of airlines, which permit the use of such devices in carry-on luggage, provided they meet the required safety standards.

Selecting the Right Portable Charger for Your Journey

Person comparing different portable chargers to select the right one for their journey

With a clear understanding of the rules and regulations pertaining to portable chargers in air travel, it’s time to choose the right portable charger for your journey. This involves considering factors such as the type of device, screen size, and other device-specific considerations. The battery capacities of popular portable chargers in the market range from 2,000 mAh to 32,000 mAh.

When considering a portable charger for travel, it is crucial to prioritize features such as:

  • Built-in cables
  • A high mAh number
  • Passthrough charging
  • Built-in AC prongs
  • Additional USB ports

For example, the iWALK TANKER power bank is capable of delivering high-speed charging for a maximum of three devices concurrently, which could include 2 phones and 1 laptop.

It is important to select a portable charger with an appropriate capacity to meet your power requirements, ensuring compatibility and effectiveness.

Assessing Battery Capacity Needs

Understanding your battery capacity needs is essential when selecting the right portable charger. This depends on factors such as the type of device, screen size, and other device-specific considerations. A portable battery with the appropriate capacity will ensure your device stays charged and ready to use.

To determine the required battery capacity for your travel duration, one can calculate by multiplying the average or nominal battery voltage by the battery capacity in amp-hours to estimate the watt-hours the battery can deliver. For example, a 4,400 mAh 11.1 volt battery converts to 48.84Wh.

Assess how many times you’d like to recharge your device and ensure the chosen portable charger has enough capacity to meet your needs.

Features to Look For in a Portable Charger

When choosing a portable charger, it’s not just about the capacity. There are many features that can make your charging experience more convenient and efficient. Some key features to consider when choosing a portable charger for travel are:

  • LED indicator lights
  • Capacity (mAh rating)
  • Charging speed
  • Portability

Fast charging, for example, operates through a blend of hardware and software, exemplified by OnePlus Warp Charge technology, which involves the use of a high-amperage charger and a specialized cable to rapidly deliver higher power output to the battery.

Finally, the size and weight of a portable charger are also important considerations for travelers. A lighter and more compact charger is more favorable for travel purposes.

Troubleshooting Common Portable Charger Issues While Traveling

Security personnel inspecting a portable charger at an airport checkpoint

Despite diligent preparations, things can sometimes go awry. Portable chargers, like any electronic device, can sometimes malfunction. But don’t worry, there are ways to troubleshoot these issues. If your portable charger malfunctions during a flight, it is advisable to promptly notify the cabin crew.

It’s also important to note that you may be asked to present your portable charger(s) for security inspections. Therefore, it is advised to utilize a cable organizer or small bag to keep the chargers separated during airport security screening.

What If My Portable Charger Is Not Allowed Through Security?

So what happens if your portable charger is not allowed through security? This could happen because the use of a portable charger in an aircraft is considered unsafe due to the potential fire hazard posed by lithium-ion batteries commonly used in these chargers.

If this happens, you can verify the TSA guidelines to determine if your portable charger is permissible through security. If it’s not, you may need to place it in checked baggage after the removal of batteries. Alternatively, you could consider using a power bank that adheres to airline regulations to circumvent any security-related complications.

Handling Portable Charger Malfunctions During a Flight

If your portable charger malfunctions during a flight, it’s important to know how to handle the situation. In case of a malfunction, follow these steps:

  1. Attempt using a different cable and wall charger.
  2. Unplug and re-plug the charging port multiple times.
  3. If the issue continues, seek assistance from customer support for further troubleshooting.

In the event of an overheating portable charger during a flight, it is advisable to:

  • Discontinue its use
  • Place it in a cool, well-ventilated area, avoiding direct sunlight or extreme temperatures
  • If the overheating persists or if there are indications of damage, dispose of it properly
  • Immediately notify the flight crew if the charger is overheating, expanding, smoking, or burning.

It is important to note that portable chargers should be carried in carry-on baggage only and are not permitted in checked baggage.

Tech-Savvy Traveler Tips

Being well-versed in the rules and regulations of traveling with a portable charger, we can now explore some tech-savvy tips for maximizing charger efficiency. To optimize the efficiency of your portable charger, it is advisable to consider:

  • Utilizing AC wall charging or a solar panel for more dependable charging
  • Selecting a high-quality battery
  • Avoiding fast charging methods that may produce excessive heat
  • Using high-quality cables
  • Charging your battery in short intervals rather than allowing it to completely drain

In addition to maximizing your portable charger’s efficiency, there are measures you can take to prolong its lifespan during travel. This includes consistently utilizing the original cable, refraining from overcharging, and discontinuing the charge at 80% rather than reaching full capacity.

Maximizing Your Portable Charger's Efficiency

Effective use of a portable charger can be ensured by:

  • Regular charging at least once a week, especially when used frequently like for daily commuting
  • Using the correct cable provided or a high-quality replacement
  • Keeping it in a cool environment.

In order to optimize the battery life of your power bank, it is advisable to store it within a moderate temperature range of 5 to 40 degrees Celsius. Additionally, it is recommended to recharge the power bank once every 2-3 months and to keep its charge level within 20% and 80% for optimal performance. Overcharging a portable charger can result in damage to the battery cells, a decrease in battery capacity, and a reduction in overall life and performance. Moreover, it presents safety hazards, including battery overheating and the possibility of explosions.

Alternative Charging Options at Airports

Lastly, if you’re without a portable charger or need more power, airports offer alternative charging options. The availability of power outlets in airports varies, but many airports have power outlets located throughout the terminals. Charging stations are also available in airports. To utilize them, one can simply plug their device into the charging station. Nevertheless, it is advisable to employ a USB data blocker or have a power-only USB cable to safeguard the device against potential security hazards.

There are also other alternatives for charging electronic devices at the airport. This includes utilizing the available outlets and implementing power-saving mode on your phone. So even if you find yourself without a portable charger, you’re not left powerless!


In conclusion, portable chargers can be a traveler’s best friend, keeping your devices powered on the go. It’s important to understand and follow the regulations for traveling with a portable charger, including watt-hour restrictions, lithium-ion battery safety, and airline approval for high-capacity power banks. Ensure you pack your charger properly and know the do’s and don’ts of using it mid-flight. By selecting the right portable charger for your needs and troubleshooting any issues that may arise, you can ensure a smooth journey with fully charged devices at your fingertips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take a 20000mah power bank on a plane?

Yes, you can take a 20000mAh power bank on a plane as it falls within the allowed capacity for most international airlines. However, it's important to verify specific regulations with the airline and destination country before traveling.

Can you take portable charger in hand carry or check in?

Yes, portable chargers can be taken in hand carry as they need to be packed in carry-on bags, as per FAA and IATA regulations. It is not allowed to place them in checked luggage.

Where should I pack my power bank when flying?

When flying, pack your power bank in your carry-on luggage to ensure it complies with airline regulations and for easy access during security checks. Avoid placing it at the bottom of your bag and be prepared to show it at the security checkpoint.

What size power bank can I take on American airlines?

You can take a power bank with a maximum 160Wh rating on American Airlines flights. The size should be within carry-on limits and must not exceed the given power rating.

What are the watt-hour limitations for portable chargers when traveling on airplanes?

Portable chargers for airplanes have a standard watt-hour limitation of less than 100 watt-hours for devices such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, and headphones. This ensures compliance with airline regulations and safe travel practices.

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