TSA rules about extra batteries and chargers

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by leonard_evens, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. I am going on a short trip and plan to take a D70 with attached lens, an extra
    battery, several memory cards, and perhaps a battery charger. I'm assuming TSA
    won't give me any problems about such items. I plan to carry the camera about
    my neck and the other items either in carry-on baggage or in my pockets. Any
    advice about how how to speed things up when going through the security gate?

    Sorry for asking these questions, but I haven't travelled with a camera for a while.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    I have flown many times with DSLR batteries with no problems. However, if you also have the power cord for the charger with you, sometimes it could get their attention. Apparently a power cord could be a component in some sort of bombs.

    Once I traveled with my wife, and she had a lot of cables for her video camera. They ended up hand checking her entire carry-on bag.
  3. Leonard, I travel a lot and TSA has never said a word about my carry-on extra batteries, cards, etc. Obviously you can't go through their scanner with a camera around your neck so put it in one of the baskets. To make it easier, you might want to put your small camera items in a clear plastic bag and put that in the basket with your camera.

    The only thing they have ever hand-checked was my camera equipment, which also is always carried on in a camera bag/backpack. I tell them that if they drop anything, they buy it. They always ask me to lift the camera/lenses out of the bag. They have no idea what they are looking at but they seem satisfied that the other passengers are safe from my camera gear.

    Just an aside, I have found TSA touchier about video equipment but I have never asked why.
  4. One more thing to follow up on Shun's comment. Items such as battery charger, any liquids, tripods, screwdriver, etc., should go in your checked baggage. If it is not a delicate item like a camera body, lenses, flash unit, or extra battery/charger, there is no reason to carry it on the plane. My only exceptions are for very small things like a tiny flashlight, blower brush, etc.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    In my case, frequently I travel because I want to photograph. Therefore, I cannot afford to not have a charger with me, and I always take the charger as part of the carry on.

    My rule of thumb is that in case my checked luggage is lost, my trip still won't be completely ruined. The tripod is simply too big as a carry on, but I try to carry on my main DSLR body, main lenses, charger, memory cards, etc. On the way home, the charger is no longer important and can therefore go inside the checked luggage.
  6. Last year when I was on the Anchorage-Whittier Alaska train, I accidentally packed my extra batteries and charger. Sure enough, the lone battery died and much of that train ride was sans photos.

    Today I carry 3 batteries and 16Gb of memory in my bag. That should easily get me through at least 1500 shots, more than enough to cover a plane/train ride where my charger will be waiting on the other end. Of course, luggage can get misplaced temporarily or even lost altogether so I can see the merits of having the charger handy as a just-in-case. For me it is a weight/space thing.
  7. Even as far back as 1996 when the world was a different place, a camera/ video camera complete with batteries, power cords, etc. all packed in a camera bag has always attracted attention for me. They just ask to look inside and once they see what it is they just let me go on my way. I guess it looks real confusing when you look at it via the xray machine.

    In this day and age, I would avoid carrying wires in your pockets for obvious reasons. Just put everything in your carry on bag and send it through. Worst case scenario is they will look in your bag.
  8. I just got home from a trip, and had a bag containing a D70 with its charger, an N75, extra batteries for the N75, cords, etc., and had no trouble. But you never know what some petty despot is going to do. I got singled out for a special check while boarding, and the security goon didn't look in the camera bag, only my backpack, which she found fascinating.

    For me, having everything in a bag was easier than wearing the camera around my neck would have been....you'll find yourself taking your shoes off a lot, and you'll get tired of the D70 swinging from your neck.

    Have a jolly trip,

  9. I travel frequently on business both domestically (US) and worldwide. My carry on usually includes a laptop,a camera body, one or two lenses, various power cords and adapter for the laptop, cell phone and camera, Cisco cables and other work tools, plus an extra camera battery and a case with a number of memory cards. All the cords, wires and other bits all go in a clear ziplock bag and my lenses and dslr usually get wrapped in kitchen towels (for extra padding) before they go in my backpack.

    I have never once had a problem and I've never had to unpack anything. I've also been lucky and managed to avoid Heathrow for about the last 18 months, too...
  10. This is more amusing than anything, but can show what a person can run into: once I had an inspector insist that I take apart my 80-200 Nikkor zoom. I told her it was a lens and could not be taken apart. She still insisted until I put it on my camera and had her look through it. I've never had any problems with any camera gear except in film days I did have a problem with hand inspection in Russia and Brussels. When I go to Germany and Switzerland next week, I will pack all my photo gear in my carry-on. I do not want to chance losing extra batteries, chargers, cords, cards, lenses, etc. should my luggage get lost. Enjoy your trip.
    Dwayne Daehler
  11. And one more thought...photography is usually either prohibited or frowned upon in most airports, bus stations and train stations these days, so you'll make the TSA people and the cops a lot happier and save yourself some annoyance if you just pack the camera away in your carry on.
  12. As somebody who has traveled FAR too much... I recommend you always think of what will
    make the TSA people's job easy! If you make their job easy and if you are friendly and
    cooperative, it goes a long way.
  13. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    photography is usually either prohibited or frowned upon in most airports,
    Aside from immigration and customs areas of international airports, I've never noticed any prohibition against photography there.
  14. "Items such as battery charger"

    Items I need go in the carry-on. I've had my luggage misrouted on both legs of a single trip. And on the end one? They delivered my luggage back to me at home. At around 1a in the middle of a pouring rainstorm. Without ringing my doorbell or letting me know. The next morning at 7a when I called to check, they said it was still enroute.

    I would not check anything that isn't easily replaceable.

  15. I just got back from an overseas trip and had my camera bag and carry on backpack. The backpack had chargers for a couple of things. I had no problems at all.

    I'd say put the camera and lenses in a camera bag. Less likely to get damaged or lost - you can't walk thru the xray with the camera around your neck or lenses in your pockets - they'll all need to go in a tray and thru the xray machine.
  16. "Aside from immigration and customs areas of international airports, I've never noticed any prohibition against photography there."

    Security, checkout, ticket counters (without perission of involved airlines) and often concourses are officially prohibited. Depends on the airport.
  17. Just relax, the TSA can't bother you if you're not doing anything wrong. If you want to take your camera with you, they really can't do anything about that because they can't prohibit you from taking your camera on board. I understand they have a job to do but I'm a paying customer and I'm not compromising my hobby just because there are a few crazy people in the world.

    Just take my advice though and try not to pack wires in your pockets. Just put everything together in one bag and you'll be good to go.

    Just use your head when it comes to airline security and you'll be fine. If you find yourself saying "man, this looks suspicious," then it probably is and you should change something.
  18. There are US and international laws regarding transportation of LiIon batteries. These batteries contain metallic lithium, an element which is highly flammable and reacts violently with water. There is a limit to the amount of lithium that can be present without requiring special handling. AFIK, none of the consumer camera batteries approach this limit, but large video batteries (e.g., Anton Bauer) come close. More of this on the Anton Bauer website.

    These cells exist in a delicate state of balance. If you read the news, you know that several types of Sony LiIon batteries have been recalled after causing fires due to overheating in use or while being charged. If there's an incident on a plane, you can bet some changes will be made.

    The airport in Incheon, Korea, bans D-cells of any sort. Go figure.
  19. I routinely carry five or six camara bodies, and two dozen AA batteries. One camera battery charger goes in the camera bag, the other chargers go in checked baggage (the theory is that if my checked bags are lost or delayed, I can pick up AA batteries and chargers almost anywhere in the world).

    For extended trips, or those involving a good bit of equipment, consider shipping FedEx, UPS or DHL. Approximately a week out, ship a box (or more if necessary) to your hotel (advise them in advance that you will be expecting a package on arrival; have them store it for you). You can track the package(s) to it's destination, so you'll know in advance if your equipment arrived. Of course, if you're going to be doing this, I can't stress strongly enough the need to have some form of insurance for your gear.

    This also works for non-camera items. During a couple of multi-country visits, I actually shipped luggage (yes, with clothes!) to my final destination. Prior to leaving my first destination, I shipped a bag of clothes home; upon arrival at my final destination I already had a healthy supply of clean clothes.
  20. The TSA is focused on shampoo bottles these days. You are much more likely to have problems with your toiletries and the TSA these days than any amount of camera gear. So leave your lens cleaning solution at home and especially your Eclipse solution if you use it. Take a Artic Butterfly instead.
  21. Just traveled from Atlanta to Tokyo and back to Atlanta last week, with plane changes at ORD in Chicago: I was carrying multiple chargers and batteries and back up hard drives and lots of power cords adapter cables etc., as well as cameras, lenses and a 17" MacBook Pro --all distributed betwen a Thinktank Photo camera bag and a Thinktank Photo Airport International roll on for my two carry ons. I had no problems with TSA.

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