From my understanding, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has some regulation regarding lithium-ion batteries that exceed 100 Wh. In theory.

Do airlines really check whether battery packs for laptop/phone/tablets are less than 100 or 160 Wh?

I'm mostly interested in flights within the US as well as flights between US, France, and South Korea.

Examples of how these batteries look:

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • Since you mention South Korea: There are some places where the regulations are even stricer, Hong Kong being one of them. So if you ever transfer there with the risk of going through security again, this is good to know. They check the mAh rating of the device (which must not be >=10000), and if there is none printed on it, they will keep it. – DCTLib Jun 17 '15 at 8:08
  • Since both the battery packs you're showing and also all regular laptop batteries are well below 100Wh: What kind of device do you have an issue with? – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 17 '15 at 8:11
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo E.g. Poweradd™ Pilot Pro 32000mAh. – Franck Dernoncourt Jun 17 '15 at 16:27
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    Just so you know, airlines never check luggage. Luggage is checked by customs and security personnel, but never airline staff. – Burhan Khalid Jun 22 '16 at 5:38
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    Not sure how that disagrees with what I said. – Burhan Khalid Jun 16 '18 at 7:58

No, they don't. Security looks for weapons and bombs; if it's not either, they're not interested. Of course, there's always the off chance that you'll run into some particularly zealous and clued-in inspector with a fetish for lithium batteries, but realistically I wouldn't worry about it.

Also, 90% of the regulation you link to is about transporting lithium batteries in bulk as cargo, which they are concerned about since there have been high-profile accidents link to lithium battery fires in the cargo hold.


In China, they are super strict about batteries and yes they read. I haven't seen that much in the US, they seem to not be as strict.

  • 3
    Can you perhaps provide a link to back up your remarks? – mdewey Jun 15 '18 at 14:52
  • @mdewey You'll probably find some mention of it in the China forum of Flyertalk.com. Personally, I've seen them checking mine. – Loren Pechtel Jun 16 '18 at 2:26
  • Also had my battery pack given a very close inspection at PEK everytime I've flown through there. – Calchas Jun 16 '18 at 16:25

Since you mention specifically South Korea, I just (2018/6/16) went through security at ICN, terminal 1. Here's what happened:

  1. Check-in staff asked me whether I had batteries in my check-in luggage. Nope.
  2. Trust but verify: I had to wait 5 minutes after check-in near the counters while my luggage was x-rayed.
  3. I went through security. Staff opened my bag and visually inspected, among other things, my 16,000-mAh power bank. Which ain't that big. enter image description here

So the answer is your power bank will be inspected in Korea, but by airport security rather than the airline.

  • 1
    China, likewise. They check them and seize anything oversize or unlabeled. – Loren Pechtel Jun 16 '18 at 2:25

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