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I'm confused by the in-cabin regulations regarding batteries: It seems I need to be able to demonstrate my laptop turns on when checking in for a US-bound flight in Germany (Lufthansa), in order to avoid the possibility I might have switched my laptop battery for explosives.

So far, so good. However, applying logic to my case, that would mean I shouldn't be allowed to take a replacement battery with me. However, I couldn't find an explicit rule prohibiting that; also, I don't have much trust in the combinatorics between logic and airport/craft security rules.

Does anyone have a definite source for info on this?

  • Remember than even though there may be a secondary check at the gate, security checks are usually common to all destination, so it shouldn't matter whether it's a flight to the US or not. However, it you want to stick to the rule, you should check your airline's rules. Can you specify which one you'll be flying? Though most are probably based on IATA rules, they may vary. – jcaron Sep 7 '16 at 12:20
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    Note that in my own experience: I've never been asked to turn on a laptop in at least 10 years, and I've carried quite a lot of spare batteries in hand luggage, and nobody ever raised an eyebrow. – jcaron Sep 7 '16 at 12:21
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    For reference, the IATA leaflet about Lithium batteries – jcaron Sep 7 '16 at 12:22
  • They could always ask you to exchange the battery with the replacement and turn the laptop on again. If they would care. Typically, the only thing relevant is size of the batteries, not count (unless you have uncommonly many) – Aganju Sep 7 '16 at 12:26
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    @jcaron your comments are definitely worth an answer; if you write that answer, I might just happen to accept it :) – Marcus Müller Sep 7 '16 at 12:35
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As you are travelling on Lufthansa, Google's answer for "lufthansa battery policy" points to:

http://www.lufthansa.com/mediapool/pdf/74/media_1070298774.pdf

Which states:

Portable electronic devices with lithium

Description: portable electronic devices containing lithium-metal or lithium-ion cells or batteries, e.g. watches, calculators, cameras, mobile phones, laptop computers, camcorders, etc., when these are intended for personal use.

  • Checked baggage: Yes
  • Carry-on baggage: Yes
  • Carrier’s approval required: No

Rules for spare batteries:

  • Spare lithium-metal or lithium-ion cells or batteries with a nominal energy of up to 100 Wh for these everyday objects:
    • may only be carried in carry-on baggage and for personal use
    • these batteries must be individually secured against short circuit.
  • Each installed battery or spare battery may not exceed the following values:

    • lithium-metal or batteries with lithium alloy with a lithium content of 2 g, or
    • for lithium-ion batteries a nominal energy of 100 Wh.
  • Spare lithium-ion batteries for the above-named everyday objects with a nominal energy between 100 and 160 Wh:

    • maximum of two spare batteries per person
    • only permitted in carry-on baggage
    • each battery must be secured individually against short circuit
    • the carrier’s approval is required

No mention of a requirement to turn on the laptop. But don't forget to either wrap each space battery individually, or add a bit of tape on the contact to avoid any unwanted short-circuit.

Nowadays, the problem with batteries is more that they tend to burn/explode than the risk of someone placing explosives instead (I believe this would be detected by current generation luggage scanners).

Note also that:

  • even though you may encounter random secondary security checks at the gate for some flights (including to the US), security checks are usually common to all destinations
  • most airlines apply the IATA rules about Lithium batteries
  • in my experience, I've never been asked to turn on a laptop in at least 10 years
  • I've carried quite a lot of spare batteries in hand luggage, and nobody ever raised an eyebrow

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