David Kirkpatrick

February 8, 2010

Laptops and air travel …

… aren’t good partners, and will soon be even more at odds. Thanks Department of Transportation.

From the link:

Buying your next laptop computer or smartphone online could suddenly get a lot more expensive if a little-known U.S. Department of Transportation proposal to tighten rules around the shipment of small, battery-powered devices by air goes through, says an industry group opposing the move.

Airline passengers would be affected too, as rules banning spare lithium-ion batteries in checked-in luggage would also be extended to alkaline and nickel metal-hydride batteries, argues George Kerchner, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Portable Rechargeable Battery Association.

“It will be a nightmare for passengers,” Kerchner said.

On January 8, the department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced plans to eliminate exceptions on small lithium cells and batteries, defined as less than 100-watt hours in capacity (typical laptop batteries hold 60-80 watt-hours). Small lithium batteries are considered a class 9 hazardous material, a miscellaneous category which includes dry ice and magnetized goods. Batteries under the 100 watt-hour limit had long been exempted from the rules.

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