News: Li-Ion batteries being confiscated

News has reached us that cavers travelling through Dubai airport are having their Li-Ion batteries confiscated. We understand that some travellers have had as many as three Scurion batteries taken from them.

Luxeon Rebel ES StenLight S7+ Always better with a battery.
Photo by courtesy of Excellent Stuff

According to the Scurion website. “Rules for transportation of such batteries in airplanes are made by the IATA and the carriers normally follow them. At the moment you are not limited to take with you Scurion®-batteries in your carry-on baggage. But the airport security must be able to read the labels on the batteries in order to control the battery capacity in Wh! If the label is worn out and not readable they will probably confiscate the battery and dispose [of it]. You should check that before you fly and may contact us in case you’d need a new label.”

Many older battery labels do not carry the correct Wh information. If you do find yourself arguing with customs over lack of watt hour info it might be worth remembering that you can quickly calculate Wh by multiplying amp hours by voltage; e.g. a 7.2V battery rated at 4.5Ah give 7.2 x 4.5 – 32.4Wh.

Scurion’s advice is sensible and good, but it seems that it is not being followed in Dubai where batteries appear to be subject to confiscation – without compensation – regardless. This problem does not, of course, apply only to Scurion batteries; we have read of similar problems for other travellers, with laptops, photographic equipment, even electronic cigarettes! This latter item is illegal in Dubai, but had, it seems, previously been ignored in checked-in (hold) luggage during stopovers. It serves, therefore as a warning of the extent to which the Dubai authorities are stamping down on the carriage of such items.

We are unable to understand why just one country is acting in such a high-handed way, but as its airport is a regular stop-over for European cavers heading East on expeditions we do feel that a warning is needed.

For further information on the safe transport of batteries see this link for installed batteries and this link for spares. In a nutshell, all batteries should be carried in hand luggage, although the numbers allowed vary from airline to airline. This does make them easier to check – and of course to confiscate! We also recommend that prospective travellers abide by the advice given by Scurion:

  • Ensure that all of your batteries, not just headlamp ones, are properly labelled. Don’t forget the ones in home-made headlamps.
  • Talk to your carrier as soon as possible about potential problems.
  • Or just avoid stopovers in Dubai.

Correspondent: Graham Mullan