Travelling with batteries - Guidelines to ease your journey

Travelling with batteries has its own challenges as airline regulations mean they have to be approved before you fly. Here Mandy Latimore looks at some of the do’s and don’ts about airline travel and how to package and carry batteries.

Passengers who use battery-operated wheelchairs or other battery-powered mobility aids (MA’s) with spillable batteries need to get approval from the operator (airline) to transport them as checked baggage.

The best way to avoid delays and unnecessary hassle on the day is to give all the information to your travel agent so that they can get the approval before issuing your ticket. Also, you do need to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare so that the airline can check you in and inform the Assisted Passenger Crew that you have arrived.

There are obviously many types of batteries and the newer gel type batteries do not require the battery to be disconnected provided the battery terminals are insulated to prevent accidental short circuits.

Wheelchairs and other mobility aids using wet batteries must be loaded according to the following guidelines:

1.If the wheelchair or MA is loaded, stowed, secured and unloaded always in the upright position, the battery must be disconnected, the battery terminals insulated to prevent accidental short circuits and the battery securely attached to the wheelchair or MA; OR

2.If the wheelchair or MA cannot be loaded in the upright position, then the battery must be removed and the wheelchair or MA may then be checked in as baggage without restrictions. The removed battery must be carried in strong rigid packaging as follows:

Packagings must be leak-tight, impervious to battery fluid and be protected against upset by using appropriate meansof securement.
Batteries must be protected and surrounded by compatible absorbent material sufficient to absorb the total liquid contents and
These packagings must be marked “ BATTERY WET WITH WHEELCHAIR” or “BATTERY WET WITH MOBILITY AID” and labeled with the “Corrosive” label.

3.Wheelchairs or MA’s with non-spillable batteries, being carried with the approval of the operator as checked baggage only, must be loaded with the battery disconnected, the battery terminals insulated to prevent accidental short circuits and the battery securely attached to the wheelchair or MA.

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