A Site for Photographers by Photographers

TSA rules about extra batteries and chargers

Leonard Evens , Aug 20, 2007; 07:05 p.m.

I am going on a short trip and plan to take a D70 with attached lens, an extra battery, several memory cards, and perhaps a battery charger. I'm assuming TSA won't give me any problems about such items. I plan to carry the camera about my neck and the other items either in carry-on baggage or in my pockets. Any advice about how how to speed things up when going through the security gate?

Sorry for asking these questions, but I haven't travelled with a camera for a while.


    1   |   2   |   3     Next    Last

Shun Cheung , Aug 20, 2007; 07:10 p.m.

I have flown many times with DSLR batteries with no problems. However, if you also have the power cord for the charger with you, sometimes it could get their attention. Apparently a power cord could be a component in some sort of bombs.

Once I traveled with my wife, and she had a lot of cables for her video camera. They ended up hand checking her entire carry-on bag.

Bruce Margolis , Aug 20, 2007; 07:53 p.m.

Leonard, I travel a lot and TSA has never said a word about my carry-on extra batteries, cards, etc. Obviously you can't go through their scanner with a camera around your neck so put it in one of the baskets. To make it easier, you might want to put your small camera items in a clear plastic bag and put that in the basket with your camera.

The only thing they have ever hand-checked was my camera equipment, which also is always carried on in a camera bag/backpack. I tell them that if they drop anything, they buy it. They always ask me to lift the camera/lenses out of the bag. They have no idea what they are looking at but they seem satisfied that the other passengers are safe from my camera gear.

Just an aside, I have found TSA touchier about video equipment but I have never asked why.

Bruce Margolis , Aug 20, 2007; 07:58 p.m.

One more thing to follow up on Shun's comment. Items such as battery charger, any liquids, tripods, screwdriver, etc., should go in your checked baggage. If it is not a delicate item like a camera body, lenses, flash unit, or extra battery/charger, there is no reason to carry it on the plane. My only exceptions are for very small things like a tiny flashlight, blower brush, etc.

Shun Cheung , Aug 20, 2007; 08:06 p.m.

In my case, frequently I travel because I want to photograph. Therefore, I cannot afford to not have a charger with me, and I always take the charger as part of the carry on.

My rule of thumb is that in case my checked luggage is lost, my trip still won't be completely ruined. The tripod is simply too big as a carry on, but I try to carry on my main DSLR body, main lenses, charger, memory cards, etc. On the way home, the charger is no longer important and can therefore go inside the checked luggage.

Bruce Margolis , Aug 20, 2007; 08:22 p.m.

Last year when I was on the Anchorage-Whittier Alaska train, I accidentally packed my extra batteries and charger. Sure enough, the lone battery died and much of that train ride was sans photos. Today I carry 3 batteries and 16Gb of memory in my bag. That should easily get me through at least 1500 shots, more than enough to cover a plane/train ride where my charger will be waiting on the other end. Of course, luggage can get misplaced temporarily or even lost altogether so I can see the merits of having the charger handy as a just-in-case. For me it is a weight/space thing.

Dan K , Aug 20, 2007; 08:49 p.m.

Even as far back as 1996 when the world was a different place, a camera/ video camera complete with batteries, power cords, etc. all packed in a camera bag has always attracted attention for me. They just ask to look inside and once they see what it is they just let me go on my way. I guess it looks real confusing when you look at it via the xray machine.

In this day and age, I would avoid carrying wires in your pockets for obvious reasons. Just put everything in your carry on bag and send it through. Worst case scenario is they will look in your bag.

Scot Steele , Aug 20, 2007; 09:09 p.m.

I just got home from a trip, and had a bag containing a D70 with its charger, an N75, extra batteries for the N75, cords, etc., and had no trouble. But you never know what some petty despot is going to do. I got singled out for a special check while boarding, and the security goon didn't look in the camera bag, only my backpack, which she found fascinating.

For me, having everything in a bag was easier than wearing the camera around my neck would have been....you'll find yourself taking your shoes off a lot, and you'll get tired of the D70 swinging from your neck.

Have a jolly trip,


Denise D (San Francisco) , Aug 20, 2007; 09:14 p.m.

I travel frequently on business both domestically (US) and worldwide. My carry on usually includes a laptop,a camera body, one or two lenses, various power cords and adapter for the laptop, cell phone and camera, Cisco cables and other work tools, plus an extra camera battery and a case with a number of memory cards. All the cords, wires and other bits all go in a clear ziplock bag and my lenses and dslr usually get wrapped in kitchen towels (for extra padding) before they go in my backpack.

I have never once had a problem and I've never had to unpack anything. I've also been lucky and managed to avoid Heathrow for about the last 18 months, too...

Dwayne Daehler , Aug 20, 2007; 10:31 p.m.

This is more amusing than anything, but can show what a person can run into: once I had an inspector insist that I take apart my 80-200 Nikkor zoom. I told her it was a lens and could not be taken apart. She still insisted until I put it on my camera and had her look through it. I've never had any problems with any camera gear except in film days I did have a problem with hand inspection in Russia and Brussels. When I go to Germany and Switzerland next week, I will pack all my photo gear in my carry-on. I do not want to chance losing extra batteries, chargers, cords, cards, lenses, etc. should my luggage get lost. Enjoy your trip. Dwayne Daehler

    1   |   2   |   3     Next    Last

Back to top

Notify me of Responses