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Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

June 25, 2012

 It was reported to INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL NEWS, that as of December 2011, Air India had adopted a policy of confiscating extra Lithium batteries for ANY device that were not installed in a device which were on travelers' carry-on bags.  This was achieved by setting up an extra security desk of their own, beyond the government checkpoint at the entrance to the gate.  Travelers were told that they could put the extra batteries in their checked luggage.  That seems like a reasonable solution until one delves into the issue a bit further.  Most airlines, including most government security agencies do not permit Lithium batteies regardless of whether they are loose or packed in the original, unopened packages to be included in checked luggage, because they still represented a potential fire hazard.  Batteries installed in a device are deemed by those same agencies to be safe.

So Air India's policy appears to offer travelers NO solution.  They will have any extra Lithium batteries confiscated by Air India's battery police, since they can't put them in their carry-on luggage( which every other airline permits ), or put them in their checked luggage with every other airline and government authority says is unsafe, and prohibits.  The editors of International Travel News wrote to both Air India and the Indian government safety agency, describing this dilemma, rwice, and received no response from Air India, as of the publication date of their recent magazine( July 2012 ), and received a response from the Indian government Agency which directed them to go to their web site.  When the web site was accessed, the page which SHOULD have described what to do was unavailable, as the web site said it was "under construction."

What is the end result?  If you travel Air India, and carry extra Lithium batteries, which virtually every traveler does, prepare to have them confiscated by Air India's Lithium battery police, because you can't carry them on and you can't put them in checked luggage.  Travelers do, however, have a simple expedient:  Don't travel Air India, So if anyone is booked on a Grand Circle or OAT trip with air using Air India, now would be a good time to take advantage of Grand Circle's new policy of choice and opting out of Aior India.  Unless of course, you are not going to bring any extra batteries.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 526
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

June 25, 2012

 Does this apply to lithium-ion batteries as well as primary lithium batteries? Lithium-iom batteries seem to be much more common, and are of a lower fire risk.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

June 26, 2012

 The article didn't specify a difference.  Just Lithium batteries, either in AA, AAA or the larger types used by most digital cameras, including the larger batteries of DSLRS.  We doubt the Air India battery police will be sophisticated enough to distinguish between any hazardous potential of each, if indeed, one exists.  You may, however, bring any of those tuypes aboard in your carry-on if they are installed in a device.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 526
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

June 26, 2012

 TSA has published a paper Safe Travel with Batteries and Devices that discuses the safety issues with both types of batteries. There appears to be a legitimate concern with the safety of primary lithium batteries. Here is the article

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

June 28, 2012

 nanandpapa-your post reiterates what we asserted in our first paragrpah:  You can't put them in checked luggage, and if the battery police of Air India are not permitting you to put them in your carry-on, you have a dilemma.  

The simple solution is to avoid the dilemma by NOT flying Air India.  That should not be much of a problem with Grand Circle's new policy which allows you the choice.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 977
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

June 28, 2012

Just curious.  Do they give any reason for this?

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 526
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

June 28, 2012

 To me, the key paragraph in the TSA paper is

"The research also shows that an explosion will not result from shorting or damaging either lithium-ion or primary lithium batteries. Both are, however, extremely flammable. Primary lithium batteries cannot be extinguished with firefighting agents normally carried on aircraft, whereas lithium-ion batteries are easily extinguished by most common extinguishing agents, including those carried on board commercial aircraft."

I don't believe that I would want to be in a plane with burning material which can not be extinguished with firefighting agents carried on the plane, whether it is in checked or carry on baggage. It seems to me that Air India may be erring on the safety, which is fine with me. 

Taking this paper at it's word, it seems that primary lithium batteries should possibly be banned from planes until means are available to extinguish them.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

June 29, 2012

The key with lithium batteries is WHERE they are carried on the aircraft.  The TSA, as well as most commercial airline companies do not have any problem with carrying them either loose or in devices, in the cabin, because there is a low probability of them catching fire.  Where they have a problem is if they're stored in checked luggage, where for whatever reason, the probability of fire is greater.  So they do not permit them in checked luggage, but do permit them in devices or loose in carry-on luggage.  Air India's policy runs contrary to both policy and practice of virtually every other air carrier.  We must disagree with you, because what they are recommending that travelers do with their extra batteries( put them in checked luggage ) runs contrary to the established safety practices of every other carrier in the world.

 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 526
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

June 29, 2012

 In May of 1996, our government and airlines procedures at the time allowed oxygen generators in the cargo hold of ValueJet flight 592, resulting in a fire and subsequent crash that killed 110 passengers and crew. Yes there were violations of procedures, but there should have been safeguards to prevent this. Subsequently new rules were put into place to prevent a repitition. That is known as closing the barn door after the horses have escaped.

I think that the risk of an unextinguishable fire any place in an aircraft is unjustifiable. Until they have extnguishers that can put out a fire in primary lithium batteries aboard the plane, such batteries should not be allowed anyplace onboard. There is no hazard greater to an aircraft in flight than fire.

It usually taks a tragedy for the government and airlines to establish adequate safeguards. The probability of such a disaster may be small, but the prevention is simple. Why should we take the risk.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

June 30, 2012

 Your post describes exactly why they are NOT permitted in checked luggage, but Air India is recommending that they be placed there.  As we said, the risk if they are carried loose in the cabin is minimal, very likely due to the presence of crew and other passengers to call attention to any problem, which is NOT the case if they are stored in the checked luggage.  Air India's policy is unwarranted and contrary to policy and practice of every other carrier as well as every other government safety entity( India's government Safety agency's website which should deal with this issue is "under construction," and requests to them have directed people to the web site, from which you cannot get information.  When they wer informed about this, they had no reply.

It's always good to err on the side of safety, unfortunately, this is not one of those instances, apparently.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

July 20, 2012

 Just got off the phone with an OAT representative who had called us regarding air arrangements for a trip we are taking to Turkey.  Not a big deal; just a routine OAT call to go over the arrangements in accordance with their True Choice air pilicy.  We happend to mention that we were going to Nepal in late 2013, and although we knew that no arrangements could be made for that trip until contracts were let, which would be around the end of this year, we asked that a note be placed in our reservation to NOT book us on Air India.  Primarily due to what we know, which we shared in this thread.

The OAT representative said that it was funny because we were the SECOND people he had spoken to who mentioned the same thing about Air India and batteries.  Because of this, he was going to send an e-mail up the chain and also speak to his colleagues to see if anyone else had heard this from clients.  At least Grand Circle is also aware.   

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