updated 03:35 pm EST, Fri December 28, 2007
Luggage lithium ban
Within days, air travellers will no longer be able hold loose lithium batteries in their luggage, the US Department of Transportation says. As of January 1st, batteries will either have to be inserted into a phone, notebook or other electronic device, or else dropped into a plastic bag, and bundled along with carry-on baggage in a limit of two batteries per passenger.
The issue, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, is that if a lithium battery catches fire while in a cargo hold, current extinguishing systems are unable to stop the blaze. The National Transportation Safety Board insists that it cannot rule out lithium as the source of a plane fire at the Philadelphia International Airport in 2006.
The ban may have its greatest impact on notebook users, who sometimes carry extra batteries in pouches to extend a notebook's typical two- to four-hour power supply. It may also affect people travelling with cameras for pro work or extended vacations, as pre-charged batteries may be a necessity in countries with different electrical outlets. [via The New York Times]