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FAA issues lithium battery warning

Keep spares in your hand luggage, airline passengers told

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned US airline passengers not to pack spare lithium batteries in their checked baggage.

The advisory covers "spare lithium metal and spare rechargeable lithium ion batteries for personal electronics such as cameras, cell phones, laptop computers, tablets, watches, calculators, etc".

The FAA states: "Spare (uninstalled) lithium ion and lithium metal batteries must be carried in carry-on baggage only. When a carry-on bag is checked at the gate or at planeside, all spare lithium batteries must be removed from the bag and kept with the passenger in the aircraft cabin. The battery terminals must be protected from short circuit."

The administration has previously said it will back a ban on shipping lithium batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft, due to the "immediate and urgent" risk of overheating batteries causing fire or explosion.

Some airlines, including British Airways and Air France, had already stopped carrying lithium battery cargo on their passenger flights back in July, when Boeing "warned operators of its aircraft not to carry bulk shipments of batteries until logistics companies design better transport packaging and shipping procedures".

On Monday, an Alaska Air flight from Newark to Seattle made an unscheduled stop in Buffalo, New York, after cabin crew were obliged to take a fire extinguisher to a flight attendant’s smoking credit card machine.

The cause was a "melting" lithium ion battery in the unit, according to an airline spokeswoman. ®

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