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Don’t Check That Bag…Yet! Let's Talk Lithium Batteries

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When I was a Customer Service Agent, it always amazed me what was on the list of items that weren't allowed in checked baggage. Yet, when bags undergo screening, the TSA has found bottles of bleach, WD-40, disinfectants, spray starch, and fireworks just to name a few of the prohibited items. While some of the above items may seem obvious, this year, Southwest's Safety & Security Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Team has seen a rise in events and incidents involving something common carried—lithium batteries. E-Cigarettes The latest craze: e-cigarettes (also known as e-cigs, vapes, vaporizers, or electronic nicotine delivery systems) are powered by lithium batteries. It’s reported that more than 2.5 million people are using these devices and that number is growing. E-cigarettes are designed to operate by creating heat, and if the power source is not guarded, it could cause it to inadvertently ignite causing a fire. A recent incident in the airline industry occurred on April 25, 2015, on an American Airlines flight. As the plane touched down during landing, a Flight Attendant reported smoke in the cabin. The aircraft came to a stop, and the Customers evacuated safely while the Flight Attendant successfully extinguished the fire. It was determined that the cause of the fire was an improperly packed e-cigarette inside of a carry-on bag. Southwest requires e-cigs be transported in one of the following ways: Because these articles are designed to operate by creating heat, they must be transported in one of the following ways:
  • The battery can remain installed but must be placed in carryon baggage or carried on your person only. The item cannot be used onboard the aircraft.
  • Spare batteries must be protected from short circuit and carried in carryon baggage or on your person only.
Southwest Airlines is committed to ensuring the Safety and Security of our Customers and Employees—it’s our number one priority. Please do you part to inform our Customers how to safely transport items containing lithium batteries.