Personal Mobility is a HOT industry.
For those of you who are not in the loop, let me explain: In congested cities such as New York, Los Angeles, London or Rome, getting from point A to B with a car is almost as much fun as a root canal without anesthetic. Finding a place to park is a nightmare, and when you eventually do, it’s ridiculously expensive and typically nowhere near your destination so you tend to walk a couple of blocks to where you need to get to. Yes, you can Uber or Lyft, but it comes at a cost and you still have to sit in the same traffic.
Public transportation, such as the subway, is the natural choice, however, you still need to walk to and from the subway station to get to your final destination which can be several city blocks.
Enter Personal Mobility such as electric skateboards.
These transportation devices are portable and are powered by a rechargeable battery which can either be used as your main form of transportation or can be used to get to and from the public transport. This is known as the first & last mile.
Having an electric skateboard allows you to explore new cities on your own without having to deal with public transportation schedules, costs, and of course, the madness of rush-hour grumpy people trying to get home or to work. You simply step on the board, fire up the controller and head out.
But wait. It’s not all smooth riding. The big challenge is getting your electric skateboard on a flight in the first place!
Transportation Security Administration:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is responsible for the security of the public in the United States. I asked TSA if I can carry my electric skateboard through as carry-on luggage and they replied with:
The TSA doesn’t have a problem with the boards going through security as long as the board’s battery meets the lithium ion requirements as outlined in the link in the Tweet :
1) Where the lithium ion battery does not exceed 100 Wh passengers may have these devices in either checked or carry-on baggage.
2) Where the lithium ion battery exceeds 100 Wh but does not exceed 160 Wh passengers may have these devices in either checked or carry-on baggage, but approval of the airline is required.
3) Where the lithium ion battery exceeds 160 Wh the device is forbidden from being in either passenger checked or carry-on baggage.
U.S Department of Transportation:
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration from the US Department of Transportation has the following on their website:
As far as they are concerned, a Lithium Ion Battery that is installed on a device with less than 160 watt-hours is permitted for both checked baggage AND carry-on baggage.
The Federal Aviation Administration:
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States is a national authority with powers to regulate all aspects of civil aviation (Wikipedia). The FAA confirms that Lithium ion batteries are allowed as carry-on luggage and as check in luggage with airline approval (source):
So the TSA and the Department of Transportation and the FAA have all cleared devices that have under 160 watt hours per battery.
So this is a go! right?…eh…NO.
They all say: “Operator approval required” ie. check with the airline for their final decision. So I did. It doesn’t end well…
The next step was to check with the airlines to determine their individual policy on either checking-in the electric skateboard or taking it on board as carry-on luggage. This was not a straight forward task as most airlines were very confused. They seem to have policies for non-powered skateboards which fall under “sporting equipment”. They have policies for lithium ion batteries. However a skateboard with a lithium ion battery is just too complicated and the default answer was to just refer to the “no howeverboard allowed” rule.
United Airlines – Verdict: NO.
Southwest Airlines – Verdict: NO.
Spirit – Verdict: NO
Virgin America – Verdict: NO
Delta – Verdict: NO
JetBlue – Verdict: NO
Alaska Air – Verdict: NO
Frontier – Verdict: NO
So in summary:
The travel authorities such as the FAA, TSA, and Department of Transportation are clear about the lithium ion policy and have green-lighted these as long as they are under 160 watt hours. The airlines are saying NO and ironically, are referencing the FAA and the Department of Transportation as the reason of why these are not allowed!
When you ask Customer Services at various airlines about travelling with an electric skateboard, you get the following replies:
This email is from Southwest:
This email is from JetBlue:
This is from Virgin:
Here is my reply to that email:
Here is their reply:
eh…no thank you…
Until the airlines update their policies and information, The only feasible way that I can think of getting your electric skateboard to wherever you are flying to, is to ship it with a courier company since this is the way that the sellers of these boards get the board to you.