Tips for Traveling Abroad with FPV Drone and LiPo Batteries on Plane

by Oscar

Travelling abroad with an FPV drone and batteries can be exciting yet challenging, but with a little preparation it’s really easier than it seems. Drawing from my experience, I will share some tips and insights on how to travel with FPV drones and LiPo batteries on an airplane smoothly.

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If you are not travelling on plane, check out these this spacious backpacks designed for FPV I recently reviewed which is great for hiking.

Here’s my portable setup for travelling:

Country-Specific Drone Restrictions

Some countries prohibit drones entirely (or have a limit on drone weight). Before traveling, check the local requirements for drones to avoid unwelcome surprises at customs. Don’t assume you’ll be able to bring your drone without prior research.

Separate Your FPV Drone Related Stuff

Keep your FPV stuff separate from other essentials.

Place items likely to be checked or confiscated, like batteries, in a single bag. This minimizes the risk of losing important belongings. Batteries must be in carry-on luggage, while sharp tools should be in checked baggage.

If you’re carrying the drone in carry-on, remove the props to prevent damage. I normally travel with the drone in my carry on, but I have also been asked specifically to put the drone in my checked baggage before by airline staff when checking in, so prepared for that (leave enough room in the suitcase for the drone).

Equipment with batteries, like radios, should also be in carry-on unless the battery is removed.

How Many LiPo Are Allowed On Plane?

Airline and airport regulations on LiPo batteries vary. Large and well equipped airports seem to be fine usually (probably because they deal with it all the times), but smaller airports can be more nervous about LiPo’s. Check both the airline and airport’s websites or contact them directly for clarity.

For example, the FAA calculates battery allowance by watt-hours:

Watt hours (Wh) = 3.7V (Nominal Voltage) x Cell Count x Capacity (Amp hours Ah)

FPV drone batteries are generally measured in mAh (milliamp-hours), where 1000mAh is equivalent to 1Ah. For instance, a 6S 1000mAh battery calculation would be:

3.7V x 6 x 1000mAh/1000 = 22.2 Wh (Watt hours)

According to FAA rules, there’s no limit on the number of batteries as long as no single battery exceeds 100Wh, making this 6S 1000mAh LiPo in our example permissible for travel.

Typically, FPV drone LiPo batteries are well below this watt-hour limit, so there shouldn’t be a restriction on the quantity you can carry. However, be mindful that security may become apprehensive if you have an excessive number, so exercise discretion!

They look at the watt hours of your battery to determine whether it is allowed on the plane. Therefore, your batteries should have the original label that clearly shows all the important information. If your battery is missing the label or you built the battery pack yourself which doesn’t have a label, you risk getting your battery confiscated. This happened to me a couple of times when my self-built 18650 Li-ion packs with written labels were not accepted and taken away.

Battery Preparation Before Travelling

LiPo and Li-ion batteries are only allowed as carry-on baggage.

Personally, I always cover the battery terminals (e.g. XT30/XT60 and balance connectors) with caps to prevent short-circuiting during transportation. Although the design of the XT60 connector inherently protects against short-circuiting, it’s always better to be prepared. They can be 3D printed, but you can also buy them online.

Get XT60 caps here:

Get XT30 caps here:

Place batteries in as many separate “LiPo safe” bags as you see necessary. Get some LiPo Safe bags from here:

Xt30 Xt60 Lipo Battery Connector Tpu Cover Protector

Ensure all your batteries are labeled clearly, showing their nominal voltage, capacity, and watt-hours. This is important, as security might check the labels to verify they meet the requirements.

It’s also good practice to store your LiPo batteries at storage voltage (3.80V – 3.85V per cell). While I’ve never had my batteries checked for storage charge, erring on the side of caution is advisable.

Print out the airline’s regulations regarding LiPo batteries and keep it with your batteries. In case of any issues, you can then present the documentation for clarification.

Once you’ve boarded the plane, you can place your FPV drone and batteries in the overhead locker.

Be Transparent and Patient

Consider this tip a cardinal rule for drone travel: the words you use to describe your FPV drone to travel officials have the power to ruin your trip.

Personally, I’d avoid insider terms like “5-inch”, “quadcopter”, “multirotor”, “mini quad”, or anything else that might sound cool. It is, for the duration of your trip, a “camera drone” or a “remote-controlled toy helicopter”. This might save a lot of explaining.

If using a LiPo bag, consider removing or covering words like “explosion” and “fire” to avoid drawing unnecessary attention at checkpoints.

With everything you do, you want to give the impression that you have nothing to hide (after all, you don’t!). For example, if you plan to pack your FPV drone as carry-on, proactively take it out and place it in the tray at the Airport security checkpoint. Expect some suspicion – it’s part of security agents’ job. Make sure your quadcopter is easily accessible in case agents need to inspect it.

If you find yourself in a situation where someone has the power to make the call whether or not to confiscate your drone for good, your kind words and friendly demeanor might mean the difference between keeping or losing it. Expect and be prepared that you will likely be hassled at the airport for traveling with a drone and especially lots of LiPo batteries. And remember that those hassles serve the purpose of keeping us all safer in the skies.

Dealing with Security Issues

Even with all precautions, you might encounter security personnel who are not familiar with the regulations. I had a friend who once had to discard all his batteries when returning from a foreign country despite having the regulations printed out. Sometimes, you might face someone determined to make your day challenging, and there’s little that can be done in such situations.


Traveling abroad with FPV drones and LiPo batteries requires preparation and understanding of both international and country-specific regulations. Always carry documentation regarding battery regulations, be prepared for security checks, and research drone laws in your destination country. While most experiences should be hassle-free, always be prepared for the unexpected and remain adaptable. With these tips, you can enjoy your FPV drone adventures around the world without major setbacks.

Lastly, while these tips have been serving me well personally, you should always check with your particular airline and airport to make sure you’re aware of any specific rules they may have.

Edit History

  • Jul 2016 – Article created
  • Mar 2019 – Article re-written
  • Dec 2022 – Shortened URL
  • Dec 2023 – Updated article

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Basil 1st April 2024 - 3:53 pm

Hey! Just following your Li-Ion comment on how you got yours confiscated, the ones I bought have a sticker label on top of the plastic seal (not embedded like normal LiPos) which look like they were stuck on after the fact.
Specifically “Dogcom 6S1P 4000mAh” for reference, do you think they would be fine to take without fear given your experience?

Oscar 2nd April 2024 - 3:51 pm

I wouldn’t think it’s a problem, but it’s up to the airport to decide :)

martin Deschamps 28th February 2023 - 8:12 am

thank you oscar for your help !
however, when you say all batteries should be in carry on, do you mean that the radio and goggle should be also with me in carry on or can i put it in my checked baggage ?

Oscar 28th February 2023 - 10:03 am

any devices that contains battery should be in carry on. But if you can remove the battery, then you can just keep the battery in the carry on and put the battery-less device in your suitcase if it’s too big/heavy for carry on.

Wingspinner 16th September 2019 - 6:40 pm

This is an old article but still an important topic! As a long time RC builder and flyer of nearly every type of vehicle and particularly large 3D helicopters and many, many quads and multicopters, I believe it’s important to emphasize how fragile and dangerous LiPo and other high energy density battery types are.

As a personal example, I used to frequently transport my helicopters and “drones” ( hate that word because it’s so incorrect in so many ways not the least of which is becaus of it’s association with military UAVs by virtually all the general public) in the back of my SUV keeping my batteries in a cardboard box. I also always line the floor of the SUV with a large piece of cardboard to protect the carpet. That piece of cardboard would prove to be a critical factor in saving my vehicle. At the time, I thought the batteries were reasonably protected until one day, while negotiating a freeway overpass, one of my helicopters rolled over and fell on the box of batteries in such a way that one of it’s blades penetrated a 4s 1800mah battery. The cut was only about a half inch long and a quarter inch deep or less however it caused one cell to short out internally.

I realized something was wrong when I looked at the rear view mirror and saw that the entire area behind the front seats was filled with dense white smoke. Yes, it was that quick and only seconds later the smoke had filled the entire passenger compartment such that I was barely able to see enough to quickly pull over to the side of the freeway. I stopped the vehicle as quickly as I could, jumped out, ran around to the rear and opened the back door to billowing smoke and flames. Since the battery was on fire in a box of other batteries there was no way to grab it and remove it from the SUV without getting seriously burned however I was able to grab the edge of the cardboard that protected the carpet and slide the entire contents out of the SUV onto the ground where I was able to grab the heli out of the way, push over the box of batteries, and use an umbrella to push the flaming battery away from the others and off the cardboard.

It burned for over 20 minutes lighting off each cell of the battery cells in sizzling and mildly explosive succession eventually generating flames nearly as tall as myself and much billowing smoke. I tried a halon fire extinguisher I kept in the SUV to absolutely no effect. Burning LiPo batteries generate their own oxygen. When it finally stopped burning and was cool enough (over an hour later), I was able to pick up the offending battery by sliding a piece of sheet metal under it and leave the scene.

Had I not been able to remove the flaming battery from the vehicle so quickly, there was no doubt in my mind that the vehicle interior would have caught fire and very likely destroyed the entire SUV as well as likely causing other batteries to light off. In the end, the only serious damage was the loss of a $120 helicopter blade set and a hundred dollars or so of burn damaged batteries.

Lesson learned, I now transport all batteries in a container designed to transport LiPo batteries and I never, ever take them on an airplane without safety packaging and proper declaration and labeling.

A second experience was as a passenger on a commercial airline flight from San Jose, Ca. to Tokyo. Midway over the Pacific Ocean the pilot announced over the intercom that we were “having a problem” and had to land at the nearest airport. We were a good 4 hours from ANY airport and ended up landing at some airport in northern Japan. They parked us far away from the terminal and deplaned us via buses. On the way out I was able to view the open cargo hold and saw much smoke damage. I later found out via the NTSB that “a small lithium based battery being transported in checked baggage in the cargo hold ignited destroying the contents of a baggage container. The resulting fire was contained in flight as a result of the aircraft fire suppression equipment in the baggage hold”. I had only carry-on baggage but apparently, most everyone who had checked baggage lost their luggage.

These personal experiences drove home for me that, because of their extremely high energy density and relative fragility of Lithium based batteries, they are a serious hazard and one should take every precaution to transport them safely and certainly never try to transport them on airplanes without following airline rules for packaging and declaration to the “T”. It could save your life and that of others.

Thanks for reading,

Chris 20th January 2024 - 7:06 pm

Great to read this. As an airline pilot and a flyer of quads, I’m always concerned about passengers travelling with lithium batteries.

Ben Portman 14th July 2016 - 10:07 pm

Hi Oscar, I found when I went abroad with a quad the rules were very vague, almost up to the carrier themselves, I took a 160 sized quad and those batteries I brought of you! I phoned the airline ahead of even planing how to pack the quad and was expecting to have to carry the lipos in hand luggage. It all went in the hold in a flight case I’d brought, they didn’t seem bothered at all. I think for the smaller quads you’ve got to think the lipos are smaller than a laptops…..
They just stuck a fragile sticker on it and it was all good.

Oscar 17th July 2016 - 3:42 pm

Hi Ben

yea the whole thing is new to everyone and nothing seems to be standardised yet. but it wouldn’t hurt to be a bit more prepared i guess :)

Thomas 14th July 2016 - 9:21 pm

thanks guys! But would you recommend running around on an airport with two quads attached to the back of my backpack?

Oscar 17th July 2016 - 3:38 pm

I have seen some people do it, but I would recommend putting them in a bag so they don’t get stolen or lost.