Can You Take An Electric Skateboard On A Plane?
Over the last few years, electric skateboards are becoming more and more popular as a compact, efficient and fun mode of transportation. Their compact size also makes them an ideal travelling companion.
However, before jumping on that board on the way to the airport there may be some regulations that you should be aware of.
Can You Fly With An Electric Skateboard?
There are a number of factors that will affect whether you’ll be allowed to take your electric skateboard with you on a plane. The main things to watch are the size of your board and the batteries that are used to power it.
Also be aware that there are a large number of regulations that are specific for different aviation authorities as well as individual airlines. Meaning just because it’s ok in one place, might not mean it’s the same everywhere. Checking the guidelines of the specific airlines you intend to travel with is a must. There are though some general guidelines to keep in mind before you fly.
My Deck Is Too Big
The general guidelines for carry-on baggage are that the length should not exceed 62 inches (157cm) and should be under 50 pounds (22 Kg). (again this may vary slightly from airline to airline, best to check before you fly).
This means that your awesome top of the range electric longboard is probably not coming with you into the cabin I’m afraid. However, most companies make portable small and mid-sized boards that are well within size restrictions.
If possible, get onto the plane before most of the other passengers so you can stow the board in the overhead bins. Otherwise sliding it under the seat in front of you (upside down!) is fine, as long as it fits. Remember that if you have any issues with airline staff, being polite and accomodating will get you a long way!
Aside from the dimensions of your board, the main factor that will determine if your electric skateboard can fly or not is the battery it uses. Electric skateboards use Lithium-Ion batteries. These are the same rechargeable batteries that are found in most of your electronic devices (such as laptops and phones).
However, an electric skateboard uses considerably more power and takes longer to charge than many of these smaller items, meaning that the batteries are often much bigger. Lithium-Ion batteries level of power is measured in Kilowatt Hours (KWh), basically how much energy the battery uses in a given ‘hour’. The more powerful the battery, the larger the KWh number will be.
Most batteries will have their KWh rating printed somewhere on them, but just in case here’s an easy way to work it out:
Volts x Amp Hours (Ah) = Watt Hours (divide by 1000 for KWh)
Lithium Ion batteries also have to have a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certification for them to be allowed on any form of air transport. This means that your DIY or budget eBay battery might not make it through security.
Almost all aviation authorities share the same restrictions on Lithium-Ion batteries:
If the battery installed battery is between 100-160 KWh then it’s approved for either checked or carry-on baggage(at the discretion of the specific airline). If the battery exceeds 160KWh then it’s completely forbidden.
Here are some links to various civil aviation authorities and their restrictions on Lithium-Ion batteries:
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
International Air Transport Association (IATA)
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
If you have your electric skateboard checked into the hold, then you are also allowed to take a spare battery (under 160Kwh) with you in your cabin baggage. Unfortunately, these ‘regulations’ are just guidelines from civil aviation authorities. The buck stops with the airline your travelling with.
Most airlines find the categorization of electric skateboards very difficult. They technically come under ‘sporting equipment’, but have a massive battery strapped underneath. Which puts them in the realm of ‘hoverboard’. For example in the case of United Airlines, here’s their information on restrictions for recreational self-propelled vehicles, which now includes electric skateboards as well as hoverboards.
Such devices or vehicles include, but aren’t limited to:
Smart balance wheels and boards, such as hoverboards, airboards and skateboards
- Self-balancing wheeled devices such as Ninebot
- Battery-assisted bicycles such as e-bikes
- Wheeled vehicles or motorcycles
- Electrically powered scooters
- Riding or motorized suitcases
‘Hoverboards’ are unfortunately not allowed on most airlines and no matter how much you try to justify that your $2000 professional board is different, the staff at the check-in desk probably have other ideas. However, there is a solution that may still allow you to travel with your electronic board.
If there is a way to remove the battery from your board, you can take it as a ‘normal’ board and store the lithium battery in your carry-on baggage (as long as it’s still under 160Kwh). This may take some polite discussion with the airline staff!
How Should I Pack My Electric Skateboard To Fly?
Take It Apart
How Do You Travel With A Longboard?
A normal ‘non-electric’ longboard (over 62 Inches long) will in most cases have to be put into checked baggage. This way the board will be checked in a similar way to other sports equipment such as skis or golf clubs. Also, be aware that many airlines (especially budget!) will probably charge an ‘oversize’ luggage fee. You might also want to invest in a protective board bag/carrier if you intend to check it in this way. Airline luggage carriers are renowned for not treating sports equipment with a gentle touch.
The difficulty with electric longboards is the inclusion of a lithium-ion battery (discussed above). The easiest solution is to (if possible) remove the lithium-Ion battery and take it on board with you in your cabin bag. If your battery exceeds regulations then another option might be trying to source a battery at your final destination and just taking your board (minus battery) with you.
What Are My Options If My Electronic Skateboard Exceeds Regulations?
If your electric skateboard is just too long and the battery way too powerful, then there are some alternative options to get your board to its final destination:
Travel By Train or Bus
Another option, if you were set on using your own equipment, is that you could post your board to your final destination via a courier company. This would probably suit someone that is staying at their destination for an extended period of time. It’s advisable to shell out for the extra insurance when doing this as there are many horror stories of courier services not treating their packages with the utmost care! Yet another option is to purchase a cheap electric skateboard if you’re staying in the area for a month or two and resell it after.
Electric skateboards are an awesome way of getting around and if you stick to this advice you can’t go far wrong when travelling. In general, being polite and courteous to airline staff will get you a long way … especially when many people associate skateboards with anti-social behaviour!
Make sure you check the size of your battery before travelling and if in doubt try contacting your chosen airline to ask them about their specific regulations. Depending on the airline this may be easier said than done.
And there you have it: everything you need to know about travelling with electric skateboards on aeroplanes.