Why You Don’t Want to Travel with a Hoverboard
The first time I spotted a hoverboard was from my Taipei hotel room last August. I thought it was cool and dangerous at the same time, but I didn’t know how dangerous they really can be and that more and more airlines, airports and cities would soon be banning them.
A hoverboard or self-balancing electric scooter is just like a Segway but without the handles. It’s been billed as this year’s hottest Christmas gift, but you might not want to buy one just yet. For starters, says CNN Money, “nearly 90% of all hoverboards imported into Britain since the middle of October have been seized because they could explode.” Safety officials have impounded 15,000 of the self-balancing scooters because a faulty plug “increases the risk of the device overheating, exploding or catching fire,” the U.K. National Trading Standards said in a statement. They said the boards could overheat if left plugged in after the batteries are fully recharged due to the lack of a fuse. And in fact retailers as large as Amazon and Target are reconsidering selling them over safety concerns.
And finally because of the battery concern, nearly all of the major airlines have banned hoverboards outright—including many in the past few days. Currently, these are the regulations in place for hoverboards at different US airlines after the latest string of bans:
- Alaska: Banned outright
- American: Banned outright
- Delta: Banned outright
- Frontier: banned outright
- Hawaiian Airlines: Banned outright
- JetBlue: Banned outright
- Southwest: Allowed in checked luggage if battery is under 160 Watt-hours
- United: Banned outright
- Virgin America: Banned outright
Many international airlines have done the same, like Qatar Airways, for example, which banned hoverboards from their planes today.
The FAQ section of the Swagway (the original manufacturer) website recommends not bringing hoverboards as carry-ons and addresses recent safety concerns, as well. Current FAA guidelines state that in a carry-on, “Passengers may carry all consumer-sized lithium ion batteries (up to 100 watt hours per battery). Passengers can also bring two larger lithium ion batteries (100-160 watt hours per battery) in their carry-on.” Most hoverboards contain 36 volt 4.4AH lithium ion batteries, with 158.4Wh.
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