Bringing portable batteries on board flights

Kaisah Wasis

Published: 15 December 2017, 12:13 PM

Should battery-powered mobility aids be allowed on board planes?

Large batteries are usually not allowed on planes, but what if they are for mobility aids?

In a recent incident with Scoot, a battery-powered mobility aid was not allowed on a plane despite it being essential to the passenger.

What's going on?

Due to risk of fire, all airlines have guidelines on batteries being checked in or carried on board. Power banks that contain highly flammable lithium batteries are only allowed on carry-on luggage, and batteries that are more than 160Wh are not allowed on the plane at all. Personal mobility devices (PMDs) such as electric Segways and electric bicycles have lithium batteries that are at least 500Wh.

On Dec 11, Tatiana Clunes, 40, was denied from boarding a plane in Bangkok because her mobility aid was powered by dry cell batteries.

Tatiana suffers from muscle dystrophy with 70 per cent disability in her legs. Clutches are difficult for Tatiana to use so the Chilean relies on an electric scooter to get around.

The incident sparked a discussion online on whether battery-powered mobility aids should be allowed on planes.

According to guidelines on Scoot’s website, Tatiana should have been able to check in her mobility aid, but she was stopped by the flight crew.


Some netizens agree that electric scooters and similar mobility devices should not be allowed on board planes for safety reasons.


Some were unsurprised that Scoot disallowed the electric scooter from being brought on board. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT


Nanyang Polytechnic student Dinie Abyan, 20, said: “The staff at the boarding gate would not make such decisions without reason so we should just follow their instructions. They most likely did it thinking of the public’s safety.”


Some believe that batteries of larger capacities should not be brought on board. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT


Others like Brandon Kung, 20, thought the staff should have shown more empathy as Tatiana needed the electric scooter to get around.

“She needs her scooter in order to get from place to place. She even needs it to get to the boarding gate,” said the Singapore Polytechnic student.

Occupational therapist Batrishiya Dol Rani, 25, agreed: “The electric scooter is essential in her life because of her medical condition. If they take that away from her, she will not be able to move around. The least they could have done was provide her with an alternative.”

What's your take?

1. Should battery-powered mobility aids be allowed on board planes? Why?

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