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Are you thinking about taking your remote control car with you on a trip and wondering if it will be allowed on the airplane? Here’s the answer you need to help you make proper preparations for your trip.
Generally, remote control cars are allowed on airplanes however there are certain precautions that you have to take with the batteries (if electric) or fuel (if nitro or gas powered). Most of the time if your RC car uses fuel it is virtually impossible to take it on the plane as all signs of the fuel must be gone from the vehicle before you can fly with it. With an electric RC car there are specific rules for the batteries that must be followed that can be found on the TSA’s website.
The TSA has different rules for batteries with over 100 watt hours and under 100 watt hours the different rules can be found below.
Of course the above information leads to the next question… how do you know how many watt hours your battery is. The formula for figuring a battery’s watt hours is mAh X (times) Volts divided by 1,000 = Watt Hours. You can also find a handy calculator here.
So let’s say that you have a 5,800 mAh battery that is 7.4V. That battery will have a watt hours of 42.92 which means it falls under the guidelines of the less than 100 watt hours rule. For that rule you can have the battery in the device in either checked luggage or a carry on.
Any spare batteries for your RC vehicle must be in your carry on luggage but there is no limit on the number of spare batteries that you can carry as long as they are under the 100 watt hours and are for personal use.
Of course those rules about the batteries are if you are traveling in the USA. What if you are traveling overseas?
Location is an important factor
The regulations on an airplane concerning a remote control car may differ depending on where you’re going to or coming from.
According to the TSA, remote control cars are allowed in US domestic flights, in checked and carry on bags. This is only for US domestic flights. It’s always best to check with the airport you are flying into and the countries rules to know what their policies are on flying with a remote control car.
You should also keep in mind that, even though a lot of airports and the TSA may approve of RC cars, the airport officers will make the final decision on whether or not your RC car can get on the plane with you.
Every single country will have different rules about flying with RC cars and specifically their batteries so be sure and call ahead a long time in advance to save yourself the headache of your car being confiscated or a long ordeal at the airport.
How to Protect Your RC Car from Confiscation
The truth is, TSA officers can be very paranoid a lot of times. If they don’t feel very comfortable with your RC car for whatever reasons, it is possible that they might confiscate it. To prevent this from happening, here are a few things you can do:
- Cover up any exposed wiring
It’s going to look like a red flag to the TSA officers if your RC car has a lot of its wiring or internal components exposed. After all, it’s easy to believe that what you’re carrying is a disguised explosive.
To prevent this, ensure that all stray cables are inside the frame of the car and are in good condition. Being able to turn on the RC car and use it if you are requested is a great way to prove that there is nothing suspicious about it. Additionally, make sure to tightly screw back any parts of the vehicle that you may have unscrewed in the past. It is also a good idea to check for broken plastic and anything else that might be sharp or considered unsafe by a TSA agent.
- Remove the batteries from the controller
As already mentioned several times, you can take batteries on board with you in your devices or separately but having your batteries separate is never a bad idea since they have a tendency to look funny when going through an X-Ray machine. Having them already out of the controller can make the process a lot easier.
- Check your RC car and batteries
Another wise thing to do is to store the car and the controller in your checked luggage. TSA tends to be more restrictive with what is allowed on a carry-on bag and you will often get less hassles when your RC car is in your checked luggage instead. . While officially they are allowed to be stored in your carry on, I personally would recommend that you put it in the checked luggage where it’s less likely to be a hassle when going through security.
- If possible, leave your nitro RC car at home
Electric RC cars are less likely to get confiscated compared to gas models. You’re never totally sure whether a nitro RC car will be ok as it is very easy for there to be a little bit of fuel left inside even after you’ve emptied the tank and run the motor.
If you have a nitro model RC car, therefore, TSA may not let you get on the plane with it.Not even a single drop of gas will be allowed on the airplane because of its potential to cause a fire or explode so unless you have a brand new nitro car leaving it at home is the best option.
For some additional tips on flying with an RC car check out the video below.