Are RC Cars Allowed On Airplanes?


Are RC Cars Allowed On Airplanes?

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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.

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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
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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. 

Tips for Protecting Your RC Car On a Trip

You surely don’t want your RC car to get damaged when you are on a trip. There are tips to help you make sure that the car is carried in cool and safe conditions, and is protected from any damages. Here are some of those tips to keep in mind:

  • Use bubble wrap

Bubble wrap is a great option when you want to keep anything safe from direct shock. If you have any around, you should use this to package your remote control car to keep it secure. If you don’t have any, you can always pick some up from your local store.

  • Don’t leave the batteries in the vehicle
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Here’s an important tip you’ve probably heard before but, it’s still an important tip. Whether you’re taking your remote control car on a plane or even a car, you should remove the batteries and pack them separately. This is a way to make sure that the vehicle is safe from fire, and in the event of any, you can easily and quickly sort it out.

It will also help to keep your batteries from losing any of their charge and will keep the car from accidentally getting turned on while it is being moved around. 

  • Put it in a box

It’s not safe to leave your RC car without any protection. If you leave it out in the open it will most likely  get scratched or damaged, and you sure do not want that. Fill a large cardboard box with packing materials, and then you can put your RC car in. Topping off with soft material is a great way to make sure that the car has enough cushion to protect it from damage. 

Of course this is a little bit of overkill but if you are going a long distance or your car is particularly valuable then having it in a box will offer some additional protection. 

Conclusion

You can definitely take your RC car with you on a plane but it is important to know all of the rules and regulations before you go. Specifically you will want to know the size of your RC car’s batteries to make sure that you know which guidelines that they fall under. 

If you know what you are talking about then when a TSA agent asks you about the Watt Hours of your batteries you can answer properly and with confidence. Knowing what the rules are and what you are talking about will make your trip much more enjoyable as you won’t have to worry about whether you are following the rules or not. 

Matt Robbs

I love to spend time with my wife and 3 kids. There is no better way to get them off the couch and outside than for us to grab the RC cars or boat and enjoy the sunshine!

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