Can I fly with an electric unicycle?

There are two major players that determine if you can fly with your electric unicycle. It’s the TSA/ FAA with the rules governing what is allowed when flying and then it’s the rule of the individual airlines such as Delta, Southwest, United, Jet Blue. In short, the answer is

No, you can technically not fly with most electric unicycles on the market. The battery of a EUC is typically more than the limit set by the FAA of <160 Wh. Also according to ITIA, many airlines have implemented a total prohibition on the carriage of self-balancing vehicles in passenger baggage.

Keep in mind that the airline and TSA still have the right to deny you from flying with your EUC.

Please note that this post is related to TSA and FAA regulations only and not all individual airlines. Users have reported that TSA agents can and have stopped Onewheels that were within the allowed limits from flying.

What if you battery is below 160Wh

Some electric unicycles like the Inmotion V3Pro have a battery just below the TSA limit. Some users have passed the TSA and board planes with their devices. The key here is to make it possible for the inspector to verify the capacity of the battery. Some have even removed the battery from the unicycle for inspection. 

Other riders have had lesser luck and have not even been allowed to board a plane with an empty wheel. 

The issue isn’t what the airline chooses they will or won’t transport, but rather the variation/discretion of each individual airline employee about how they interpret and enforce airline rules. It makes it impossible to predict. You can read an airline’s terms & conditions in text and/or call and get a direct answer to a question over the phone, and then some airline employee turns around and says the rule is different or enforces it differently when you get to the airport/plane.

Reading the guidelines TSA/FAA states that the airline is making the final decision. What’s governed by the regulations is the amount of active Lithium inside the battery, and the Onewheel Pint is below that for carry-on luggage.

With airline approval, devices can contain larger lithium-ion batteries (101-160 watt-hours per battery), but spares of this size are limited to two batteries in carry-on baggage only. This size covers the largest aftermarket extended-life laptop batteries and most lithium-ion batteries for professional-grade audio/visual equipment.

FAA.gov

The key is to be positive and provide relevant information to the TSA agents when questioned. I recommend having any documents printed out and handy if you need to show them to the agent.

When flying the main goal should be getting through TSA. Be prepared to answer any question and remember to show that this device isn’t specifically prohibited by the FAA and that it uses a safe battery that is under 160 wh. Remember to tell them that you have researched the device to make sure it is within the FAA guidelines.

It is normal for the TSA agents to want to see the wattage on your battery to confirm that it’s within the limits. It’s a good idea to package your EUCin a duffle bag or something that completely cover it. Since the airlines themselves aren’t checking what’s inside carry-on bags, they don’t actually have much influence on this process after you have passed the TSA.

Airlines baning Electric Unicycles and PEV

The issue comes that more and more commercial airlines signed a ban on PEV (EUC/hover boards and such) no matter battery size. This is to avoid discussion or differences between employees at check-in. Even with the battery pack uninstalled. 

The following operators (airlines) have implemented a total prohibition on the carriage of balance wheels, hoverboards and other self-balancing vehicles in passenger baggage. This list is current as at 13 January 2016 

AirlineCodeAirlineCode
Adria AirwaysJPFinnair AY 
Aegean AirlinesA3FlyBE BE 
Aer Lingus EIGaruda GA 
Aerolineas Argentinas AR Gulf Air GF 
Air AstanaKC Hawaiian Airlines HA 
Air AustralUU Hong Kong Airlines HX 
Air BerlinAB Iberia IB 
AircalinSB Insel Air 7I 
Air Canada AC Japan Airlines JL 
Air France AFJet Airways 9W 
Air New Zealand NZ JetBlue B6
Air Seychelles HM Jetstar JQ 
Air Tahiti VT KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines KL 
Air Transat TS Korean Airlines KE 
Alaska Airlines AS LAN Airlines Group LA 
Alitalia AZ Lufthansa LH LH 
All Nippon NH Malaysia Airlines MH 
American Airlines AA Middle East Airlines ME 
Asiana OZ Monarch ZB 
Austrian Airlines OS Oman Air WY 
Avianca AV Philippine Airlines PR 
Bangkok Airways PG Qantas QF 
British Airways BA Qatar Airways QR 
Brussels Airlines SN SAS SK 
Cathay Pacific CX Saudi Arabian Airlines SV 
China Airlines CI Singapore Airlines SQ 
Condor DE South African Airlines SA 
Copa Airlines CM Southwest Airlines WN 
Corsair SS Sri Lankan Airlines UL 
Croatia Airlines OU Swiss International LX 
Delta Airlines DL TAM Airlines JJ 
Dragonair KA Thai Airways TG 
Easyjet U2 Thomas Cook DK/HQ/MT 
El Al LY Thomson Airways BY 
Emirates EK Transportes Aereos del Mercosur 
Etihad EY Turkish Airlines TK 
Eva Airways BR United Airlines UA 
Fiji Airways FJ Virgin Australia VA
The following operators (airlines) have implemented a total prohibition on the carriage of balance wheels, hoverboards and other self-balancing vehicles in passenger baggage. This list is current as at 13 January 2016 [source]

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 

​From 57 founding members in 1945, IATA now represents some 290 airlines in 120 countries. Carrying 83% of the world’s air traffic, IATA members include the world’s leading passenger and cargo airlines.

Documentation

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), large lithium-ion batteries between 101-160 watt-hours are permitted “with airline approval.”  (www.faa.gov)

For a lithium ion battery, the Watt-hour rating must not exceed 100 Wh. With the approval of the operator, portable electronic devices may contain lithium ion batteries exceeding 100 Wh, but not exceeding 160 Wh and no more than two individually protected lithium ion batteries each exceeding 100 Wh, but not exceeding 160 Wh, may be carried per person as spare batteries in carry-on baggage.

 FAA: 49 CFR 175.10(a)(18)(ii)

According to the US Department of Transportation, “Lithium-Ion Battery, installed in a device (more than 100 but less than 160 watt-hours). Operator approval required” is permitted: (www.phmsa.dot.gov)

Can I take my Electric Unicycle on a plane

No, You cannot take most Electric Unicucles onto a plane as carry-on baggage. This is because of the lithium batteries inside and governed by the TSA that follows the FAA guidelines regarding flying. The Electric Unicycles are regulated as a large battery and therefore prohibited from being carried onto the plane.

Can you checkin a Electric Unicycle

No, You definitely can’t travel with a Electric Unicycle as checked-in baggage, the lithium batteries are considered a dangerous item and can only be carried onboard.

Baggage equipped with lithium batteries must be carried as carry-on baggage unless the batteries are removed from the baggage. Removed batteries must be carried in accordance with the provision for spare batteries.

FAA

Rent a Electric Unicycle instead of flying

If you are not feeling comfortable flying with your EUC another option is to rent one. Today there are multiple options out there. Most major cities have got a rental shop and more are popping up both in the US and around the world. This is my recommendation instead of taking the risk with your EUC.

2020 IATA Lithium Battery Guidance: Transport of Lithium Metal and Lithium Ion Batteries (PDF)

Can you fly with other PEV

Here is a list of more reading around other PEV on the market.

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