25 Jun How to Travel by Plane with an Electric Longboard
Boarding airplanes with personal mobility devices has been a hot topic for a while now. Even more so since the rules seem to change on a monthly basis. These changes have even resulted in various companies going out of business.
These ever-changing regulations have put electric skateboard owners who want to travel in a particularly tough situation. A lot of airlines are starting to ban them from bringing their board on the plane and even in checked baggage. Mostly this has to do with batteries (but more on that later).
We’re here to say that despite horror stories that you might have heard, YES, it is still possible to travel by plane with an electric skateboard. You just need to know exactly what you’re doing.
This article is intended to help explain the current situation with airlines and equip you with the proper knowledge. You’ll understand why airlines are so strict on electric skateboards and how you can navigate the sometimes confusing rules.
With the right preparation and correct conditions, you should be flying with your electric skateboard or longboard soon enough.
What’s the problem?
Obviously, there are some regulations to respect when it comes to traveling with an electric skateboard by plane.
The first thing you should know is that most airlines are very strict about lithium-ion batteries. Practically every one of them requires that batteries be put in check-in luggage. This is why passengers are required to bring personal electronics, like laptops, phones, cameras, etc, into the cabin.
The reason for the strict monitoring of batteries is that there have been a lot of concerning events where lithium-ion batteries explode. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle a few years ago is a prime example. More recently, OneWheels and hoverboards have also been making a mess.
So, understandably, airlines and the bodies that govern them have decided to crack down hard on traveling with any sort of batteries. Nowadays, you can only bring batteries that are less than 160WH onto the plane with you.
Speaking specifically about electric skateboards, most use lithium-ion batteries as well, which means they are subject to the same scrutiny, if not more. For one reason or another, airlines are just less flexible when it comes to motorized boards, which can make traveling with them difficult…
But not impossible.
Who makes the laws regarding lithium-ion batteries?
Airlines don’t make the rules on whether or not you can or cannot fly with your electric skateboard. They, in conjunction with the TSA, just enforce them.
Federal agencies, like the FAA and EASA are the ones who decide what is and isn’t prohibited onboard airplanes. They write the laws and we are often left to follow and sometimes interrupt them.
Most regulations don’t directly refer to electric skateboards at all either – rather they all pertain to lithium-ion batteries that they use. These are the laws that declare that anything over 160WH is prohibited from flying.
Below are some important associations that you need to be aware of. Each has its own set of rules that should be consulted before you try flying with your electric skateboard or longboard.
- TSA – Transportation Security Administration. These are people scanning your bags, looking for prohibited items, and keeping the peace. Their official site says that two spare batteries may be brought on the plane given they are no more than 160WH and that airline approval is needed.
- FAA – Federal Aviation Administration. The leading organization that makes the laws concerning air travel, at least in the USA. They lay down the initial guidelines for batteries in terms of size, capacity, and wattage. Official documentation is here.
- IATA – International Air Transport Association. Global organization that ensures that all airlines follow similar guidelines. Jurisdiction covers both public transport as well as shipping. Their documentation about batteries can be found here.
- CATSA – The Canadian version of the TSA. Battery guidelines are here.
- CAA (United Kingdom) – Civilian Aviation Authority. The English version of the FAA. Guidelines here.
- EASA – European Aviation Safety Agency. Finally, we have the European Union’s iteration of the FAA. Refer to this webpage for battery-related rules.
What do the airlines say?
Airlines can be quite vague when it comes to specifically transporting electric skateboards or longboards. Some say nothing; a lot just say “no”.
The problem is that, in most cases, electric skateboards fall annoyingly between two different categories of luggage: hoverboards and (standard) skateboards.
Hoverboards, which include balance boards, gravity boards, and self-balancing devices, are strictly banned by ALL major airlines. This is due to reports of terrible, consumer-grade hoverboards catching fire spontaneously.
Skateboards, on the other hand, are usually allowed either as checked luggage or a carry-on. Each airline does have its own rules when it comes to size, dimensions, and additional fees.
So you’d think that simply removing the battery from the board, checking the board in your luggage, and then taking the battery on the plane would be fine. But this is sometimes not enough to dissuade paranoid gate agents.
At the end of the day, the airlines and their agents have the final word. Some are lenient; others have zero-tolerance. Always consult them before attempting to travel with your electric skateboard, either in person or via email. If you say the right words and plead your case, you might be able to travel with your electric skateboard.
Which airlines will most likely say no?
These are the airlines that we found with policies that point-blank say no to bringing electric skateboards on the plane. We’re sharing this list because these are obviously the airlines that are the LEAST likely to accommodate you:
Any airline not mentioned in this list might be more open to someone traveling with their electric skateboard. As usual, this is circumstantial.
Rules and policies are constantly changing. Again, always check with the airline beforehand to see if there is any chance.
How to fly with an electric skateboard
So let’s say you decide to say “screw the odds! I’m feeling like I can succeed at bringing my board on the plane.”
What then do you do?
If you decide to attempt to fly with your electric skateboard, there are some things you can do that will increase the chances of making it. We have prepared a simple step-by-step guide that you should follow before your trip starts.
- Step 1 – Liaison with the airline and gain as much information as possible about the situation. Check their website under the section about dangerous goods/batteries.
- Step 2 – Print out any relevant documentation from the airline and/or governing bodies in case you need to plead your case. Make sure that you bring the battery’s certificates as well.
- Step 3 – Decide if you can and want to carry your electric skateboard in the cabin or in the check-in luggage.
- Step 4 – If you bring the board with you in the cabin, have the proper backpack. If you put the board in check-in luggage, make sure to remove the battery. Here’s a video for removing Linky’s.
- Step 5 – Stow the battery properly in the cabin. If it can fit under the seat in front of you, do that. Otherwise, leave it in the overhead. Spare batteries within 160WH are generally allowed in the cabin by airlines.
- Step 6 – Always be warm and respectful with airline staff. They can either make your life easy or very, very hard.
What’s the best electric skateboard to fly with?
Before you even begin to consider traveling with your electric skateboard, you need to make sure it is relatively compact and has a detachable battery that is less than 160WH.
If your board has none of these, then things won’t be easy for you.
There are a lot of electric skateboards to choose from these days. Most of them weren’t designed with airline travel in mind.
One of the biggest reasons that makes Linky unique in the electric skateboard industry is its outstanding compactness. With its solid foldable system, you just squeeze it into your backpack when your ride is finished.
A lot of our customers are happily using Linky for commuting in cities, but more and more people are starting to travel with it. Thanks to its extremely compact dimensions and lightness, we believe Linky is the best electric skateboard to travel with. Owners have the greatest odds of bringing their board on the plane and we can confirm that lots of people have done so already.
Linky’s battery is 125W, removable, and also has the right paperwork. Therefore you will face fewer issues when flying with your board. Just make sure that you know what to do!
How long can my skateboard be?
All airlines have their own policies when it comes to the maximum length of carry-on luggage. Generally speaking though, an item should be no more than 22″ x 14″ x 9″ as per FAA suggestions.
That means that most skateboards and definitely longboards are not going to be able to come in the cabin with you. Most likely, you’ll probably have to check your board; the max length of checked baggage is 62 inches. Some longboards may still not be short enough for this though.
This is where Linky really shines. When folded, the board becomes a super-compact 15” x 11” x 4.5” – perfect for a carry-on. If the gate agents allow you to travel with your board, you should have no problem getting into the cabin itself.
What are the alternatives to traveling with an electric skateboard
If you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to bring your electric skateboard on a plane, you do have other options.
Use another form of transport
Airlines are the strictest when it comes to traveling with electric skateboards and their batteries. Rail companies, ground transport, and rental agencies, on the other hand, care a lot less about how big of a battery you have – practically not at all it seems.
Our favorite way to travel is definitely by train. Being able to take advantage of the amazing rail network here in Italy (and the lax rules) means we can travel just about anywhere with our board. Feels good to hop out of the cabin, extend the board, and then take off on the streets!
If you haven’t traveled to Europe before with an electric skateboard or even an e-bike, we highly recommend it.
Renting an electric longboard
This is not so common, even in larger cities. But that doesn’t mean the option doesn’t exist. Try looking for rental agencies on Google Maps or use lending sites like FriendWithA… to see if there is an available board near you.
Shipping the board
Using a courier service, like FedEx, DHL, or UPS, to send your board ahead of you while you’re traveling is a totally viable option. We use FedEx ourselves and can say that they are fairly reliable.
You ought to be aware of a few things when shipping your electric skateboard though:
- Couriers have wattage limits as well – Similar to the airlines, a shipping company won’t take a battery over a certain wattage. The batteries will also need to be packed a certain way to avoid being damaged. Ask whatever company you are planning on using ahead of time what their standards are in regards to shipping batteries.
- It’ll be expensive – It is not cheap to ship anything overseas let alone a heavy piece of equipment like a board. Be prepared to pay a pretty penny if you choose to do so.
- Customs – Even though your board is a personal item – thus saving the hassle of having to pay duties – it never fails that a customs officer misreads the label and charges something extra. Any unnecessary charges can of course be disputed and reversed, but this will take time. And clearing customs already takes a while in the first place!
Ultimately, it IS possible to travel by plane with an electric skateboard. We’ve done it, our clients have done it, and a lot more people for that matter, we’re sure.
In order to succeed though, you’ll need to make sure of some things:
- Invest in the proper board and battery.
- Know the rules and regulations of airlines and transport regulators.
- Choose the right airline to fly with.
- Comply with all of the policies and do your best to explain your situation.
Do it right whilst being respectful of the rules and the people enforcing them and you will increase your chances of being able to travel with your electric skateboard.
Do you have any success stories of traveling with your board? Know which airlines are most likely to allow you to bring one? Please leave a comment below and let us know any and all experiences you have to share!