How Many Smartphones Can You Carry On a Plane?

How Many Smartphones Can You Carry On a Plane
Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

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It is not very uncommon to own more than just one smartphone in the era that itself is coined as ‘digital’. When you are on a trip, whether for pleasure or business, you may require the extra set of smartphones that you own. But are you allowed to carry more than one smartphone on the plane? And, how many smartphones can you carry on the plane?

We shall discuss the same in elaboration in this article.

How many smartphones can you carry on a plane?

Surprisingly when it comes to the number of smartphones you can carry on a plane, there is no single body that dictates the rules. In gist, it all truly depends on the most authoritative body in the country you are travelling to, and the airline you are flying with, of course.

For example, even if you are allowed to carry three smartphones on the plane, because the airline allows it, and so does the customs regulating body in your country (the country you are flying from), it is possible that the customs overseas, at your destination, do not allow more than two phones per individual traveller/ In that case, you might have to abandon the seemingly ‘extra’ phone you brought with you.

According to TSA:

TSA has always been known to set up bizarre rules (and justifiably so) like allowing only an empty water bottle on the plane, while you can bring a whole-sized watermelon, without the TSA batting an eye over it. However, you will notice the number of smartphones you can carry on the plane is one segment where the TSA is not so tight on rules.

Below is what the TSA has to say over the number of smartphones that a passenger can carry on the plane. 

In Carry-On

TSA states that there is no limit to the number of smartphones you can carry on the plane. However, it is important to note that although TSA allows carrying an unlimited number of smartphones as carry-on, if the airline has a set limit (which most airlines have), it would hardly matter what TSA has to say about the number of smartphones you can carry.

In Checked-in Luggage

As said, TSA is not as rigid as it is on other items that go in the checked-in baggage when it comes to carrying smartphones in the checked-in luggage. According to the TSA, you can pack as many phones as you want in your checked-in baggage.

 

According to FAA:

The Federation Aviation Administration, or FAA too, gets a say in the number of smartphones you can carry on a plane.

In Carry-On

If you are carrying smartphones on a plane for ‘personal use’, there is no limit to the number of smartphones you can carry with you as carry-on. However, the FAA makes it clear that items that are meant for resale or distribution are not considered personal items. 

Therefore, if you are carrying an odd number of smartphones on the plane for resale or distribution later, there is a limit to how many you carry with you. 

Note: Although there is no quantity limit on smartphones (as personal items) that you can carry in the hand baggage or as carry-on, there is a limit to large lithium-ion batteries and spare non-spillable wet batteries that you carry on the plane.

These lithium-ion batteries, as well as spare non-spillable wet batteries such as gel cells, and absorbed electrolytes, are limited to two per person.

In Checked-in Luggage

Again, the FAA does not limit the number of phones that you can carry with you in checked-in luggage. Yes, there has been a hoax that the FAA has banned smartphones and all portable electronic devices with lithium-powered batteries in the checked-in luggage altogether. However that is not true.

FAA states that “Devices containing lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) should be carried in carry-on baggage when possible”. 

This means that you should only be carrying your smartphones, as well as other lithium-powered electronics, in the checked-in baggage only when it is absolutely necessary.

Besides, when carrying smartphones in the checked-in baggage, the FAA makes it imperative for the passengers to power off the smartphones and pack them with utmost protection so that there are no chances for accidental activation or damage to the smartphones while in the cargo hold.

 

According to Airlines:

Towards the end, even if TSA or any other regulatory body allows X number of smartphones on the plane, it is the airline’s call to make as to how many smartphones each passenger can carry on the plane.

In Carry-On

Most airlines allow each passenger to carry two smartphones at the least. It is only obvious since a large portion of passengers, especially those flying for business purposes, carry more than just one phone on the plane.

There is no hardbound rule consistent with all airlines, however. The smartphone policies vary from one airline to another.

For example, American Airlines allows only two smartphones for personal use in hand luggage. 

Delta Airlines, on the other hand, allows upto 15 electronic devices that can be brought into the cabin as carry-on. These 15 devices can be anything from 15 laptops to 15 phones (which is highly uncalled for), but collectively, if you are carrying an extensive list of electronic devices with you on the plane, make sure they do not exceed the limit as set by the airline.

In Checked-in Luggage

Again, depending on the airline you are travelling with, the number of smartphones you can carry in the checked-in baggage varies.

It is worth noting that an escalated number of airlines do not allow smartphones in the checked baggage any more.

Almost every other airline in the U.S. has banned phones from checked-in baggage. But why? We are sure you have heard of batteries exploding in the cargo hold mid-air every now and then. Smartphones containing lithium batteries are therefore prohibited from being packed into checked-in luggage so as to prevent any damage in the cargo hold.

This rule is not just limited to smartphones, but any other electronic devices that use lithium batteries, be it dry lithium batteries, lithium-ion batteries, or lithium metal batteries. 

Except for U.S. based airlines, a number of airlines allow carrying smartphones in the checked baggage. However, you can soon expect others to follow behind, banning smartphones in the cargo hold for good.

 

Conclusion

Typically, you are allowed to carry more than one smartphone on the plane with you. What ‘more than one’ depicts is subjective to the airline you are travelling with; thus, make sure to go through their policies before carrying any more than two smartphones with you.

Generally, almost every airline allows passengers to carry two smartphones with them on a plane as a carry-on. It is always advised to carry your smartphones as carry-ons in the cabin and not as a part of checked baggage. 

Besides a number of airlines banning smartphones from the cargo hold, even if your airline does not ban smartphones from being a part of the checked baggage, it is ideal to carry them in the hand baggage to avoid a data breach, loss of the phones in case of baggage theft, etc.

 

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