Beginning January 1, new Department of Transportation rules about lithium and lithium ion batteries in checked and carry-on baggage in airplanes supposedly went into effect. The announcement generated some fevered commentary at the time. This was in part because the rules were in the form of government writing commonly known as bureaucratese, leading a lot of people to think that they were far more onerous than they in fact are. (I discussed the new rules in an earlier posting.)
Well, I recently returned from a trip to California and there's no evidence that the new restrictions are being enforced in any way. No screening. No signs. No notices. Nada. When I arrived home I did some poking around on the Web and, as far as I can tell, nobody else has run across any noteworthy changes to battery screening procedures either. For example, under the new rules, loose batteries are now supposed to be placed in individual plastic bags or otherwise stored in a way that their contacts can't be shorted out. I've seen no evidence that anyone is paying any attention to this requirement.
Your mileage may vary, of course. Especially if you're transporting multiple large batteries for professional video equipment and the like (which is the sort of thing that the rule change really targeted), it may still be worth trying to get some clarification--for whatever good that will do. However, it certainly appears that the government has effectively shelved putting the new safety regulations into practice for the time being.
Does anyone have any experiences to the contrary?