Hoverboards, this season’s hot holiday gift, banned from airline transport

While many Americans focus on holiday activity and the shopping often attendant to that, one product that might be on people’s “get list” looks like it may run into logistics trouble arriving under the tree.  On Thursday, December 10th US media outlets like The Washington Post and CNN reported that major US airlines including United, American, Delta, and Jet Blue joined offshore airlines like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Lufthansa in immediately banning air transport of the so called “hoverboard.”  A hoverboard is loosely defined as a handleless scooter that is controlled by a rider’s body movements.  The new technology item has recently become popular with young people account it being featured on social media and seen in use by a variety of well known youth-focused celebrities.  It should be noted that at press time that the websites of the American airlines noted above do not feature any current information about a ban, however.

Over the last few months, hoverboards have been subject to scrutiny by consumer safety agencies on account of an apparently increasing number of fires originating in the unit’s lithium ion batteries.  The rechargeable energy cells are the primary power source for the product.  Currently hoverboards are mainly produced in the People’s Republic of China.

Is this setting a precedent?

One interesting question which comes immediately to mind is how this may impact the differentiation of products classed as UN3481 “Lithium Ion Batteries contained in or packed with equipment.”  The ban currently being imposed on hoverboards as a specific item may set a precedent under which shipment of such items under generic UN ID#’s and proper shipping name may become more complex.

In the meantime, here is a useful link to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission’s (USCPSC) website.  This site should present any official government action that may be taken in reference to consumer protection or advice regarding these suddenly controversial products:


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