It was just a couple days ago that we were warned via a Department of Transportation (DOT) press release that loose lithium batteries would no longer be allowed in checked airline baggage.
According to a DOT spokesman, that wording was a little ambiguous. It seems the checked baggage ban is directed only at large lithium batteries, those in the 8-25 gram equivalent range.
After doing the math you will find even high-end digital SLRs, like the Nikon D3 and Canon 1Ds MKlll, use lithium-ion batteries that are below 2.5 gram equivalent.
The DOT is currently working on a new press release that clarifies what they meant to say in the first release; that release should be out tomorrow.
So what happens when TSA screeners see loose AA lithium batteries in your checked baggage? Nothing. According to TSA spokesman Christopher White, “We are focused on security issues, and this is not a security issue.”
So pack your bags and feel free to take along your extra digital camera batteries, but keep in mind that all batteries are a potential fire hazard. SafeTravel.dot.gov has more information on how to travel safely with spare batteries.