Passengers are greeted with a new flight restriction from January 1, as the U.S. Transportation Department bars travelers from packing loose lithium batteries in checked luggage.

The U.S. Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said passengers will be required to take loose batteries with them as carry-on luggage and must be packed in plastic bags. The new regulation, has been set in place to reduce the risk of lithium battery fires.

Doing something as simple as keeping a spare battery in its original retail packaging or a plastic zip-lock bag will prevent unintentional short-circuiting and fires, said Krista Edwards, deputy administrator of the PHMSA, in a statement.

Passengers can only take two spare rechargeable lithium batteries if they're stored in plastic bags or if they're in the original retail packaging and each must be packed separately.

The new rule will not apply to lithium batteries that are already installed in electronic devices, such as laptops, cell phones, and cameras as these can be checked in.

Safety testing conducted by the FAA found that current aircraft cargo fire suppression system would not be capable of suppressing a fire if a shipment of non-rechargeable lithium batteries were ignited in flight, the U.S. Transportation Department said.