When preparing for a flight, especially a long one, one of the things at the forefront of most minds is feeling fresh. Invariably, a wash-kit is packed so that you can disembark looking and feeling ready.
But what if you have forgotten to pack toothpaste? After all, bad breath is not something that most people aspire to.
Or what if you are a smoker and the prospect of a long flight without a hit of nicotine is just too daunting? What can you do to stave off those cravings?
Well, the trusty backup is chewing gum. Whether it is used to freshen breath or as a nicotine replacement, gum is a staple of modern life. But; can you bring gum on a plane?
Does TSA allow gums on a plane?
According to TSA, gums are allowed on planes in both carry-on and checked bags.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been protecting the transportation systems of the USA since 2001. The agency has a list of items that can or cannot be brought onto a flight.
What about gums on international flights?
It is not just TSA that allows gum on planes, most international flights will allow gum on a plane.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a United Nations specialized agency tasked with standardizing international air transport policies. They do not limit the carrying of chewing gum on international flights.
Despite this, you should always double-check the rules of the airline you are flying with. Usually, an airline will send a list of what you cannot carry once you have confirmed your flight.
Here are some links to popular airlines and their prohibited goods.
It also pays to check that your destination country will allow certain goods and products in. “What, even chewing gum?” you ask…
Which countries do not allow chewing gums?
Believe it or not, Singapore banned the sale of and import of chewing gum in 1992.
This was to clean up littered streets and to fight a spate of incidents where chewing gum had been stuck to the door sensors of MRT (subway) carriages; causing delays and a financial burden to the government.
In 2004, on the back of the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, Singapore allowed that therapeutic gum – nicotine gum or sugar-free/dental gum – could be sold if it was prescribed by a dentist or doctor.
Singapore is not the only country with restrictions on gum.
Whilst gum is not illegal in Japan, it is seen as supremely bad manners to chew gum when in the presence of an elder or someone of seniority. So just remember that if you are heading to the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’.
Why chew gum on a flight?
Using gum on a flight is not just about dodging the halitosis (bad breath) bullet. It has been said that chewing whilst flying can aid with equalizing ears. If you are a scuba diver, the term ‘equalizing’ will be familiar to you.
As we take off and land, the air pressure changes. This change affects our ears and sinuses, so to compensate we must ‘equalize’ – balance the air pressure in our ears. The chewing – mastication – motion opens up the Eustachian tubes, which relieves discomfort and helps to avoid barotrauma.
Other techniques to equalize include swallowing, yawning, wiggling the jaw from side to side, or the valsava technique.
Some airlines still hand out hard candy prior to taking off. Eating or sucking on a hard candy encourages swallowing, which opens up the Eustachian tubes. Hard candy is permitted by the TSA on flights.
Can I use nicotine gums on a flight?
Nicotine gum is permitted on flights. You can take it as a carry-on or in checked luggage.
There are no restrictions on the volume of nicotine gum that you can carry and it should pass through screening without issue.
Therefore, the only alternative for smokers is to use nicotine replacement products.
How to use nicotine gums on a flight
Nicotine gum works by releasing nicotine to your body so that withdrawal symptoms are lessened during periods that you cannot smoke.
You shouldn’t chew nicotine gum like regular chewing gum. There are techniques to ensure that your nicotine gum is used effectively, as well as making sure that you have the right dose.
Based on your daily use of cigarettes, nicotine gums comes in different strength. If you are not sure what is right for you, check with your doctor or a healthcare professional.
To get the most from your gum, chew the gum a little then let it sit in your mouth between your gums and teeth. This is widely known as the ‘chew and park’ method. Chew until there is a peppery sensation in your mouth, then ‘park’ the gum.
Repeat this action for about 30 minutes until the sensation has ceased. It takes a little bit longer for the nicotine to hit your brain with gum than smoking, so give it a chance to work.
Wrapping it up…
Hopefully, your questions about taking gum on a flight have been answered.
There are a couple of things still to consider when using gum on a flight:
- Always dispose of your gum thoughtfully and consciously.
- If using nicotine gum, only use one piece at a time.
- Whilst nicotine gum has no volume restrictions, the carry on 100ml rule will still apply for liquid nicotine replacement products.
- The final decision for anything to proceed through airport security rests with a TSA or Airport Security Officer.
So, in the words of Wrigley’s, taking gum on a flight may well ‘Double your pleasure (and) double your fun’.