There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport and being held up by airport security because you’ve accidentally packed an item you cannot take onto an airplane.
Sometimes this can get a little confusing though; we all have everyday items we would like to take with us on our trip – so what do we do with these?
One such common item is lighters.
Whether we use them for utility purposes or for lighting tobacco, they’re a handy little tool that so many of us carry around indiscriminately.
But what are the rules regarding bringing them onto airplanes? Can you bring a lighter on a plane? Take a look at this guide to avoid being caught out on your next trip.
So, can you take a lighter onto an airplane?
Surprisingly for some, the short answer yes. According to the TSA, you can take a lighter on a plane – but with some restrictions.
The Transport Security Administration (TSA) allows for lighters to be taken onto an airplane. The lighters have to be either disposable or a flip lighter.
With the exception detailed below, these lighters must be non-fuelled. These lighters can be kept on your own person, in your carry-on baggage, or in your checked baggage.
It is imperative to remember that lighter fuel is generally completely prohibited. More information on this coming up.
What lighters does this rule include?
It is important to note exactly what kind of lighters are covered by this wording. Flip lighters are permitted. These are commonly known as ‘Zippo’ lighters, named after the leading brand.
They require lighter fluid to work, but airlines do not allow this fluid on board airplanes under most circumstances. When purchased, Zippo lighters do not come with lighter fluid included, so you can buy one at the airport itself and take it on board if required.
Disposable lighters, such as the widely-used BIC lighters, are also allowed on planes. The same rule applies though – they must not contain lighter fuel.
Are there any exceptions to this rule?
Yes, there is a deviation to the general TSA rules on lighter fluid.
Passengers are permitted to bring up to two fuelled lighters on board, providing they are enclosed in a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved case throughout the duration of the flight. They must also be kept on your own person, or in your carry-on luggage.
They are not allowed in your checked luggage. The main reason for this is to avoid any lighter fuel leaks. The fluid is highly flammable and unsafe to leave in the pressurized checked baggage compartment.
DOT-approved case? What is that?
A DOT-approved case is essentially a small, hard box with a foam interior that can hold a lighter inside. This box should not be opened throughout the duration of the flight.
Both lighter companies and other specialist brands have produced their own cases, so passengers have a choice of which one to buy. Popular brands include Zippo’s own and Colibri.
Just be careful though and make sure the one you opt to purchase is DOT-approved. Usually, this will be advertised before the point of purchase. They will also have a DOT-approved special permit number affixed to the case.
What other lighters can I expressly not take?
Torch lighters are prohibited. Torch lighters have a powerful, thin flame that reaches much hotter temperatures than regular lighter fluid. These are usually used for lighting cigars.
Unlike disposable lighters or Zippos, the torch lighters maintain a consistent air-propelled flame no matter what angle it is held at.
Torch lighters are not allowed to be taken onto the aircraft in the checked baggage, your carry-on bag, or your own person.
Micro-torches, chef torches, and utility torches also fall under this rule and are completely prohibited from the aircraft.
USB rechargeable lighters are also not permitted.
Can I take my cigarettes with me?
There is no regulation against taking cigarettes or cigars onto an airplane. The TSA explicitly allows them to be taken both in your checked bag and your carry-on bag.
You can also keep them on your person, but actually using them is a different story though – you can’t smoke on passenger airplanes! As per the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the same rule also applies to e-cigarettes and vaping devices.
You will also need to be mindful of the amount of tobacco products you are traveling with.
The TSA itself doesn’t limit this, but be careful when traveling abroad as local customs checks frequently restrict how much you may bring into the country. The US customs will allow up to 200 cigarettes to be brought in, but different countries have different allowances.
What about matches?
One singular box of safety matches can also be taken on board – but not of the ‘strike anywhere’ variety. These have to be either on your own person, or in your carry-on bag. They can’t be placed in the checked baggage.
Got it… I think?
There’s a lot of information here, but really it’s quite straightforward.
To review the rules:
- Non-fuelled disposable or Zippo lighters can be taken in your checked or carry-on luggage, or on your own person
- Two fuelled lighters can be taken on board provided they are inside a DOT-approved case and inside your carry-on bag, or on your own person
- Torch lighters are prohibited
- Cigarettes and cigars are permitted to be taken on board – but use of them is prohibited
- A box of safety matches may be taken on board, but not of the ‘strike anywhere’ variety
The rules outlined here are from the TSA and FAA, but it’s always worth checking with your airline to see if they have any specific company policies. You can find their current policies on restricted items on their websites.
Here are a few frequently-used airlines’ policies:
Don’t get caught out!
So there you have it.
Generally speaking, lighters are permitted on board airplanes – just make sure you don’t take lighter fluid on with you too. If you do want to travel with lighter fluid, a DOT-approved case would be a good investment for your next trip.