Can I fly with my electronic cigarette?

Filed in News & Politics by on January 26, 2012

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Can I fly with my electronic cigarette? This is a common question. According to the Official TSA Blog, You can travel on a plane with your electronic cigarette, but just like tobacco cigarettes, you may not use your electronic cigarette aboard any US commercial airliner, whether on the tarmac or during the flight. Airline companies may have their own regulations regarding how you may travel with your e-cig; some may not allow you to stow it in your checked luggage. It is always best to refer to the list prohibited items which is specific to the airline with which you’re flying. Charter flights operate under a different set of rules than commercial airlines and may allow the use of e-cigarettes.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says travelers can pass through airport security with e-cigarettes without restriction. To avoid any issues and / or delays when going through security, it is preferable to place your e-cig inside a carry on. The battery will show on the screens of x-rays and metal detectors at security checkpoints because it is made of aluminum and has a cylinder-like shape; you may or may not be asked to show it for security reasons. You can pack your e-cig items in checked luggage; however, it is both safer and more practical to keep your e-cig in a carry on. In the event your checked luggage goes through further security checks while not in your possession, you run the risk having items confiscated should you not be around to answer questions.

To completely avoid any interaction with TSA officers, it is best to separate the battery from the cartridge and run it through the x-ray with all other small metal objects in your possession and/or inside your pockets. When boarding the plane, you should keep your e-cig inside your carry-on. While e-cigarette vapor does not set off smoke alarms, their use is still forbidden in both the cabin and lavatories. Those found in violation of the no-smoking rules may face mandatory fines, imprisonment and /or be escorted off the plane if still on the ground.

Unless otherwise noted, the use of e-cigarettes is allowed inside most airports. Regulations may vary from one airport to another; however, the use of e-cigs is permitted both prior to boarding as well as after landing at most US airports. Currently, the TSA does not have any blanket ban policy in effect for e-cigarette use inside airports.

While individual airlines, e.g. American Airlines or Jet Blue, have banned the use of electronic cigarettes aboard their flights since February 2011, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed to explicitly ban the use of the devices on all commercial airplanes. DOT believes its current ban on smoking of tobacco products is broad enough to include electronic cigarettes but wants to eliminate any confusion.

The “No Smoking” rule in airplanes has been keeping cabins smoke-free since 1998. Although electronic cigarettes do not give off smoke, they are still a cause of concern and confusion for some passengers.  Therefore, the DOT issued an e-cigarette ban proposal in September 2011 and public comments were accepted until November 2011. Voting on the proposed ban is expected to take place in the upcoming months but no date has been set so far.

The DOT’s proposed rule would apply to all US and foreign airlines on scheduled flights to and from the United States and officials are considering extending the ban on smoking to charter flights. Some non-US airlines permit and even sell e-cigarettes onboard, such as famous European low-cost airline Ryan Air.

So remember, traveling with your e-cigarette is allowed, but just like traditional cigarettes, its use aboard commercial aircrafts is strictly forbidden.

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Comments (45)

  1. Andrew says:

    I recently boarded a plane from Puerto Rico to Dallas Texas. ON that plane I had a stewardess with a name of SOCIAL WORKER on her name tag…. Yet that same person after seeing my E-cig threw a fit about it, and after a couple of minutes came back to state the following (mind you I remember each and every word) “We had a Consensus and we all agree that ‘that’ is not allowed, its a big no no.” My Retort is as followed. “oh, I have not seen any literature about this upon your web page” I was cut off short… and her reply was: “Well we have it in our manuals”. After that I simply quit puffing, and remembered that the flight was almost over… And that I will never, ever use American Airlines again. Here is the facts. Had I been notified pre-flight of the issue, mind you that I had already taken a flight to Puerto Rico using the same airlines with no Problems, Then this would not be an issue, as I would have digressed, and not used. HOWEVER, the fact of the matter is, that I was embarrased, forced to use aggressive votality in my vocal approach to the situation perpetuated, and still cannot report a crew member because they did not disclose their name upon their name tag.

    • Cathy says:

      You can report that crew member simply by letting the airline know which flight you were on and giving them a description of the crew member. Covering up their name is a uniform violation.

  2. GA says:

    If I can’t create water vapor even in a bathroom lavatory, then they should also ban farting out methane vapor!

  3. Shelly says:

    I can across this blog while I was researching whether I can use my e-cig on my flight from the main land to Maui in June. I’m glad I found out beforehand that I can’t….BUT I find it very interesting that the e-cig’s are allowed in the airports! Soooo the airport staff is ok with explaining to anyone that may ask “What is that person smoking or doing ect. at the airport but NOT on the airplane? Hmmm…..strange!!!!

  4. Art says:

    Are you saying that you have concerns about pace makers and or ICD’s (Implantable Cardio Defibralators) causing problems? I will tell you right now I have a medical device implanted and have been on several flights and never had any problems, the only thing is that I have to be checked through by TSA off to the side I can’t go through the scanners!!!!

  5. Paul says:

    I’m pretty sure the average person would ban nicotine patches and gum too if they had the opportunity. It’s not a question of logic, it’s a question of morality, and people who don’t use nicotine in any form have stuck their flag on the high ground.

    Meanwhile, it would help a lot if e-cig manufacturers would produce ‘smokeless’ (ie, visible-vapour-less) versions. The visible vapour is only there for psychological reasons (smokers like me don’t feel they’re actually smoking without ‘smoke’), and the same throat-hit can be delivered without the visible vapour.

    So, manufacturers should make ‘visible vapourless’ versions (preferably not designed to look like a cigarette either) – these might alleviate some of the unfounded concerns that the moral highgrounders have.

    • Judy says:

      I’m surprised a nicotine inhaler hasn’t been invented that looks like primatene mist. They couldn’t ban a person from using an inhaler, could they?

      • Joe DeMauro says:

        Judy, in this country? They have nothing better to so, so it wouldn’t surprise me. Just read an article titled “16 cancer causing foods we eat every day” an saw that the FDA has not even addressed any regulation on artificial sweeteners (other than labeling guidelines) and such. Did you know that if you buy or eat canned tomatoes, you are eating a food that is high in carcinogens? Yep. The CANS are lined with a substance that preserves the tomatoes and it has been shown to cause cancer! The FDA knows about this but they target Ecigs instead? My point? The politicians in this country are 1) wayyyyyy too numerous. You do not need them ALL! 2) Have absolutely NO clue. How many have quit one of the highest cancer causing products…analogs…because of Ecigs? How many have been hospitalized for vaping G2 Mr. Cookie eliquid? Now, how many people have been hospitalized for cancer? How many have died from that horrid disease? And our beloved government sees Ecigs as a higher priority agenda item than regulating KNOWN…I say KNOWN cancer causing agents and substances? They are CLUELESS and have nothing better to do than pacify…as previous poster stated and I agree…those non nicotine users that have placed their clueless flags on that hill! Salt, canned tomatoes, non organic fruits and vegetables (pesticides )…even MICROWAVE POPCORN…really, check it out…all these things have been PROVEN to cause cancer in many animals and humans. And they want to play with vaping? Which, do the research, has NOT been proven to cause these things. Even if they have MINOR traces of carcinogens, nothing has been proven. Back to my point…yes, Judy. They would and could ban even a nicotine inhaler.

        • Lisa Trotter says:

          Of course they would ban anything they think they might get a majority of vote on. Why wouldn’t they? Now, in the seventies, Nixon made sure to start the ‘war on drugs’. While this continued in the eighties with Reagan, the nineties kind of just accepted the fact that the fight would not end, and then it was all about ‘welfare reform’. And then the year 2k approaches and it is now ‘gas prices’, which led to the ‘recession’, and the government is concerned with e-cigs? No, this makes no sense to me and is ridiculous. It’s for votes my friends. Votes and campaign donations, which brings up my next issue, those politicians who claimed that having a ‘limit’ on donations was a violation of their First Amendment, all while puffing on a ‘real’ cigarette, a politician stops, looks at his cig and thinks, wow, now with all these new vapes and e-cigs coming out, what’s this going to do to tobacco tax? Now, we can’t let that happen, can we? Or, let’s see, they prohibited alcohol prior to the ‘Great Depression’, and had the great idea of making it legal again, but just ‘taxing’ it. That would solve all the American’s problems, right? So, drink away, puff on your cancer stick, and then drive home, but be sure not to kill a family of four on your way home from drinking all night. It never makes sense. Politicians come up with ways to prohibit things that will keep them from making money, and then things that are prohibited gives the local police ways to make arrests to keep the income flowing. Now, congress, go smoke on your pipe, and think of something else that will keep your wallet from going empty, and us American’s broke. Corruption. Since our government was formed, it’s been about what is best for those who are involved, and not for ‘the people’, and definitely not ‘by the people’.

  6. James says:

    The end of the article is completely wrong. Ryanair do not sell e-cigs at all!! They sell smokless cigarettes which has nothing to do with e-cigs. The smokless cigerettes do not produce any vapor, there is no battery inside…It’s just some kind of cigarette which the insides are made of a sinthetic materia lwhich is infused with some nicotine.. breathing it in, supposidly administers a little amount of nicotine as a cigarette would. I have tried them and they are crap if you ask me..

  7. Melissa L says:

    I will most definitely be vaping it up in the bathroom on my flight to Vegas next month! This is really dumb and imma rebel! 🙂

  8. Paul says:

    Going on 2 week trip OF A LIFETIME to Europe in April 2013 and the 3 hour check-in, security screenings, + 7 hour flight to England & then 1 hour going thru customs WILL WIPE ME OUT without a Cigarette, SO without an E-Cig to use as a “CRUTCH” I would be doomed or getting DRUNK on airline liquor. E Cigs are the answer and I better not be questioned.

  9. Libertarienne says:

    I appreciate the info! I am just getting ready to get to the airport to go to DIA an I had beed worried. It’s luckily a non-stop 1.5 hr flight, so no biggie. Plus, I can always do what I do in hospitals and other indoor e-cig unfriendly places: 1) I can take very small, inconspicuous puffs and let them sit in the lungs a little longer, then expire very slllllowwwwly. 2) I can get a blanket, cover my head like I am napping and puff slightly larger puffs than in #1, but still not like a full drag, and let the vapor dissipate under the covers.

    Honestly, I think if people can get away with getting busy on a full jet with little problem, I can do this. LOL

    And the coconut cream scent of the vape that may make it to another passenger isn’t likely to be too alarming.

    I flip my bird at the TSA assclowns, nanny-statists and thise too damn lazy or just ignorant to look it up and learn something. It’s my responsibility not to harm others with my own (however) harmful choices. I however won’t hold some dipwad’s hand and coddle them because their own little PC-shiney bubble world isn’t in danger of imploding at the hand of reason, logic and self-accountability.

  10. Steve says:

    I use mine all the time on the plane,, if you inhale and hold it for a few seconds, the vapor dissipates and you exhale nothing. Well, it does with the juice I use anyway

  11. Joanna says:

    I am sending letters to the airlines that I use on a regular basis and letting them know that I will only use an airline that allows E-Cigs! We have to speak their language, MONEY!!! There is NO reasonable reason to ban E-Cigs and I will not accept laziness on the airlines part as an answer. I get that real cigs pose a health hazard to others (including myself) but there is no harm with the E-Cigs and therefore Ignorance of non E-smokers is not my problem and I will not stand for my choices to use E-Cigs being taken away unless it is equal… Take the junk food away from the fat person and then talk to me!!!!

    • Debbie says:

      I know what you you mean Joanna. Here we are trying to better our health and choices. I have been off tobacco cigs for 6 months now and switched to vaping. My question is “can we carry our vape accessories on board”? I have some nicotine drops to hold me up for a 4 hour trip.

  12. croalx says:

    Hi there , unfortunately ignorance reigns everywhere regarding e-cigs and without a law that confirms e-smokers rights there will be few chances in the future to have a single win with people that for years considered smokers as losers . so my advice is to try to let sign petitions pro e-cig as a medical aid to quit smoking and let them turn around til some politicians will find it maybe a good chance to take votes .
    g’d luck folks !

    • Die4_freedom says:

      Don’t need a law time is better. Put a law in place there will a big corp to take it over better safe than Big Corp.

  13. Die4_freedom says:

    Well I think there is a point missed or I have not read all posts
    1 TSA check points why can’t hey smart enough to know these things are safe.
    2 Before vaping you had to take your flight with out smoking get over it don’t vap
    3 If you think you have a right to do what you think is best for you and safe for me then you don’t have a job lol 🙂

  14. scotrump says:

    The e-cig has exposed the insane people of the world who wish to still ban its use and infringe on the rights of another person to partake of a legal habit. This is being done even though it has absolutely no detrimental effect on them personally in any way. It is proof positive once and for all that these dangerous people have nothing better to do with their time. e-cigs pose no threat to society but the people that want to ban them certainly do…

  15. Steven says:

    I found this to be very helpful. I can understand why smoking an Ecig on a plane may be an issue. Not because of second hand smoke or anything like that but rather how the vapors might be confused with something more serious like smoldering equipment on the plane. Or the smoke could conceal an actual problem with the plane. So I understand some reasoning behind this, but it won’t make my flight any easier on me this week.

  16. c_b says:


    Your post doesn’t even read properly, as it’s not composed of actual sentences.

    I just called Frontier and they actually encourage you to pack your ecig in your carry-on, and just plan on busting it out during security alongside your cellphone/tablets/laptops/etc and being readied to answer questions as needed. But, they did warn me that I wouldn’t be permitted to use it during the flight. Which makes sense as the vapor looks like smoke, and no one EVER wants to see ‘smoke’ while they’re trapped in an airplane.

    I’m a very light smoker, only 4-6 cigs a day for the last year+, but I know I get cranky when I go 10-12+ hours without some nicotine in my bloodstream. For a regular transatlantic flight, this long travel time is somewhat expected and you can plan for it with gum to get you by. For domestic flights that get re-routed several times, as was the case when i flew via Delta (Hellta), I was stuck in airports/airplanes for 12+ hours when it should have been under 5 hrs to get from WI to NC ,even with a connecting flight. I thought I could just grab a smoke when I landed, no biggie. But an additional 7 hours without access to nicotine gum (I didn’t see any for sale at the multiple airports I visited) or an ecig…I mean, they’re setting themselves up for custy-rage.

  17. Wanda Ramos says:

    First, people complain about the smoke of real cigarettes and then an alternative comes out and you’re still complaining!! The ones complaining are the ones who don’t smoke. Think about it if Ecigs are banned we’ll just go back to regular cigarettes. Enjoy our smoke!!

  18. Paul O says:

    They should allow them on flights longer than a couple of hours and sell them on board at $10.00 a pop…hello !!!!!!

    • Donna says:

      I’m with you. Not only the smokers will be happy but the airline can make an extra buck off you…like they really need it. But it will solve everyone’s problem.

  19. Kyle says:

    First off the FDA is hesitant for a couple reasons. Please note that I am a ecig user and support them, but I think objectively.

    1.) Nicotine is leathal in large doses. It was used in the cold war and even before in contact killing (killed by touching a surface or object), for security reasons I will not elaborate further. The FDA is concerned that the levels may be not controlled and intake too much and cause problems.

    2.) There are always concerns were politics are involved. It will take time for certain politicians that have invested interest in tobacco products to stop getting in the way.

    3.) Time: Tests for long term effects take time to see the ‘long’ in longterm effects.

    Airplanes and TSA.

    I recommend not trying to have your ecig assembled in your bag next to a block of your modeling clay and a turban on. Sorry for the steriotype but it looks like an IED,

    With that being said as an EOD technician (Bomb Squad) the highest risk for Ecigs seems to me that they can be construde and even possible made to be a blasting cap for an IED. They should have to be declared and explosive tested IMO, it would save time if they didnt have to find them and get all spun up. Sidenote (those guys and gals at the xray machine are trained by BAOs that are mostly former EOD, they are not as experianced and when they see something call the BAO to confirm)

    Also the appearance is everything on a plane. Our smoke, or vapor, can be seen as two things:

    1.) Real smoke from a cigarette and the health crazy moron that thinks they can get cancer at the sight of the smoke freaks out on a plane….at 30k feet. Not good.

    2.) Real smoke from the aircraft and the person afraid of flying thinks the plane is breaking and freaks out….at 30k feet.

    You must choose your battles and determine if it is really a bit deal. You can do two things (i do these)

    The rule is smokeing or the appearance of smoking not ingesting or intaking or poisons (nicotine is a poison).

    1.) Inhale pushing your ecig button then release while still inhaling, this will remove all vapor in the tube and give you some straight air. Hold your breath and then breathe out slowly. There will be no vapor once you practice it. The vapor, or the VG will not absort quickly in your lungs, but it will absorb. This is why you get vapor, that is mistaken as water vapor, that part is not strickly true, but the VG exhale is just a dangerous as water vapor so not a big deal.

    2.) take the liquid from the ecig or bottle and touch your finger to the liquid just slightly then press your finger to your wrist or where ever. The nicotine will absorb through your skin, (not as fast on fingers due to sking thickness and density) and you will get your nicotine hit and not be in withdraw.

    As a advisor to many of the anti-terrorism and federal agencies I will tell you that appearance and perception are everything. I am a certified Master Badge EOD tech with hundreds of IEDs rendered safe and bombmakers found. I have worked with secret service, FBI, CIA, and DHS…but if I say bomb on a plane, or even where some of my T-shirts that have bombs and IEDs on them as decoration, I can even get in alot of trouble, because its not about me, its about the effect on others. Just a thought for you to ponder when you think you are entitled some right on a plane.

  20. Dusty says:

    In the bathroom… that is all…

  21. Recent Traveler says:

    I recently flew with a fellow Vaper from Boston to Nicaragua. He vapped the whole flight. He was asked by the flight attendant about it, but after a brief explanation and demonstration they allowed him to continue.

    So yes, the rules are there, but if you are not an ass about it (or if you get lucky to not have a douche near you on the flight), 9 times out of 10 you can get away with it.

  22. Eddie says:

    I am a non smoker but think these e-cigarettes are a great idea because as smokers use them, they are more likely to continue using them, reducing the demand for traditional tobacco cigarettes. The fact these e-cigarettes contain no tar, no tobacco and do not release harmful smoke is a good thing, and governments should be supporting their use, not banning them. They won’t ban cigarettes because of the tax they get from them, but claim e-cigarettes are not risk free. the Australian Government for example has banned the sale of e-cigarettes. surely they should be trying to help people quit smoking, and e-cigarettes help in many ways. They are not the perfect solution but they come close. Apparently there is some research out there that claims that e-cigarettes can affect people around them, albeit slightly and are actually harmful for those who smoke them despite the lack of tobacco and tar. As for not being allowed to use them on flights, I wonder if that is because some airlines cannot be bothered having to deal with the complaints from passengers who do not understand when they see someone using it. I am sure we will see the day eventually when e-cigarettes finally get the full nod by all governments worldwide. In summary, they seem to me to be a much better option than traditional cigarettes.

  23. bizi says:

    as long as they dont kick you out from a flying plane, while in air its fine 😀

  24. Donna says:

    I’m a smoker and normally can “hold out” during a domestic flight. But once I have my baggage. I’m lighting up as soon as I get outdoors. I have an 11 hour direct flight coming up to Brazil. You bet I’ll be carrying an e-cig with me on board and using the bathroom to take a few puffs on occassion. Like another people have pointed out, it’s not going to set off the smoke alarms, there are no cameras and I wouldn’t smell like a cigarette. To hell with all the e-cigarette natizs.

  25. Sheila says:

    Excellent reply by Kyle.

    I’m a smoker, use an ecig when necessary, but easily see the perception problem on a plane or anywhere else. I was googling to see if I could get by with puffing in the lav for my 7 hour flight tomo. Very glad to know they don’t set off smoke alarms :).

    My daughter works in retail and has had to chase people down to tell them they can’t smoke in the store…only to find they are using an ecig. She said it drives the staff crazy, plus the complaints they get from people who don’t know it is not real smoke. So rules are understandable when in public places, esp. when 30k feet up. But why not leave out the “not allowed in lavatories” part and let ecig users silently understand it’s ok to vap if you go in and shut the door?

    I still say that one day the real truth will come out…that it was auto exhaust causing far more cancers than, and not primarily, cigs (I’m not saying cigs are safe, don’t misunderstand here). Else why do outside (not indoor and in cig smoke) dogs, horses and cats, etc. get cancer? The only thing all in common is – auto exhaust, factory exhaust, primarily auto.

    As a side laugh – it’s ok to be around all the jet exhaust at the Indianapolis airport but you can’t light up outside, anywhere, on their grounds. Hellooo??

  26. Jason P says:

    So glad I found this article. Leaving for China in three days. 14 hour flight from Detroit to Beijing. I think I would SNAP on someone without a cig for 14 hours. I feel like a junkie as I type this.
    I like the on board bathroom idea though. No harm to anyone, no one second guessing or being afraid of a bomb or something. Geez, people need to chill.
    Wish me luck.

  27. Mike says:

    That’s why I chew. Can’t stop me from dipping during a flight. And at the end I leave the stewardess a nice water bottle of brown spit juice.

  28. Ryan Rivers says:

    Haha funny the amount of people that think they’re just vaping water…

  29. Annie says:

    How absolutely ridiculous! I will not be held hostage while on an airplane. I will be going to the bathroom frequently and capping. The only reasons on smokers have for us not to smoke is the smell and the second hand smoke. I do not blame them for that! Since I have been capping I was in a no smoking casino anda man sat next to me and omg did the poor man stink of smoke! That was a great wake up call. So now I vap all of the time and I can breathe again. Why would a non smoker want to sit next to me for 14 hours and smell the smoke instead of letting me vap? I think if the non smokers were asked they would say let them vap rather than smell us! Think about this people it makes much more sense to let us vap! Live and let live. I don’t drink but I put my life at risk everyday with intoxicated non smoking drivers!

  30. Angel says:

    I was on a flight with my friends a few years ago, both smokers. The flight was over 11 hours. By the time we were getting ready to get off the plane, they were both snapping at me and each other. I was dying for a drink of water but they couldn’t even wait for me to go to an airport shop to get a water bottle, we had to head straight to that horrible little room in Dubai airport full of smoke and big Iranian men, all puffing away. They could barely stand it in there for 3 minutes, it was so smoky you couldn’t even see the ceiling and the place worse than stank, it felt like your lungs were growing cancers if you even got near the door! I say bring on the e-cigs!

  31. Ed says:

    Go to your doctor and get a prescription for a nicotrol inhaler. It gives you the same nicotine as a cigarette or an ecig without any vapor or any outward sign that you are satisfying your craving for nicotine. My wife has been using one for years when she goes to places that have banned smoking.

    • jackie says:

      fantastic!!! Best answer on the whole page!!

    • Rajeev says:

      No matter what you try, there is no alternative to smoking. These nicotine patches, sprays and things come nowhere near a real smoke. the only other alternative which gives a 80% feel of smoking is an electronic cigarette. Thats the reason why its easier to quit with ecigs as opposed to patches and sprays. People just quit using sprays and patches no matter how good the nicotine kick is…

      Thats a personal opinion from a smoker…

  32. FRank says:

    Non – smokers need to get a clue. being a non smoker is not a guarantee to a long life, people die weather you smoke or not, it is part of life get over it. I will make a deal with non smokers and the Government. I will quit smoking when you can guarantee I won’t die some other horrendous death.

  33. Laura says:

    I’m an e-cigarette smoker (formerly the real stuff) and am disappointed that usage is not allowed on the planes. I would much rather see the TSA/airlines ban fast food…..that stuff stinks up the whole plane and for some of us it makes us ill (especially McDonald’s smell).

  34. Adam McGerry says:

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says travelers can pass through airport security with e-cigarettes without restriction.So this is the license for smokers.every smoker feel relief to hear that because it is authorized cigarette but we follow the regulation as well tobacco cigarette.