How to Fly With an E-Cig: TSA Guidelines

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If you’re like many American smokers, you’ve probably switched from traditional cigarettes to vaping with an e-cig. You also probably don’t know much about TSA rules regarding e-cigs– which is no wonder because, shockingly, there are none. So if you’re looking to fly with your e-cig and e-liquid, how do you figure out what is and isn’t allowed?

The 3-1-1 Rule

Because e-liquids have no specific guidelines, they fall under the generalized TSA rule for liquids. Commonly referred to as the 3-1-1 rule, it states that a container can be no larger than 3.4 ounces, though you can have multiple small containers. All these containers must be able to fit into one clear, quart size zip-top bag. Each passenger is allowed one of these bags, which must be placed in the security bin when going through screening.

Of course, this rule applies only to carry-ons. You can pack larger amounts in checked baggage, and if you’re in doubt, it would be less of a hassle to do so.

3-1-1 TSA Rule e-Cigs

Guidelines for E-Cigs

As for the e-cig cartridge itself, that too can be packed in your carry-on, provided it does not resemble any type of explosive device. In fact, the FAA recommends e-cigarettes be packed in carry-on luggage, as there have been reports of fires caused by e-cigs in checked bags.

It’s recommended that you disassemble your e-cig before screening to limit its resemblance to an improvised bomb, as it’s much better to minimize the risk of confusion than be held up by TSA agents.

Before boarding, you should try to limit your vaping to designated smoking areas. Though this is not an explicit requirement, it’s much easier to avoid a scene than to extricate yourself from a confrontation regarding your vaping. If you would prefer not to go to a smoking area, try to be discrete and respectful of the individuals around you, who may not realize you’re puffing vapor, not smoke.

Once on the plane, vaping is disallowed. Individual airline rules vary, but most have already explicitly banned the use of e-cigs while in flight, including Delta, United, Southwest, and JetBlue. The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has also come out to say that they consider e-cigs included under their 1998 smoking ban. Thus, the USDOT has not come out with a specific e-cig ban, leading to a bit of confusion; just know that they have banned it, no matter what vape companies try to say.

If you think that you can discretely vape, whether in your seat or in the airplane restroom: don’t. There have already been experiments showing that e-cig vapor can and does set off smoke detectors. You really don’t want to be the person who triggered a fire alarm on an airplane!

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  • Ali Esmaili
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