Can You Bring A Cigarette Lighter On A Plane?

This quick article is for smokers. Are you allowed to take a lighter with you as carry-on, or on your person?

Oh dear... suffering from a little lighter anxiety are we? I remember those days from before I quit smoking 10 years ago.​ Flying is a bit of a nightmare for smokers I know, I remember it.

Here's the deal:​

Yes, you can take a regular cigarette lighter like a clipper on a plane in your pocket. But there are a number of rules that you should be aware of.

Are there specific types of lighters I can bring?

Here's where things start getting a little bit more complicated. The U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) allows you to have one butane or zippo-style lighter on your person or in your carry-on baggage, though nowhere else (Except for specific circumstances, but we'll get to that).

Due to TSA regulation, blue flame lighters, jet lighters, and cigar lighters are all forbidden however.

In addition to this, lighters made to imitate firearms or weapons are off the table. Doh!

You can put 1 lighter in your carry on and it must remain inside your carry on you can't take it out.​

Or you can keep 1 lighter in your pocket, it must remain in your pocket, you can't move it into your bag during the flight.

My advice is don't even take your lighter out your pocket during a flight.

Are there any exceptions to the 'one lighter' rule?

You can actually bring up to two additional lighters in your checked baggage, but only under the right circumstances.

Namely, they need to be secured in DOT-approved airtight travel bags.

Some of the more noteworthy manufacturers like Colibri, Zippo, and Prometheus have all secured special permits with the DOT for their own travel cases however, which you can find easily enough on Amazon or some specialty stores.

But since we focus on carry on travel around here that's enough about that.​

Are there any lighters I definitely can't have in carry-on?

Well, seeing as this is the TSA we're talking about, that's a yes.

Chef torches, utility torches, and micro torches as well as their fuel are, as a rule of thumb, completely against the rules to have in your carry-on or on your person.

The only way to bypass this is, as above, to bring them in checked baggage and in DOT-approved airtight travel bags.

And please don't try taking that novelty gun lighter on a flight!

Well, what about refills or fuel?

Now, this one's a real hard-line no. Not even in any of the outlined above circumstances may you be permitted to bring on a refill or extra fuel for your lighter.

Lighter gas or fuel is not allowed on planes.

No, not even in those fancy DOT-approved airtight travel bags. You're gonna have to make due with what you've got when it comes to fuel. So the best advice is to make sure your one permitted lighter is fully refilled before your trip.

Can I at least mail myself more, ahead of time?

Again, that one's a real loud-and-clear 'no'. Unless you've completely emptied and cleaned a lighter, you're definitely not allowed to mail those ahead of you. Never, under any circumstances, can you mail a lighter. And the same goes for lighter fluid or butane refills, you can't mail those either.

And empty lighters? What about those?

Well, if you're extremely thorough, they're theoretically a yes. Empty lighters aren't considered hazardous by the DOT and therefor aren't regulated as stringently as filled lighters are.

The issue here is that the DOT's idea of 'empty' and yours are probably quite different. As far as you're concerned, it's 'empty' if you can't get a light off anymore. For the DOT, it's 'empty' if it is absolutely barren of fuel and fuel residue.

The good news is that since more than 20% of the world's population smoke every 5th person you ask will probably be able to give you a light.

And don't forget that they will probably have shops where you are going too ;)​

How about matches?

That's answered similarly to the first question.

Yes, in exceptionally small quantities. You're permitted one pack of safety matches on your person or carry-on.

Much like fuel though, you're absolutely not allowed to carry more matches in your checked baggage, even in approved travel bags.

Are there any tips you've got for getting through a long flight without smokes?

Yeah quit smoking.

Needing to take a long flight is a good time to start think about quitting and staying alive to play with your grandchildren etc etc bla bla bla ))​

Not ready for that...​

Well... nicotine patches work for lots of people, and they pass on planes. If those don't do it for you, nicotine gum has been considered by many to be a good backup.

If both of those have managed to fall short for you, hard candies can tend to do the trick for when the urge starts to really dig into you. Beyond that, a lot of it's just going to come down to discipline and strength of mind during those long flights.

And any tips on preparing for a trip in the first place?

Here is where you have by far the most control over how your flight and the followup will be. The first thing to be sure of is to properly plan your time before the flight, making sure to leave a little window to finish a cig before you have to get on the plane.

Beyond that, be sure to have taken the time to find a smoker-friendly hotel or other accommodations before leaving, because the fee for smoking in a non-smoking hotel is definitely not worth it, no matter what your craving is telling you.

In general, be aware of your needs and be willing to take the time to manage yourself and your schedule before stuff gets hectic.

In conclusion...

You're definitely permitted one lighter on your person or carry-on during a flight.

Fill your lighter before your trip. Allow time to have those 3 last cigarettes before you enter the airport and sweat it out during the flight.

Don't take check luggage because when you finally arrive you'll need to wait at that frustrating conveyor belt when you are gasping for a smoke.

Fly carry on and you'll be able to run for the airport exit, out into the fresh air of your destination and light up and fill your blood with that poison that it needs.

Or alternatively... if you've just taken a long flight, and the nicotine is already leaving your system. Maybe it's time to quit for good, save your health and your money. You are already half way to quitting... so think about that next time you land 🙂

Sources:

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ash/ash_programs/hazmat/passenger_info/media/Airline_Passengers_Lighters_Faq.pdf

https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/travel/travel-planning/carry-on-luggage-restrictions

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