Air travel can be a stressful experience, particularly for novice flyers unfamiliar with baggage rules and regulations. Navigating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is undoubtedly one of the more frustrating aspects of flying. A question that often comes up is whether or not you can bring a lighter on a plane.
You can bring a disposable cigarette lighter, such as a BIC lighter or Zippo lighter, in your carry-on luggage. These lighters may have fuel in them. But you must empty a lighter in your checked baggage. However, the TSA only allows plasma lighters, arc lighters, or electronic and e-lighters in carry-on luggage under specific restrictions. You can’t bring butane and torch lighters in carry-on bags or checked luggage.
The TSA bans some items completely, while many are permissible if in compliance with specific size or model restrictions. Needless to say, it can be difficult to remember all of these nuances, especially when packing and planning for your trip.
Keep reading to learn which types of lighters you can bring on your next flight and which ones to leave home.
Will the TSA Confiscate a Lighter?
If you're traveling with a lighter, you'll want to know if you will face any issues when going through security. If you pack a disposable or Zippo lighter in your carry-on bag, the TSA won’t confiscate it. This goes for lighters with and without fuel inside, as both are okay in carry-on luggage.
However, if you pack any other type of lighter in your carry-on bag, the TSA will confiscate the item. Non-disposable lighters include, but are not limited to, plasma, arc, and electronic lighters, as well as butane and torch lighters.
However, if you are packing lighters in a checked bag, you can expect different rules and restrictions to apply. The only lighters you can pack in checked luggage are disposable lighters without fuel. Any type of lighter with fuel is a no-go in checked baggage, and the TSA will likely remove the item.
A Quick Look at the TSA’s Lighter Rules for 2022
The TSA website has a comprehensive list of rules about items that require special restrictions. This list includes information on which kinds of lighters are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage. The TSA has very specific regulations regarding how and when you can bring a lighter on a plane.
This list is an excellent resource for travelers who want to confirm which items they are allowed to pack for their flight. To access this list, simply select the “What Can I Bring” tab on the main page of the TSA website.
Below, we have included some of the information that the TSA provides regarding lighter restrictions:
- You can pack disposable and Zippo lighters with and without fuel in carry-on luggage.
- You must remove all fuel from disposable and Zippo lighters before aching them in checked baggage. Additionally, these are the only types of lighters the TSA allows in checked luggage.
- You’re only allowed to bring arc lighters, plasma lighters, and electronic and e-lighters in carry-on baggage. But you must remove the battery and place the lighter in a protective case.
- The TSA does not allow arc lighters, plasma lighters, and electronic lighters in checked baggage.
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Does It Matter What Kind of Lighter I Bring on a Plane?
Whether or not you are allowed to pack a lighter for your flight depends on the lighter type. There are many lighters models with various purposes, and the TSA has specific regulations regarding each model. It is essential to know the kind of lighter you have to assess whether you can pack it for your flight.
You can bring disposable lighters with or without fluid on planes when packed in carry-on luggage. However, if you pack a disposable lighter in your checked baggage, you must empty it of all fuel.
Disposable lighters include Zippo lighters and BIC lighters. BIC lighters are small and contain a hard plastic shell. They contain lighter fluid and may or may not be refillable, depending on your brand.
Zippo lighters are small, metal lighters with a lid covering the flame wick. Zippo lighters are reusable, but the TSA considers them disposable for packing purposes.
Plasma Lighters, Arc Lighters, Electronic and E-Lighters
Plasma, arc, and electronic lighters can go in carry-on bags. However, they face specific restrictions. Per the TSA, you must take effective measures to prevent these lighters from being dangerous on an aircraft.
In order to bring these lighters on a plane, you must remove the batteries from them. You must also place them in a protective case or lock them in a way that they can’t activate accidentally.
Furthermore, you cannot charge these lighters, nor their batteries, while onboard the aircraft. If the lighter contains batteries, they may not exceed a Watt-hour rating of 100 WH. Lithium metal batteries cannot have a lithium content higher than 2 grams.
Plasma lighters, arc lighters, electronic, and e-lighters are not permitted in checked baggage.
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Gun Lighters and Torch Lighters
The TSA does not currently allow gun lighters or torch lighters on airplanes in carry-on or checked baggage.
Lithium Battery Powered Lighters
You can pack lithium battery-powered lighters in carry-on luggage with restrictions. Like plasma, arc, and e-lighters, you must remove the batteries and place the lighter in a protective case. The lithium battery itself may not contain more than 2 grams of lithium.
You can’t pack lithium battery-powered lighters in checked baggage.
Can You Bring a Lighter on a Plane If It Has Fuel In It?
Keeping fuel in a lighter depends on whether or not you plan to bring the lighter in a carry-on bag or a checked bag. If you are packing a disposable or Zippo lighter in your carry-on bag, you are permitted to have fuel inside it. However, you must empty the lighter of all fluid in a checked bag.
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Does It Matter If the Lighter Is in a Carry-On vs. Checked Bag?
The rules for bringing lighters on airplanes vary depending on whether or not you pack them in a checked or carry-on bag.
The TSA’s website currently has the following regulations for lighters in carry-on vs. checked bags:
Disposable lighters and Zippo lighters are permitted in carry-on bags, regardless of whether or not they contain fuel. Arc, plasma, electronic, and e-lighters are allowed in carry-on luggage as long as they are disabled from use while aboard the plane.
What Is the Best Way to Pack a Lighter?
When packing your carry-on luggage, you do not need to take any special measures to pack your disposable lighters. You can pack disposable and Zippo lighters normally inside your carry-on luggage. You can also bring them on the plane in your personal item, such as a backpack or briefcase.
Remove batteries from plasma lighters, arc lighters, e-lighters, and electronic lighters before packing them in a carry-on bag. Also, store them in a protective case to ensure that they are not at risk of accidentally lighting while on the plane. Alternatively, you can disarm these lighters using protective covers, safety latches, or locking devices that disable the activation button.
There is only one instance where fueled disposable lighters or plasma, arc, or electronic lighters can go in checked baggage. You must secure a special permit from the Department of Transportation (DOT). This permit allows a person to pack items that the TSA considers hazardous and bans from air travel.
If you have secured a DOT permit for a lighter, you must store the item in a DOT-approved case. You can purchase these cases in select stores or online.
Can I Bring Cigarettes on the Plane?
The TSA does not have any restrictions on cigarettes or tobacco products, meaning you are permitted to bring cigarettes on a plane. You are also allowed to bring chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigars, and other forms of smokeless tobacco. You can pack cigarettes and other tobacco products in carry-on luggage and checked bags.
Still Not Sure? Ask the TSA
A helpful tool to utilize when packing for your trip is the TSA’s “What Can I Bring” list. This list comprehensively breaks down which kinds of lighters you can bring on a plane. It also breaks down how to pack the lighters and which type of luggage.
Using this tool, you can browse through a list of items that have special restrictions. You can also check the eligibility of a specific item by entering it in the search bar at the top right corner of the page. The TSA website also contains helpful information regarding rules for bringing liquids on flights, frequently asked questions, and travel tips.
If you are unable to find the information you need using this tool or still have questions that need clarifying, you can contact the TSA directly. The TSA has customer service that you can reach via email or phone.
You may also find the answer by perusing the frequently asked questions. Or, contact the TSA via tweet, Facebook, or Apple messaging for live assistance from a representative.
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Wrapping Up When You Can Bring a Lighter on a Plane
Knowing what you are allowed to bring on a plane eases much of the anxiety caused by air travel. Thankfully, tools like the TSA’s “What Can I Bring” list make it easy to know what you are permitted to bring.
For lighters, the rules are more relaxed if you plan to pack them in a carry-on bag. You can bring disposable and Zippo lighters on a plane in your carry-on luggage, both with and without fuel. In checked luggage, you can only bring disposable lighters if they do not have any fuel.
You can also pack arc, plasma, and electronic lighters in a carry-on bag if you store them safely. Unfortunately, the TSA does not currently allow arc, plasma, and electronic lighters in checked bags.
Contact the TSA for more rules on packing other items or to clarify lighter regulations. Be sure to contact the TSA prior to your flight to ensure smooth traveling.