The lighter ban put in place by the TSA in 2004 is no longer in effect. TSA changed the regulations on lighters because more than 20,000 lighters were confiscated at airport checkpoints every day, and the disposal cost was high.
As a rule, you can bring one lighter in either your carry-on or on your person.
Unfortunately, TSA rules forbid bringing any type of lighter that use flammable gas or fluid in checked luggage.
TSA states that the lighter can use a flammable gas like butane or a flammable lighter fluid that is absorbed in a lining.
This means that Zippo and BIC-type lighters are allowed inside an airplane.
If you choose to bring one lighter with you, you must keep it in your pocket at all times, and whatever you do, don’t light it inside the plane.
The flight crew isn’t going to like it, and you might end up paying a high fine.
Be careful, though, what type of lighter you bring with you. If it’s not one of the two above options, you most likely won’t be allowed to bring it with you on the plane.
Any antique or hand-made lighters that don’t use a lining material or butane gas are prohibited.
You don’t want to be held up by airport security for such a small thing as a lighter.
Lighters that look like guns or any type of weapon are also prohibited.
Torch lighters are allowed only in a DOT container that will be stored in your checked baggage.
It is prohibited to bring torch lighters on your person or in your carry-on, regardless of their size.
Some people believe that if they can bring a lighter with them, they can also bring one in their checked luggage.
This is far from the truth. Lighters and matches are prohibited in checked luggage.
TSA confiscates thousands of lighters from checked baggage every day, yet people think to themselves, “It’s just a tiny lighter, no one will notice it. “
Please don’t do that.
Are electric lighters allowed on the plane?
Plasma lighters, tesla coil lighters, arc lighters, double arc lighters, or similar are not allowed on the plane, but they are allowed in checked luggage if the battery doesn’t exceed 100 Watt-hours and has a lithium content of under 2 grams.
How a TSA agent will know if a battery contains 1, 2, or 3 grams of lithium remains a mystery to me.
Nevertheless, if you plan to board the plane with an electric lighter, the TSA wants you to take some precautions:
- Remove the battery from the lighter(If possible).
- Place the lighter in a protective case, thus preventing unintentional activation of the heating element.
- If you can’t remove the battery, then block the lighter’s activation button with a safety latch or other locking device.
Note: Do not bring damaged electric lighters or ones that have missing elements like a safety cap. Most of the time, they will be taken from your checked luggage.
Remember that you will not be allowed to charge the lighter’s battery inside the airplane.
What are the reasons TSA agents come up with to take lighters from people even if they didn’t break any written rules?
The TSA agents can still confiscate your lighter because they are allowed to do so.
Here are the reasons that this might happen:
The lighter flame is too high.
What is the definition of a “high flame” lighter? Only a TSA agent will know. Luckily I asked one once. He said that if the flame is higher than the length of the lighter, then he will confiscate it.
The lighter has some kind of damage, visual or not.
The security agent might test your lighter to see if it works and, if not, might decide to confiscate it. But, on the other hand, he might take it for safety reasons if damage is visible on the lighter.
The lighter has a weird design.
If the lighter looks way different from a traditional lighter, it can be taken from you even if it doesn’t resemble a weapon.
The lighter is too big.
If the lighter is bigger than a regular Bic or Zippo lighter, airport security might decide that it represents a significant risk and take it from you.
The lighter is made from a shell casing or imitates a shell casing or bullet.
TSA agents aren’t experts in ammunition, so it makes sense to confiscate this kind of lighter.
Are matches allowed on a plane?
Friction matches are not allowed on a plane. TSA states that any kind of “strike anywhere match” is not permitted because the risk of self-igniting is too high.
Safety matches (strike on-box ) that use red phosphorus are allowed on the plane but not in your checked luggage.
As a side note, I wrote an article about bringing a hydro flask or thermos on a plane which you can find it here.
Also, you can bring only one book of safety matches on the aircraft.
Other types of matches that don’t use red phosphorus to ignite are not allowed.
Can you bring flint and steel on a plane or other fire starter materials?
If you have planned an outdoor escapade, then you will be happy to know that you can bring with you a flint striker or other types of “firesteel” in either your carry-on or checked luggage.
Be careful, though, because some types of firestarter materials aren’t allowed on the plane, including fire sticks, wet-fire tinder, fatwood, firelighters, and others.
If you travel with a survival kit, most of the time, they include one of the above materials. Therefore, it is better to remove them before boarding the plane. Of course, you can always buy firestarter material once you land.
What happens to a lighter on a plane? Is there any chance of an explosion?
Cabin pressure is a real thing, and it is true that the higher the plane is, the higher the inside pressure reaches, but you shouldn’t have to worry that your lighter will explode in your pocket and hurt you.
That is because a lighter is not a water bottle. A water bottle doesn’t have inside pressure like a butane lighter does.
The higher the external pressure is, the fewer chances there are that your lighter will explode. That’s because the butane gas inside is already in a pressurized state.
Because butane exists as a liquid only when being pressurized, what a lighter needs to explode is high heat that increases the inside pressure.
That is why it’s not advisable to leave lighters in cars, especially in the summer.
Let me put it this way: if the pressure inside the plane starts building for whatever reason, you will die from being crushed by the cabin pressure long before your lighter blows up.
In conclusion, the chances that a lighter might explode on the plane due to cabin pressure are nil.
How many empty lighters can you bring on a plane?
TSA states that you can bring as many empty lighters as you want in either your carry-on or checked luggage.
TSA asks that if you bring a lot of empty lighters, you pack them separately and put a note on the package with the number of lighters and ensure that they don’t contain any fluid or gas.
You should also expect some delays at the security screening if you have multiple empty lighters in your bag because the security personnel will need to check them one by one.
An empty lighter should be fully empty of all vapors, according to the TSA.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I bring lighter fuel on a plane?
The TSA rules are very strict about this. You cannot bring any kind of lighter fuel or refills on a plane, no matter the quantity or how it’s packed. Solid fuel for lighters or other types of solid fuels are also prohibited.
Can you bring a lighter on a plane if you are a minor?
Yes, you can bring a lighter on a plane if you are a minor because TSA agents don’t care about your age; they only care that the rules are obeyed by everyone.
However, based on your age, the airport security might decide to take the lighter from you if they decide that having it on you will present a risk to the plane’s safety.
What can you bring in a DOT-approved container for lighters?
If you use a DOT container, you can bring two other lighters or torch lighters in your checked luggage. Before buying the DOT container, you should check that the DOT and TSA code numbers are visible on the container.
If the codes are not there, you are not buying a TSA-approved container, meaning that you will not be allowed to bring additional lighters on the plane. The DOT container should mention that the FAA has approved it.
Keep in mind that the above rules apply only to the territory of the United States. If you fly internationally, then the rules might be different.
For example, in India, you cannot bring a lighter on the plane at all, so you must check local regulations before boarding.
Remember that lighting your lighter or matches on the plane is prohibited on all airlines, no matter the country.