Everything You Need to Know About Flying with a Vape

Some timely reminders after a vape battery caught fire on a recent flight.

A plane surrounded by vapes on a green backdrop.
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist | Images courtesy Getty Images
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist | Images courtesy Getty Images

I'm not here to yuck anyone's yum. So if you are in need of advice on how to best pack your vape on your next flight, I'm just going to give you the intel on how to do so safely. That way, the battery of said vape will not catch fire on your next voyage. And if you're thinking "well that's just not very likely," I have evidence that it is possible. On a Spirit Airlines flight from Dallas to Orlando earlier this year a small fire broke out for just that reason.

According to The Independent, a fire was seen on the March 1, 2023 flight and was quickly put out by retired New York firefighter Rocco Chierichella and members of the Spirit crew. Chierichella told reporters that the fire was caused by a "battery-powered vape tied to a battery charging [that was] inside the compartment. Very dangerous. And it ignited a piece of luggage next to it."

The plane was grounded in Jacksonville after the fire broke out, and 10 people were taken to the hospital as a result. The March 2023 incident is far from the only time vapes have caused disturbances on the airplane. According to a Wall Street Journalreport, vapes and e-cigarettes are the leading causes of lithium battery-related incidents on airplanes in recent years. 

Vape-related incidents are also one of the top examples of year-over-year increases in reports of passenger non-compliance on airplanes, according to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The association's latest report identified the "smoking of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes and puff devices in the cabin or lavatories" as the number-one most common example of unruly behavior from airplane passengers. Here's what you need to know about bringing your vape on your next flight, and doing so without breaking any rules or risking any fires. 

The issue has become so widespread that the Federal Aviation Administration created materials for vape retailers to share with customers about vape rules and safety earlier this year. And yes, that is Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane.

A poster featuring Samuel L. Jackson from Snakes on a Plane.
Courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration

Can you bring a vape on a plane?

Yes, you can. The TSA requires that the lithium battery for the vape be packed in your carry-on bag.

Can you smoke vapes or e-cigarettes on a plane?

You cannot, under any circumstances, smoke or otherwise use vapes or e-cigarettes on the plane.

Will TSA take my vape out of my carry-on?

According to the TSA, you can bring your vape or electronic cigarette with you when you travel on a plane, and you are actually only allowed to pack it in your carry-on, not your checked luggage.

"Passengers are required to take effective measures for preventing accidental activation of the heating element of the device when transporting the devices," the TSA website states.

Each lithium ion battery must not exceed a Watt-hour (Wh) rating of 100 Wh; or, for lithium metal batteries, a lithium content of two grams. You can pack up to 100 ml of vape refill liquid in your carry-on. An excess of 100 ml of liquid will need to be packed in your checked luggage.

How do I safely pack my vape in my carry-on?

What are those measures, exactly? As stated above, the batteries for the devices cannot exceed a Watt-hour rating of 100 Wh if they are a lithium ion battery. For lithium metal batteries, they can't contain more than two grams of lithium. If you aren't sure of that information, you can check the details, which should be written somewhere on the battery itself, or in the manufacturing information included with the vape itself.

Here are a few ways to ensure that your vape and its batteries are prevented from accidentally activating, from the FAA:

  • Remove the battery from the electronic smoking device
  • Separate the battery from the heating coil
  • Place the electronic smoking device into a protective case
  • Use a protective cover, safety latch, or locking device on the electronic smoking device's heating coil activation button

Most of us won't get lucky enough to have a retired firefighter on our next flight, so when you are packing your carry-on, make sure you double-check the FAA's guidance on how to do so safely and also contact your airline to see if there are any special instructions they have for you.

Can you pack THC or CBD oils?

The legality of THC varies in every state. But federally, "marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA." So unless you are certain that your product fits those requirements, it is probably safer to leave it at home.

It is important to note that "TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer." That means TSA is not actively seeking out your THC oils. Do with that information what you will.

“Whether or not the passenger is allowed to travel with marijuana is up to law enforcement’s discretion,” TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers said.

Can you bring a vape on international trips?

At least 37 countries have banned the sale of e-cigarettes, as of February 2021. Vapes are allowed on international flights when you are traveling to a country where they are legal. If you are traveling to a country where vapes are not legal, you'll need to research the specific policies regarding visitors bringing vapes. 

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need help sneaking weed onto a plane, finding an airport where you can sign up for PreCheck without an appointment, or making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to when your flight is canceled, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for up-to-date travel hacks and all the travel news you need to help you plan your next big adventure.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.