Over the past several years, there has been consistent talk about the FAA banning e cigarettes on commercial airlines. Officials have been on this topic due to the hazards e cigarettes pose to airplanes. Nevertheless, a total ban has not been put in place (we find this strange as the FAA generally tends to ban anything that can be even remotely perceived as dangerous). What’s even more interesting is that it wasn’t the FAA who directly stated that e cigarettes should not be stored in checked luggage; the FAA statement only made air carriers aware of a new bulletin released by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization – the U.N. arm that advances guidelines for the international aviation community).
The advisory issue states that airlines should ensure that their passengers put their electronic cigarettes in their carry-on luggage rather than their checked baggage. The bulletin noted a few occurrences/fires on flights in the checked baggage section caused by e cigs.
The Heating Element
There are various types of e cigarettes. Not all e cig enthusiasts smoke cig-a-like e cigarettes with automatic batteries. Many prefer mods, tanks, and e liquid. Many also prefer manual batteries over automatic ones. While this may seem completely safe, for flying it could be deadly. One incident last August in particular saw a heating element activated accidentally in someone’s checked baggage, which led to a fire in flight.
E Cigarette Modifications
It is rare, but heating elements can be activated accidentally as was written about above. However, modifying your factory made electronic cigarette can also significantly increase the chances of a fire or a serious malfunction. We have seen this across the UK in 2014, where over 100 e cigarette related fires were reported. Switching and mixing e cigarette components is never a good idea, though countless people continue to experiment on this, completely disregarding previous disasters caused by this same action.
Chinese E Cigarette Manufacturers
If you take a look around the e cigarette landscape, you will notice that the competition is fierce. You can now find electronic cigarettes for £10. Forget the fact that you should probably think a few times before purchasing an e cigarette this cheap (you usually get what you pay for). If a product is made in China, you should question how safe it is. Just about all of the fires here in the UK were started by e cigs made in China. The FAA and countries around the globe now need to seriously consider this as a legitimate threat.
We are all for bringing your electronic cigarette with you while traveling. We do not want to see any crazy restrictions put in place. However, this bulletin seems like a decent statement from the FAA (for once). People will always look to modify their e cigs, use manual batteries, or purchase from Chinese made brands. Additionally, accidents can still occur. Also, if e cigs are only allowed in carry-on luggage, should a fire still break out in flight, it can be put out almost instantly because it will be at an arm’s length and not under the plane.