Can You Bring A Cigarette Lighter On A Plane? The TSA Rules Explained

Last Updated on September 9, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Whether you can bring a lighter on a plane depends on the type of lighter
  • According to the TSA you can bring one disposable lighter like a BIC lighter on a plane in hand luggage
  • You can also bring one refillable lighter like a Clipper in hand luggage
  • If packed in checked luggage any lighter containing fuel should be packed inside a DOT-approved case
  • You cannot bring a blue flame lighter in hand luggage
  • Lighter gas or fuel for refilling is not allowed on planes

This post is for smokers. Are you allowed to take a lighter with you as carry-on, or on your person? Can you bring a lighter on a plane? Do lighters need to go in checked luggage? Where do you put your lighter when flying? How many lighters can you take on a plane?

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.

International airport security might be different than the US. Most countries around the world allow you to take 1 lighter in your pocket or in your carry on but not in your checked luggage. However cigarette lighters are banned on planes in the Philippines.

TSA Lighters Rules

The TSA cigarette lighter rules are quite clear. Here is a screengrab from the TSA website:

Keep in mind that the TSA officer always has the final say at the security checkpoint.

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).

A disposable BIC style lighter is perfectly acceptable to take on a plane as well as a refillable clipper style lighter.

Here is Katherine getting confirmation from the TSA about her bic lighter on Twitter:

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

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

So you can put 1 single lighter in your carry on and it must remain inside your carry on. You can’t take it out your bag.

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.

Avoid any lighter with a blue flame.

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 do 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 therefore 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 ))​

Okay okay… you didn’t come here for a lecture I’m sure. If you’re 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.

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4 thoughts on “Can You Bring A Cigarette Lighter On A Plane? The TSA Rules Explained”

  1. You cannot bring a lighter on board whether it be in your carry on or person on any flight in the Philippines. I have traveled there numerous times and they take them every time. Security at the airport terminals will confiscate them.

  2. Just had my lighter – a tiny Bic – confiscated by airport “security” here in Columbia. I’m pretty sure that’s not a rule though. Just idiocy. Not a word on the two spare phones I forgot to take or my bag, and sitting here I’ve just found a pair of child’s scissors my daughter has clearly packed for me. So terrible security, but red hot on tiny lighters.

    • Yeah there is no reason a bic lighter should be confiscated from carry on luggage. Maybe he just needed a new lighter 🙁

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