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Rules for Vapes and Cartridges on a Plane

Dark backround image with vaping accessories on the right side of the image with overlayed text

As cannabis use continues to increase across the country, more and more people are traveling with vapes and carts. But what are the TSA rules for flying with vapes and carts? We’re here to help you learn more about what is and is not accepted and what you need to do in order to bringing vapes with you when you travel.

In general, when traveling with your vaping devices such as e-cigarettes, vape mods, vape juice, or vape pens, they must travel with you on the plane either in your carryon bag, toiletry bag,  or in your pocket. This also applies to any lithium batteries. However, your extra liquid or pods can be placed in checked baggage. That being said, it’s important you always check the rules of the specific airline you’re traveling on as well as the rules for your destination, the TSA rules for vapes and whether it be in the U.S. or abroad.

What are the TSA Rules for Vapes and E-Cigarettes?

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has regulations regarding electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. The TSA Guidelines state that the FAA prohibits the following devices in checked baggage:

Instead, these items may only be carried onto the aircraft either in carry on bags or on your person. In addition, if you pack it in your carry-on baggage and then your bag is chosen to be checked at the gate, you must remove all electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.

They also note that you should check with your airline for any additional restrictions and that TSA officers get the final say on what’s allowed through the TSA checkpoint.

Bringing Vapes and E-Cigarettes through Airport Security

Before you fly and before checking your bag, there are some basic rules and procedures you should be familiar with. The reason FAA doesn’t allow these items to go in your checked baggage is that they can potentially cause fires in the cargo hold. This is why all electronic devices and vape batteries have to be carried onto the plane. This is a global rule with no exceptions. It is simply unsafe for them to travel in checked baggage. If you forget, then you’re liable to lose your devices and batteries, and as baggage handlers will have to get into your bag to remove the items after they’re identified on x-ray, your suitcase contents may not be as you packed them. There’s also a possibility that they may just leave your bag at your departure airport.

All aerosols, creams, gels, liquids, and pastes must be in bottles no larger than 100 mL. And they all must fit into a single 1-quart plastic bag. Please note that this holds true for all liquids, pastes, etc. So, they must fit inside the bag with any toothpaste, shampoo, hair product, deodorant, etc. If you have more than what will fit inside a 1-quart plastic bag that is allowed inside your carry-on luggage, consider checking a bag.

Flying with Liquids

It’s important to understand that changes in cabin pressure on an airplane can cause full bottles to expand, sometimes to the point of splitting open. This is why it’s always better to travel with bottles that are at least partially used. It’s also a good idea to double bag liquids to provide an extra level of protection against potential leaking.

On a similar note, don’t top off your tank before boarding the flight. There’s a good chance that it will leak during the flight. It’s better to travel with your tank at a maximum of half full. If you’re still worried about leakage, you can remove the tank and store it in a sealed bag.

Flying with Chargers

When traveling with vape battery chargers, they are allowed to travel in your checked baggage. However, it’s important that you don’t have any batteries in the charger when you check your bag. All batteries, even spare batteries, must be inside your carry-on baggage.

Flying with CBD Vapes/Devices

In general, the same rules apply to the CBD and cannabis vaping devices as nicotine devices. The major difference being that cannabis products such as flower or THC oil cartridges are not allowed on planes. In fact, it is hit or miss on even taking CBD products through the TSA checkpoint, even if your CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC, they may not be allowed through the checkpoint.

TSA doesn’t specifically search for illegal drugs. Instead, their policy is to turn over anything that seems suspicious to airport security. In most cases, airport security is part of the local police. Unfortunately, some CBD arrests do happen. Until the law is outlined very clearly, there’s always a risk that people might get arrested for things that aren’t overtly illegal. The safest thing you can do is to not bring it on the plane at all. The only clear exception is the use of Epidiolex, an FDA-approved drug for treating seizure disorders.

Flying with Marijuana/THC Vapes

Flying with cannabis or THC vapes or cartridges is against federal laws. Once you pass through the TSA checkpoint until you exit the airport at your destination you are subject to federal laws. This means that you could be charged with possession or worse. The TSA guidelines states that they don’t actively search for cannabis or THC but they will turn you and any questionable items over to airport security. While local authorities in some states and cities won’t care about cannabis or THC products, others will.

It is okay to fly with empty vape pens or vaporizers as long as they are completely free of all cannabis residue. This means that you would need to thoroughly clean every millimeter of the device inside and out. And, if there’s the slightest chance that a drug-sniffing dog might detect cannabis, it’s better to just leave the device at home. And, in some countries, even a clean device that has never been used may be considered to be illegal contraband.

Even if local authorities ultimately decide not to arrest you and instead let you go, you’ll still likely have to endure a thorough search, detailed interview with officers, and confiscation of your items.

Having a Back-Up Plan

If you’re concerned at all about traveling with your vape or e-cigarette then it’s best to err on the side of caution. Until laws are in place to protect cannabis users then it’s best to leave any cannabis devices and products at home. You can always purchase a device or product at your destination if it is legal there.

However, traveling with nicotine-based products is generally allowed as long as you follow all the rules regarding safely traveling with vapes and e-cigarettes. This includes not using your device while you’re on the airplane or in the airplane’s bathroom. Doing so is a federal offense. You must wait until you land, deplane, and make it to a designated area.

If you have additional questions, you can always consult with the airline you’re traveling on and they will be able to provide you with more details on the rules and regulations for traveling with different devices, liquids, and batteries.