Taking Vapes on a Plane: Luggage, Quantity & Airport Security

Published May 3rd 2023
Learn about air travel with electronic cigarettes.
Air Travel with Vapes cover image of passenger walking though airport

Taking vapes on a plane is a process that many holidaymakers consider when preparing to travel by aircraft. Questions surrounding the number of vapes you can take on a plane, how to pack e-cigarettes, which luggage to pack them in and how to pass through airport security with vapes are often asked because e-cigarettes contain metal components, battery cells and e-liquids which can be confusing for users to navigate in compliance with airline regulations and security protocols.

The main rule to remember when travelling with an e-cigarette is that you must carry any battery-powered vape in your hand luggage and make it available for inspection at airport security checkpoints. The same is true for any accompanying liquids or e-liquids under 100ml. Conversely, any e-liquid exceeding 100ml must be stored in your checked baggage after you have carefully packed it to avoid any potential leakage.

Vapes go in your hand luggage because the International Air Transport Association (IATA) classifies electronic cigarettes (vapes) as “Portable Electronic Devices” (PEDs) that pose a fire risk if placed in the cargo hold rather than in your hand luggage where any potential risk can be mitigated by the trained flight crew.

There are also some internationally prohibited behaviours when it comes to air travel with a vape, such as the act of charging a vape onboard an aircraft. But some airlines have tighter regulations than the IATA with regard to the number of vapes or spare vape batteries that can be taken onboard their aircraft.

The act of vaping electronic cigarettes or smoking traditional cigarettes is prohibited by all airlines across the globe. However, passengers are welcome to vape in designated vaping areas located in or around international airports.

Can You Take a Vape on a Plane?

Yes, you can take your vape on a plane, but you must carry it in your cabin hand luggage rather than putting it in your checked baggage that gets stored in the aircraft cargo hold. This is because all types of vapes (mods, ecigs, rechargeable pod kits and disposable vapes) are considered “Portable Electronic Devices” (PEDs) that contain lithium-ion batteries, which can catch fire in certain circumstances. As such, they must always be in your possession when travelling rather than unsupervised in your checked suitcase (hold luggage).

Specifically in the context of e-cigarettes, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published an EASA Safety Information Bulletin on 6 July 2015 titled “Fire Risk of Electronic Cigarettes in Checked Baggage”. In that bulletin, the EASA recommends that aircraft operators require passengers to carry e-cigarettes in the cabin, where an incident can be immediately mitigated, and not in their checked baggage. The bulletin further recommends prohibiting recharging e-cigarettes on board the aircraft.

This e-cigarette-specific air travel restriction was also enforced by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) by way of amendment to the 2015-2016 edition of its “Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air” (ICAO Doc 9284). The amendment prohibits passengers and crew from carrying e-cigarettes and other battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in checked baggage. The amendment also prohibits recharging the devices in aircraft cabins.

Further recommendations from the “Dangerous Goods” guidance issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) include, individually protecting these devices to prevent short circuits, for example, by keeping them in their original packaging, placing each battery in a separate plastic bag or protective pouch, or taping over exposed terminals.

The below infographic from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency highlights the main facts and risks surrounding lithium batteries that you should consider when travelling with e-cigarettes or disposable vapes.

Infographic from the EASA giving guidance on lithium batteries

When it comes to quantifying the risk of a fire caused by batteries in PEDs such as e-cigarettes, Laura Bravo Diaz et al. explain in a research paper titled “Review of Fire Safety of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Industry Challenges and Research Contributions” in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society that, in the case of air carriage, while the probability of a cell fire is low in regular conditions, the severity of a fire incident may be high if large quantities of cells are carried together. As such, even if the risk is low, the severity of such a fire is the main factor that regulators like the EASA, IATA and ICAO consider when drafting rules surrounding PEDs like e-cigarettes.

How Many Vapes Can You Take on a Plane?

You can take a maximum of 15 vapes on a plane if your vape has a built-in battery, such as with disposable vapes and most rechargeable pod vapes. If you are using a modular vape that utilises removable batteries, then you are permitted to take a maximum of 20 spare vape batteries onboard a plane. In any event, you must only store e-cigarettes in your carry-on baggage (hand luggage) as specified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in their guidance titled “Passengers Travelling With Lithium Batteries”.

The below table from that IATA guidance helps to clarify the number of battery-powered vapes (defined in this context as “Portable Electronic Devices” or “PED”) and spare vape batteries that you can take onboard an aeroplane in your hand luggage. It is important to note that some airlines will have more stringent rules regarding the number of vapes permitted on-board the aircraft.

Wh Rating or Lithium Metal Content Configuration Carry-on Baggage Checked Baggage Operator Approval
≤ 100 Wh / ≤ 2g In equipment (PED or PMED) Yes (max 15 PED/PMED) Yes No
Spare battery(ies) Yes (max 20 spare batteries) No No
>100 to ≤160Wh In equipment (PED or PMED) Yes Yes Yes
Spare battery(ies) Yes (max 2 spare batteries) No Yes
>160Wh Must be prepared and carried as cargo in accordance with the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations
> 2g ≤ 8g In equipment (PMED only) Yes Yes Yes
Spare batteries for PMED Yes (max 2 spare batteries) No Yes

Can You Recharge Your Vape on a Plane?

No, you cannot recharge your vape device and/or batteries while on board an aircraft. The “Passengers Travelling With Lithium Batteries” guidance published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) strictly prohibits you from recharging e-cigarette batteries while on a plane. Most airlines also directly prohibit charging your vape aboard their aircraft and often announce this during the safety briefing prior to departure.

Taking Your Vapes on Airlines

Below is a table detailing airline policies of each of the most popular airlines in the context of taking vapes on a plane.

Airline Carry-On Luggage Additional Restrictions Beyond IATA Guidance Checked Luggage (Hold Luggage) Use Onboard
EasyJet Yes Only 2 spare batteries permitted No No
Ryanair Yes E-cigs must be kept on your person. You must remove the battery if you want to place them in an overhead locker No No
British Airways Yes Must be packaged to prevent accidental activation No No
Virgin Atlantic Yes Electronic cigarettes (including e-cigars, e-pipes, other personal vaporizers) containing batteries must be individually protected to prevent accidental activation. For flights to and from India, e-cigarettes are not permitted. No No
Emirates Yes E-cigarettes containing batteries must be individually protected to prevent accidental activation. No No
TUI Airways Yes None No No
Qantas Yes Must be protected to prevent accidental activation No No
Jet2 Yes E-cigarettes must be individually protected No No
Lufthansa Yes E-cigarettes must be individually protected and stowed away during the entire flight No No
KLM Yes An electronic cigarette and extra batteries are permitted if you keep them on you personally during your flight No No
Aer Lingus Yes Must be individually protected to prevent accidental activation No No

Can You Take Vape Juice on a Plane?

Yes, you can take vape juice on a plane if the container volume of your e-liquid does not exceed 100ml. Most e-liquids used in rechargeable pod kits are contained in a 10ml bottle, so you can carry them onboard an aircraft in your hand luggage (carry-on baggage). However, e-liquids for modular vape devices (tanks & mods) tend to have a container size of 100ml or greater. If your vape juice container is greater than 100ml, then it must be packed in your checked luggage (hold luggage). According to the “Luggage Restrictions” guidance published by the European Commission, no container carried in hand luggage may hold more than 100 ml of liquid other than medicines, baby food, and sealed liquids from duty-free.

Unlike the battery cell and metal-containing components of your vape device, airports categorise liquids for vape devices as any other liquid when it comes to air travel. If your vape liquid container does not exceed 100ml and you decide to travel with it as part of your hand luggage (carry-on bag), you must carry it in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag of up to 20cm x 20cm in size in accordance with the European Commission guidance.

The below video published by London Luton Aiport helps to visualise the process of presenting your liquids in a compliant manner.

Taking E-Cigs Through UK Airport Security

Below is a step-by-step guide in the context of taking your modular vapes, pod kits or disposable vapes through security at a UK airport.

  1. Pack your e-cig properly: Pack your disposable vape, e-cig and/or any spare batteries for your modular vape in your carry-on luggage, not in your checked baggage. As per the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations, lithium batteries can pose a fire risk in the cargo hold of the plane.
  2. Follow the liquid restrictions: E-liquids are subject to the same liquid restrictions as other items in your carry-on luggage. They must be in containers no larger than 100ml and should fit comfortably within a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag of up to 20cm x 20cm in size. This bag should be presented separately at security. Any e-liquids exceeding 100ml should be packed securely in your checked baggage.
  3. Put pods and disposable vapes in the same transparent bag: As refillable pods and disposable vape devices contain e-liquid, airport security staff may consider the components or the entire vape device itself a liquid container and may therefore require them to also be presented in a single transparent, resealable plastic bag.
  4. Dismantle modular vape devices if necessary: If your e-cig is particularly large or complicated, consider dismantling it prior to reaching the security checkpoint. This can make the security process smoother as the security personnel will be able to see what the item is more clearly.
  5. Take Your Vape Out at Airport Security: When you reach the security checkpoint, you must take out your vape and place it in the security tray. If you are unsure about how to present your vapes, you should declare your disposable vape, pod kit or vape mod and any spare batteries to the security officer. They will guide you on what to do next. You may be asked to remove these items from the security tray for separate screening.
  6. Follow all security instructions: Listen to all instructions from security officers and comply with them promptly. It is important to remain respectful to airport security staff as the safety of all passengers is their primary concern.
  7. Keep your e-cig off during the flight: Once on the plane, you should keep your vape mod or pod kit off at all times. For vapes that cannot be turned off, such as disposable vape devices, you should keep them stowed away during the flight. Using any type of vape at any time during the flight is strictly prohibited, as is charging it.

Can You Smoke Electronic Cigarettes on Planes?

No, you cannot vape (smoke) electronic cigarettes on airplanes. Even though vapes are allowed on flights, the act of vaping or related activities such as smoking cigarettes has been banned for over 30 years due to the adverse health effects and safety hazards that flight attendants and passengers are exposed to.

In a research paper titled “Clearing the airways: advocacy and regulation for smoke-free airlines” published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), A L Holm and R M Davis explain that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) approved a resolution in 1992 to eliminate smoking on international commercial flights by 1 July 1996. A final ban on all domestic and international US Flights was implemented in 2000, by which point 97.7% of all US international flights had already banned smoking on board an aeroplane. The final international airlines to implement their own smoking bans were Emirates, Middle East Airlines, Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines between the years 2001 and 2002.

Can You Vape In Airports?

No, you cannot vape inside airports due to health considerations, fire safety related to the activation of lithium-ion batteries in vapes, and to keep regulations consistent with the ban on smoking in airports avoiding confusion and making the rules easier to enforce.

In the context of health considerations, while e-cigarettes do not produce the same kind of smoke as traditional cigarettes, some studies have suggested that the aerosols they emit may pose a potential health risk by way of second-hand emissions. A study published in the National Library of Medicine by Jolanda Palmisani et al. titled “Evaluation of Second-Hand Exposure to Electronic Cigarette Vaping under a Real Scenario: Measurements of Ultrafine Particle Number Concentration and Size Distribution and Comparison with Traditional Tobacco Smoke” examined the effect of second-hand aerosol from e-cigarettes on indoor air quality, focusing on ultrafine particles (UFPs). After comparing vaping and tobacco smoke, the research found that a 20-minute vaping session increased UFPs concentration in the air, but still less than traditional cigarettes. This study indicates that bystanders could potentially inhale nano-sized particles with high penetration capacity into the human respiratory system.

Conversely, in an evidence update published by Kings College London titled “Nicotine vaping in England: an evidence update including health risks and perceptions, September 2022” Prof Ann McNeill et al. clarified that acute secondhand exposure to vaping aerosol has been shown to result in non-significant changes in levels of toxicant biomarkers.

Due to contradicting studies such as those described above, it is clear that more research is needed in the field of second-hand vaping exposure, but in the meantime, vaping remains forbidden inside airports.

Airport Vaping Areas

An airport vaping area is a designated area of the airport where passengers are allowed to use electronic cigarettes. Most airport vaping areas also allow travellers to smoke traditional cigarettes. While vaping inside airports is not permitted, some vaping areas are now available in many international airports.

All the following airports: Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Luton, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Glasgow, Bristol, and Newcastle have designated vaping areas outside their terminal buildings or entrances. However, once past security and in the departure lounge, none of these airports provides smoking or vaping facilities.

Written by IndeJuice Editorial
Designed For Vapers