Disposable and Zippo lighters are allowed on a plane as long as they contain no lighter fluid. You can bring lighters with fuel in them if they are put in a DOT approved case. Regardless of the lighter type, you can only get 2 in your carry on, and lighters are not permitted in your checked bag.
Traveling with things like lighters can be confusing. While most people assume they are not allowed to bring them on planes, this is not true.
In this article, I will review the rules around bringing lighters with you in your carry on or checked bag. As a former flight attendant, I have gone through airport security countless times and am familiar with all the TSA rules.
We will go over what happens at security when you bring a lighter, rules on different types of lighters, and what a DOT approved case is.
Table of Contents
- Are Lighters Allowed in Your Carry on Luggage?
- What Happens if a Lighter is Found in Your Carry On Luggage?
- What are DOT Approved Cases for Lighters?
- What Happens if a Lighter is Found in Your Checked Bags?
- FAQs About Traveling with Lighters
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Are Lighters Allowed in Your Carry on Luggage?
You can bring up to 2 disposable and zippo lighters on a plane as long as they contain no lighter fluid. Other lighters like torch lighters, arc lighters, plasma lighters, and butane lighters have different rules. The TSA website states they are allowed in your carry-on luggage if “Effective measures have been taken to prevent unintentional activation of the heating element while on board the aircraft.”
What they mean by this is that depending on the battery type, you have done something like remove the battery, put them in a protective cover (see DOT section below), or have a locking device on the lighter. Lithium batteries cannot be more powerful than 100Wh; lithium metal batteries can contain no more than 2 grams of lithium.
One of the main concerns with security is not so much the lighter itself but having flammable liquid or gas on the plane. Lighters are inherently a fire hazard, so to have a lighter on a plane, the rules are in place to make them as safe as possible.
You can pack disposable lighters like non-refillable Bic lighters, and non-torch lighters are permitted in your carry-on baggage. Lithium battery-powered lighters are allowed in your carry-on bags and are not permitted in any checked luggage.
If you are flying internationally remember different countries have different rules so make sure you check the rules at your destination before leaving home.
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What Happens if a Lighter is Found in Your Carry On Luggage?
If a lighter is found in your carry on luggage, the TSA agent will check to see if it has fuel in the lighter, and if it’s empty, you won’t have any problems. They will then see if it is one of the lighters allowed in your carry on, such as a disposable lighter or zippo.
There is also the option to carry a lighter in a DOT approved case which should have a stamp indicating the DOT has approved it. Regardless of the type of lighter, there is a maximum of 2 lighters permitted per person. Anything not following TSA specifications will be confiscated and destroyed.
For packing tips, check out our article on how to pack a carry on bag.
What are DOT Approved Cases for Lighters?
A DOT-approved case is a case that the Department of Transportation approved to transport a lighter safely in your carry-on. Each case must only include one lighter; you can put up to one lighter in each case.
Otter box has one for Zippo lighters, but you would have to go to a specialty store as they are not readily available on Amazon. Other DOT-approved lighter makers include Zippo Colibir, Prometheus, and Zippo Lighters.
This lighter case is for a standard Bic lighter. Cases like this make it easier and safer to bring a lighter on a plane with fuel.
What Happens if a Lighter is Found in Your Checked Bags?
If you pack a torch lighter or a butane lighter in a protective case that is DOT approved, then you should be fine to pack them in your checked bags. The TSA-imposed maximum of 2 lighters still applies, so if there are more than two lighter total, the extra ones will likely be confiscated.
Arc lighters or electronic lighters are not allowed in checked bags ever, and if they are found in your checked bags, they will be confiscated.
One question I was asked once that stuck with me was what about “gun lighters”? Could I pack one of those? My response was don’t pack anything shaped like a weapon in your carry on or checked bags. You will end up in secondary screening, and it will probably be confiscated.
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FAQs About Traveling with Lighters
Can you Bring Matches on a Plane?
The TSA’s rules allow you to bring one small box or book of safety matches in your carry on. These are matches that require you to use a strip on the box to light them. Strike-anywhere matches are not allowed on aircraft. This rule is the same for most countries, but it’s always best to double-check the regulations of any destination or transit country.
Can You Take Lighters on a Plane in Your Suitcase?
You can bring disposable lighters and Zippo lighters without fuel in your carry on bags or checked luggage. If the lighter is properly enclosed in a DOT approved case you can bring a lighter with fuel in your carry on bag. In either case, the maximum number of lighters permitted is two.
Can I Travel with a Bic Lighter?
You can bring Bic lighters on a plane in your hand luggage if it contains no fuel. If the lighter has fuel, it must be stored in a DOT approved case. The same is true if you are traveling with a Zippo lighter. The same rules apply if you plan to pack your Bic lighter in your checked bags.
Can You Fly with Cigarettes and a Lighter?
There are no restrictions on flying with cigarettes domestically. To bring a lighter on a plane, you must ensure it is contained in a DOT approved case or is a Bic or Zippo lighter with no lighter fuel. Tobacco restrictions vary among international destinations, so check those rules if you fly internationally. If you return to the US from an international destination, you will be restricted to 200 cigarettes annually.
See my article on when you can bring cigarettes on a plane for more info.
Now you are equipped with all the information you need to answer “Can you take a lighter on a plane?” I hope this helps you pack with more confidence.
(Cover Image: Kekyalyaynen / Shutterstock)