The United States Transportation Department stated Wednesday they are permanently banning passengers and crew members from carrying electronic cigarettes in checked baggage or charging the devices on-board aircraft. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx cited a number of recent incidents showing the devices catching fire during transport. He went on to state:
Passengers may continue to carry e-cigarettes for personal use in carry-on baggage or on their person, but may not use them during flights.. Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous. Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent and important safety measure.
The new rule covers battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices to include e-cigarettes, e-cigars and e-pipes, but does not prohibit passengers from transporting other devices containing batteries for personal use like laptop computers or cell phones. The new rule makes the temporary ban, instituted in November, permanent.
- In August 2014, an e-cigarette in a passenger’s checked bag, within an aircraft cargo hold, caused a fire forcing an evacuation of the plane at Boston’s Logan Airport.
- In January 2015, a checked bag that arrived late and missed its connecting flight was found to be on fire in a baggage area at Los Angeles International Airport. The incident was blamed on an overheated e-cigarette within the bag.
The government stated the danger has worsened by the growing trend of users modifying and rebuilding their reusable e-cigarette devices and swapping components, which may include the use of batteries, heating elements, and electronic components. In March, the U.S. Transportation Department separately banned the use of electronic cigarettes on commercial flights. The Transportation Department stated it took the action to eliminate any confusion over whether its existing ban on smoking on flights includes electronic cigarettes. Congress banned all smoking on airline flights in 2000, and no U.S. airline allowed electronic cigarette use. But the Transportation Department said some charter flights may have allowed the practice.