Flying in an airplane is a marvelous, miraculous, terrifying, dangerous thing to do, and the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is tasked with making it as safe as possible. For most people, that means jokes about tiny shampoo bottles and objections to invasive pat-downs, but for those of us who vape, TSA regulations about carrying vaping equipment on planes can be confusing and concerning.
As much as it might seem like these regulations are put there only to annoy those of us who vape, there are some important reasons - beyond the possibility of terrorism - for securing your vape gear properly, mostly the risk of fire in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Whatever you personally think about the TSA, many of these rules are actually for your safety, and actually pretty important! Plus, the last thing you want is to get to your destination and not be able to vape after a long flight, so let's sort out exactly what you can and can't bring with you, so nothing gets confiscated or left behind, and you don't miss your flight.
Before we begin, though, it's important to note that different airlines and airports may have different rules, and all of the rules we mention below only apply to United States flights. It's always a good idea to check with your airline and airport before you fly, and certainly to check the TSA's excellent What Can I Bring? page. And remember: final authority regarding what can and can’t be brought on the plane rests with the TSA agent at the gate, not with you or me, or even the TSA website!
That said, here's how things stand for flying with vape equipment in early 2018.
The FAA specifically prohibits placing mods, electronic cigarettes, vape pens, vaporizers, atomizers, et cetera in checked baggage. You should always carry your mods in your carry-on luggage, and if you check any carry-on bags at the gate or planeside, make absolutely certain to remove your vaping devices first! We recommend always removing batteries from mods where possible; for internal battery mods, remove the atomizer, and make absolutely certain the mod is shut entirely off. The current TSA policy on vaping devices is always available on the Electronic Cigarettes and Vaping Devices section of their What Can I Bring? page.
These follow exactly the same rules as mods, whether you have a tank atomizer, a rebuildable tank atomizer (RTA or RDTA), or a rebuildable dripping atomizer (RDA): these devices are not allowed in checked baggage, and should always be in carry-on luggage, instead. Pressure differences during flight can cause some designs of atomizer to leak, and you don't want them installed on your mod, anyway, so always remove your atomizer and place it in a resealable bag in your carry-on. If possible, simply empty your atomizer of e-liquid before placing it in the bag, so there’s no possibility of wasting an entire tank’s worth of vape juice!
Carry-On or Checked Baggage
Vape batteries can be checked or carried on (note this does not include internal-battery mods; see above!), but must be protected from short (we highly recommend the use of battery cases), and secured from accidental discharge. Never, ever, ever fly with a damaged or shorted battery - which you should dispose of immediately anyway. Not only is it forbidden to fly with damaged batteries, it's also incredibly dangerous. When in doubt, check the PHMSA Battery Traveling Restrictions to make certain.
Carry-On or Checked Baggage
Whether you're calling it e-juice, vape juice, or e-liquid, it's still a liquid, and thus follows the TSA's Liquids Rule. In short, this means all carry-on liquids must be in a container less than 100 ml (3.4 oz) in capacity, and must be placed in a quart-sized resealable bag. Containers larger than 100 ml (3.4 ounces) must be in your checked baggage, no matter how empty or full that container is. So if you're flying with one of Mister-E-Liquid's mammoth 135 ml bottles, you're going to have to check those; for flying, might we recommend the 65 ml or our signature 30 ml bottle?
Varies (see below)
When in doubt, check it. Beyond that, anything sharp should always be checked, and should be well-wrapped for TSA agents' safety. Screwdrivers can be kept in carry-on luggage, but only if they're shorter than 7 inches; longer screwdrivers should always be checked. Multitools should always be in checked baggage. Remember, vaping is very new, and builders are very rare: the TSA agent may have no way of knowing what your build tools are for, and someone flying around with lots of pliers, side cutters, and wiring is likely to get a second look. Play it safe, and check your build kit, or at the very least, double-check the Household and Tools section of the TSA's What Can I Bring? page.
A plea from us to you!
And one last note about flying with your vape gear, and I know this is a tough one. Given that you're required by law to keep your mod / vaporizer / electronic cigarette in your carry-on, it's tempting to stealth yourself some vaping while you're on the plane. Please, just don't. Particularly on a plane, just treat vaping like smoking - even though you and I both know it's not. Vaping in the closed, controlled environment of an airplane is against FAA regulations, and plus it's also just kinda rude - or at least, it's perceived that way. People aren't going to understand what you're doing, and plus, we're making our smoking friends jealous. Wait 'til you're on the ground, please, for your sake, for their sake, and for the sake of the vaping community.