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Smoking Your E-Cigarette On an Airplane

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smoking sign on airplane

What About Vaping?

Those who have discovered the benefits of electronic cigarette smoking or “vaping”, are boldly going where no smoker has gone before. They’re vaping in restaurants, bars and even airports.

My popular article, “How to Smoke Your Electronic Cigarette in Public”, has given many e-smokers the courage and ammunition to do so; however, smoking on airplanes is still a sticky issue. 

This article reports findings gathered from major airlines and the FAA as to policies regarding vaping onboard or carrying electronic cigarettes and liquids onboard.  It also includes helpful information gathered from e-cigarette smokers who have dared to smoke their e-cigarette on a flight. 

The Rules of the Game

According to FAA regulations, smoking a lighted cigarette or anything that produces smoke or flame is prohibited onboard most commercial aircrafts; however, the FAA has not as yet (March 2014) issued a regulation for or against electronic cigarettes, leaving that decision up to the individual airlines.

 

Flight Attendant -Cloud Nine

Flight Attendants Rule

Officially, no airline openly permits vaping any ecig you choose; however, it is NOT illegal – it is only against company policy. There is a BIG difference between the two. Company policy is enforced by your friendly (or not so friendly) flight attendant. 

Checking the websites of all major Airlines (and then some), I found only three to date -  Japan airlines, Airtran and KLM who do in fact, address the e-cigarette issue directly on their sites. Here’s what KLM has to say

“All KLM flights are non-smoking flights. Smoking is not permitted at any place or at any time on board our aircraft. This also applies to artificial cigarettes”.

Funny that they chose to use the word “artificial” rather than “electronic”.

Airtran says -

“In addition to smoking, the use of chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes are not permitted onboard any scheduled or private charter AirTran Airways flight.”

I must admit, I’m relieved that the fat guy sitting next to me on my next flight to Miami isn’t going to spit tobacco into his cocktail napkin.

V2 Cigs electronic cigarettes - Don't Quit, Switch - See why millions have switched to V2!

Japan Airlines posts this disclaimer on their site -

“Smoking is strictly prohibited through out the cabin including restrooms. The use of smoking devices without ignition such as “E-cigarette” is also prohibited as it may interrupt other passengers’ comfort or it may cause the misunderstanding among other passengers. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”

Unfortunately it is this “misunderstanding ” that stops some airlines from allowing e-cigarette use, not any FAA regulation.

Calling the Airlines Directly

Since most websites did not address the issue, I called all the major airlines to inquire about their policy on the use of electronic cigarettes. True, I grew a few underarm cobwebs in the process, but my readers are worth such minor inconveniences. 

As of this post, the major airlines that specifically say they do not permit the use of electronic cigarettes inflight   are – Continental, American, Japan, KLM, Airtran, Delta , Southwest, United, Northwest, All Nippon Airways, US Airways, British Airways, Quantas, Iberia, Korean Air, American West Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air China, Air Canada, SAS, KLM, Japan Airlines, Emirates, EasyJet, China Southern, Alaska/Horizon Air, Saudi Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Lufthansa, and Thai airlines.

 

Ask a Flight Attendant - Cloud Nine

Ask, and you may get the right answer

On almost every call, I was put on a brief hold so the agent could check with another employee. They returned only to restate the standard generic reply, “We have a completely non-smoking policy”. 

The Saudi Arabian airline official (a very pleasant gentleman) who thanked me for asking such an interesting question, at first thought it would be permitted since he knew e-cigs were not “real”; however, after consulting with the higher-ups, he confirmed that Saudi Airlines did not officially permit electronic cigarettes. He did add that if a passenger requested permission on-board with the flight attendant, they may have more success.

It IS legal to bring your 2-part electronic cigarettes on-board!  

Some people have been stopped by security trying to bring their e-cigarette liquid on-board. They must have either forgotten the 3oz bottle rule or their zip-lock bag was jumbo rather than quart sized. In any case, all liquids must be carried on according to airlines regulations. Personally, I prefer the newer, more sanitary 2-part electronic cigarettes or disposable e-cigarettes.  Green Smoke V2 cigs , and practically all those listed on our e-cigarette comparison chart offer them. You don’t have to re-fill rechargeable e-cigs with messy liquids that may get confiscated at airports.

More recently, airlines have advised NOT to put lithium batteries in your “checked-in” suitcase so carry your e-cigarettes in your carry-on luggage!

Be Cool

Keeping a very low profile is the key to vaping on an airplane. You don’t want to cause any concern to fellow passengers. I know many electronic cigarette vapers who have successfully used the products on-board airlines where the no e-cig policy is stipulated in writing,.. even if the telephone agents say “no smoking policy”. 

The Secrets of Success 

Here are Cloud Nine’s suggestions for smoking your e-cigarette on an airplane:

Vapor Couture electronic cigarettes - the world's only ecig for women!-Vape Designer E-Cigarettes, Making it Obvious You’re Not Smoking

Show your designer e-cigarette to your neighbor and tell them it has no flame, no ash and no smell. Usually people are more intrigued than annoyed, and they want to see how it works.  Green Smoke, V2 Cigs, Vapor Couture and Premium Vapes, all offer e-cigarettes in designer colors and designs so your cigarette doesn’t look real…just pretty! The above mentioned companies always have discount sales, so having a fancy e-cigarette battery for travel purposes is justified (at least by my shopping rules).

Don’t try to vape your massive MOD e-cigarette on a plane. You don’t want to scare granny; any anyway the visible e-juice won’t get through security. 

2- Stay Educated 

Another good way to reduce passenger fears and misconceptions about e-cigarettes is to know about the latest findings. Many people are fearful of second hand vapor, but studies now show that it’s poses no apparent risk to human health. Read this report on second-hand vapor. 

3- Make Friends With the Flight Attendant

While it’s always good manners, it has been recommended to exchange pleasantries with the flight attendant. Then, after she or he serves you a beverage and snack, ask if you may use your e-cigarette if you promise not to blow vapor into the aisle or into your seat-mate’s face. If you’re lucky you may get the attendant’s support but if you’re sitting in coach it’s no longer likely he or she will comply.

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3- Sit in Business or First Class
If you are seated in business or first class, particularly on a long flight, your chances are a better at obtaining permission to use your e-cigarette.  It’s also easier for the attendant to discreetly ask others nearby if they would mind seeing your water vapor demonstration. Don’t be surprised if someone doesn’t want to try out your e-cig too.

Learn About Green Smoke’s Sanitary Tips for Sharing Your E-Cigarette

If You Don’t Like Confrontation….There Are Other Ways to Vape on a Plane

Katy Perry - Cloud Nine

Proper attire for vaping on a plane. 10 points for guessing who this is. (comment below)

4- Keep A Low Profile

You can choose to be more secretive. Sit in a window seat and face the window. Cover the e-cigarette with your hand. Do NOT let your vapor rise above your seat… or simply exhale into a napkin, or up your sleeve. 

5- Go to the Bathroom

airplane lavatory door

Do you dare to vape?

Many people have smoked their electronic cigarette in the lavatory, although it is against airline policy (so don’t mention my name). Most smoke detectors are not sensitive to water vapor smoke, but I have recently learned of in incident where it did go off on Emirates Airlines, so vape discretely.  I would not attempt blow the vapor near the detector.

E-cigarette vapor disappears within seconds, so there’s no lingering cloud left when you leave the loo.

Some people blessed with the olfactory glands of a bloodhound think e-cigs leave a slight flavor smell. If true, the worst that could happen is that the bathroom will smell like chocolate and people will be impressed.

The One Airline That Says “Yes”…. with a catch.

Ryanair flight attendants

Ryanair flight attendants. They look friendly enough.

Ryanair, the Irish airline that “conquered” the European market with its amazing low fares, is the one airline that permits the use of electronic cigarettes, but there’s a catch – they are Ryanair’s version of the e-cigarette and you have to purchase them on-board.

In 2009 the airline started offering passengers over the age of 18, disposable “smokeless cigarettes” for about $8.75 (€6) for a pack of ten. According to Ryanair company spokesman, Stephen McNamara, when smokers can get their nicotine, everybody wins. McNamara concludes,

“As these cigarettes are smokeless, they cause no discomfort to other passengers and can ensure a more enjoyable and stress-free flight for all passengers as non-smokers will no longer have to cope with moody smokers in need of nicotine.” 

Note : The Ryanair website does not mention e-cigarettes specifically. E-cigarettes are not on the list of their permitted electronic items. In trying to get an update on their smoking policy I discovered that the only telephone number available is their direct line to Ireland, which in my case would be an international call.  The website does not offer a Customer Service e-mail either.

The bottom line is that most airlines prefer to disallow all cigarettes, including the smokeless and electronic ones. Unfortunately the reason for this is not because they believe electronic cigarettes pose a danger to flight systems, but simply because they produce a vapor that may be mistaken for smoke and that may alarm some passengers.

Awareness of the true nature of the product and its benefits including the benign impact on the environment is the key to success not only for smokers but for commercial airlines as well.  If the airlines received more inquiries from e-smokers it would create a greater awareness of smokeless cigarettes and their growing popularity.

As this remarkable product becomes mainstream; as more tests prove that second-hand vapor is harmless, as more scientists submit tests that ecigs are safe to vape and as sales and positive press continues to grow , airlines may become more positive and proactive regarding the acceptance of these new devices.  Airline competition is certainly on the increase and there is a whole new market of e-cigarette smokers out there.

If you have successfully (or unsuccessfully) used an electronic cigarette in flight, we’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment below. 

Important!

If you have visited Heathrow Airports new Vaping Lounge, please let us know if you thought it was humiliating or enlightening.

Other Articles of Interest

E-Cigarette TV Commercials Make a Strong Case for Switching to ECigs

The Top 5 Electronic Cigarettes of 2014 Reviewed

V2 Cigs electronic cigarettes - best ecigs worldwide

About the author

Hillary Hillary Miles, Cloud Nine’s editor and contributing author is an Emmy award-winning national television writer, producer and marketing expert whose clients have included HGTV, The Food Network, CNN, TBS, TNT and The Cartoon Network. Follow Hillary on Google+

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About the author

Hillary

Hillary Miles, Cloud Nine’s editor and contributing author is an Emmy award-winning national television writer, producer and marketing expert whose clients have included HGTV, The Food Network, CNN, TBS, TNT and The Cartoon Network.

Follow Hillary on
Google+

73 comments

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  1. Chris H.

    Thanks for your comment, Yeah right and for pointing out that the FDA is now reviewing scientific data about ecig safety. Unfortunately the public has not, and has been bombarded with more fear mongering than solid information about tobacco harm reduction.

    As for profits, it’s little ecig companies against big pharma. Big tobacco has come onboard because they see the future, but there is much debate about whether they will destroy the industry in doing so.

    Will e-cigarettes ever been deemed 100 safe? Perhaps not. Will caffeine? (which is now believed to be as dangerous as nicotine). Will pesticide usage? Will the germ laden air on airplanes? Our view is that the anti-ecig groups are recognizing the fact that people are giving up tobacco for an alternative that they perceive be less harmful. Anti tobacco harm reduction (THC) groups don’t like it because they see a commercial product that has achieved in 1 year, what the medical and political community failed to do in ten years.

    As for the small amount of nicotine in e-cigarette vapor that may worry passengers in planes, we’ll have to wait to see if it’s more worrisome than caffeine vapor from hot coffee. I also understand people may not want to smell vanilla or chocolate, but most find those aromas more pleasant than cheap cologne, or microwaved Hawaiian chicken.

  2. Yeah right

    @ chris h

    It has not been proven that there is no danger from second hand vapor, that is something that may take a while to confirm.

    http://www.hngn.com/articles/35542/20140708/fda-funds-several-research-projects-to-determine-real-e-cigarette-risks.htm

    Lets not forget that traditional cigarettes, for many decades, were actually thought to be good for you and were even recommended by doctors.

    People who profit from the tobacco and pharm. industry???

    E cigs made a profit of one billion dollars last year in the USA alone. Something the Big three tobacco companies are already investing in, either by making their own, or swallowing up smaller manufacturers. Every maker of e cigarettes will tell you that they are safe for everyone because they all want a taste of that profit.

    There is a small amount of nicotine in the vapor from e cigs. And whatever view you have, whether it is harmful or not, is beside the point. Most People do not want nicotine floating about them, especially in a closed atmosphere such as a plane. As for the odour, some people don’t like the smell of vanilla or chocolate.

  3. Chris H.

    @CathyB – You should be grateful if your nephew has gone from 2 packs of cigarettes to e-cigarettes. It’s a known fact that ecigs save lives which is really what they are about. It’s also been proven by several highly reputable scientists that there is NO danger in second hand smoke. The FDA is now aware of this as they are reviewing the true scientific evidence about e-cigarette safety and their potential to save millions of lives. The truth will soon overshadow the lies being spread to the press by those who profit from the tobacco and pharmaceutical industry. The world should be cheering ecigs, not condemning them as there is finally an effective product that helps people get off killer tobacco.

    As for vaping on planes, there are tons of articles out there (and on this website) that talk about ecig ingredients and the smell of the water vapor. There is NO tobacco in ecigarettes. There may be some nicotine, but that has no odor. The smell all depends on the FDA approved food flavorings in the eliquid. Frankly I would much rather smell vanilla or chocolate than the nauseating aroma of cologne or perfume coming off another passenger. Airlines should ban that!

    I do understand your indignation that vapers may be using the bathroom for something other than doing “toileting”. If airlines would permit vaping zones that would easily solve that problem.

  4. CathyB

    I don’t agree with e-cigarettes being smoked on planes, what about other people around them? The smell from these devices smell like cigarettes (according to my sister in law – whose son smokes 2 packs a day), and they cause me considerable discomfort, having had a serious lung condition and now diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. How many other people have heart and/or lung conditions may be travelling on the same plane? Of course you can’t answer that one can you? And another thing, why hog the rest room when other people may actually want to use it for the purpose it is for? Some people I know have bowel and bladder conditions and may want the toilet, unfortunately they can’t get there because selfish smokers are giving into their addiction and hogging it!

  5. Gary D

    You are welcome!

  6. Johnf340

    I truly appreciate this post. I’ve been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thank you again!

  7. E Dewar

    Where does it say she has fallen to your level by arrogantly breaking airline rules?

  8. Hillary

    Hi E,

    Yes you guessed it! It’s Katy Perry one of our favorite celebrity vapers. Sorry to disappoint you but she’s on our side. http://ecigarettenews.net/?p=2177

  9. E Dewar

    “mysterious hooded airplane vaper in the photo”

    Its Katy Perry and she is covering herself to try and avoid the hassle of being a Celeb’ walking through an airport.

    She is NOT a sneaky, underhand deceitful vaper that you can pretend is on your side.

  10. Hillary

    Hi Chris – She does look like Kristen Stewart! But, no.. it’s not Ms. Stewart.

  11. Chris

    Kristen Stewart

  12. Hillary

    Hi mnz – If your comment refers to the identity of the mysterious hooded airplane vaper in the photo, I’m sorry to say it is not Victoria Beckham, but since you are the first to even venture a guess,.. i’ll give you 8 points! :)

    Happy vaping!

    Hillary

  13. mnz

    Victoria Beckham

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