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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 very sticky issue. 

This article has been updated and 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 (June 2015) issued a regulation for or against electronic cigarettes, leaving that decision up to the individual airlines.….and they are getting stricter.

 

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.

When I first published this article in 2013 I found only three airlines – Japan airlines, Airtran and KLM who actually addressed the e-cigarette issue directly on their websites. Here’s what KLM had 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 said –

“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 was relieved that the fat guy sitting next to me on my next flight to Miami wasn’t going to spit tobacco into his cocktail napkin.

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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. 

Times have changed, and the public as well as airline officials are cracking down on vapers. Since flight attendants cannot easily distinguish between vapor from an ecig and a cabin fire, all major airlines have expanded their no-smoking policies to include in-flight vaping.

I fondly remember the day when airline representatives put me on hold so the agent could check with another employee about the airline’s e-cigarette policies. The word Vaping had not yet made it to the dictionary.

Ask a Flight Attendant - Cloud Nine

It IS legal to bring your 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. When I travel, I prefer taking one of my e-cig look-alikes 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 your cartomizer with 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

If you are a fearless daredevil and want to risk getting caught you had better keep a very low profile. I do know vapers who have successfully used the product on-board airlines but there have now been cases reported where vaping passengers were turned over to authorities at the destination airport. Luckily they got off with a warning. The police (or other authorities) get to decide if they’d like to charge you. Some countries are more tolerant of vapers; others, like Australia, are outright anti-vaping.

For Those Who Want to Flaunt Their ECigarettes

Since you can carry your ecig in your hand luggage, there’s no law that says you can’t flaunt it…as long as you don’t produce vapor. 


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1 – Educate your Neighbor

Show your designer e-cigarette to your seat mate and tell them about the merits of ecigs and why it’s nothing like a cigarette. After all it has no flame, no ash and no smell. Usually people are more intrigued than annoyed. They will of course, want to see how it works, but save your demonstration for later. In case you were wondering,  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! 

Don’t flaunt your massive MOD e-cigarette on a plane. You don’t want to scare granny; and anyway, the metal or visible e-juice won’t get through security. 

2- Stay Educated and share the knowledge

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- Business or First Class Preferences?
There was a time, not long ago that if you were seated in business or first class, particularly on a long flight, your chances were a better at obtaining permission to use your e-cigarette, but it’s getting more difficult. I’ve only been successful if there were one or two others in the first class cabin.

If You Like Extreme Risk, There Are Other Ways to Vape on a Plane

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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. Hold the vapor for 8-10 seconds before exhaling. (This will lessen the amount of vapor exhaled). 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. Most smoke detectors are not yet Optical Based, (meaning they are extremely sensitive to water vapor smoke). I have recently learned of an incident where the alarm did go off on Emirates Airlines. I suspect the user was vaping a very impressive vaporizer that produced massive clouds. I do not recommend it. Neither would I blow the vapor into the detector.

What’s That Smell?

 

E-cigarette vapor does disappear within seconds, but with the excellent new e-juices on the market, eliquid aromas are getting much more noticeable. Even if the smoke alarm doesn’t go off, the flight attendant will not be impressed by the lovely waft of chocolate when you leave the restroom. 

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 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 and that may alarm passengers and flight attendants are too busy serving pretzels to distinguish between ecig vapor and an electrical fire. 

The Future of Airline Policy and Vaping

Awareness of the true nature of the product and its benefits, including the benign impact on the environment is the only way this policy will change to favor vapers.  

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.

Until then, vaping on planes comes with the risk of being turned over to authorities when you land.

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

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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.

She is the editor for Cloud NineSavvy ExaminerBest E-Cigarette Guide and ECigarette News . A talented artist, Hillary also creates uber cool ecig t-shirts for Vaper Design Studio.

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  1. Adrian Salaices

    I have successfully used my E-Cig on American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
    In those two occasions I stealth vaped Meaning “I inhaled and kept the vape in my lungs for about 8 – 10 secs” this revealed no visible vapor.
    I was in fact caught 1 time near the bathroom with the e-cig in my mouth and the flight attendant issued a stern warning.
    but when I said “You will not see vapor or odor come out of my mouth” she smiled.
    I also mentioned that until the FAA issues a LEGAL warning and I see it in writing I will not comply .. that got her a bit upset but I said it in a very political manner and said that I would put it away if she produced written rules.
    She obviously did not and I kept stealth vaping Inconspicuously the rest of the flight.

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    This has been proven to be very useful to those that are trying to
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  3. Hillary

    Hi Vaporer,

    Thanks for the good advice! Question..was there are previous comment by “Polak” on air pressure issues?

  4. vaporer

    Polak is right.

    Problem: The pressure difference pushes your liquid out.

    Explanation: If you didn’t listen in physics at school, let me explain this. Pressure has no effect on liquids, they are incompressible. Forever, gas, such as air, changes volume depending on the pressure. If you image your eCig tank as having liquids at the bottom, air at the top and the hole towards the coil at the bottom, you can easily understand that when the pressure lowers (outside the eCig), the air wants more space (in the tank) and will pressure the liquids towards the “exit”, thus resulting in a leak. This will only happen during the climbing phase of the flight. During the descend, air will be push in the tank.

    Solutions:

    1) Have no air at all in the tank. Depending on how your eCig is built is can be difficult to achieve. But if you think you can do it, it will work.

    2) Empty your eCig before climb. That’s the safest solution. Once you’ve reached the cruising altitude your can fill your tank.

    Tips: always carry some tissues with you, just in case 😉

  5. Robert Cooper

    Delta attempted to have me arrested for smoking an eRoll vape in the lav. On 3/11/15, on a flight from Atlanta to San Francisco I went to the lav to take a few hits off of my eRoll vape. After ONE puff it activated the smoke alarm. The flight attendant knocked and asked if I was smoking, to which I said no. I returned to my seat and after some time the flight attendant came by and said that smoking in the lav was a serious Federal crime. My wife said “it was a vape.” “It doesn’t matter,” said the flight attendant. Later she handed me a message from the captain that said that the San Francisco police would be meeting me upon arrival. I had two stressful, panicked hours to prepare for my fate, during which time I texted my corporate attorney and two friends via wi-fi in order to prepare myself and my inevitable incarceration. After landing an announcement was made for all passengers to remain seated, except for myself and my wife who were instructed to depart whilst the police were visibly present at the front of the plane. Six police officers escorted us to a vacant area at the gate to discuss the matter with us. They then informed me that it was not per se illegal, but rather just a Delta rule violation, so they let me go. A red-jacketed Delta agent then told me that they would allow me to fly the return leg of my trip as long as I agreed not to vape again. Yesterday, 3/16/15, after returning from my trip I filed a Delta complaint online, followed by an email complaint to the Delta CEO. The email has been responded to by his executive assistant, but she has indicated that they need some time to investigate the matter. It would be nice if Delta would warn its customers that if they vape then they will do everything they can to ruin their life.

  6. Sophia

    And in addition to my previous post, to all of you who say you have “lung issues” and vapor irritates it … It’s all in your head. Do you even realize how much crap is in the air that you breathe even without tobacco cigarettes or vapor cigarettes? Fumes from cars, trains, buses, trucks, factories. Come on now. People need to get over it. Either that or just stay locked in your house all day. Ha

  7. Sophia

    I recently traveled to Florida on Spirit Airlinea. The flight attendant saw me get up to go to the bathroom and I had my vapor pen in my hand. She looked at me and told me to put it away. I hadn’t even smoked it (I was smoking in the bathroom haha). So I hid it in my sweatshirt and went to the bathroom. Thankfully the smoke alarm doesn’t go off! But I just think its weird that people get so freaked out at electronic cigarettes. I get that it has the potential to be annoying, but so is someone coughing without covering their mouth or a screaming two year old.

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  9. www.rebelmouse.com

    I am not sure where you aree getting your info, but great topic.

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  10. Hillary

    Thanks polak! Good advice regarding filling up prior to take off.

    I am surprised the alarm didn’t go off in the lavatory. The sensors can detect a vapor if it’s a lot. I know this because I attended a vaping convention and there was soooo much vapor in the air the fire alarms went off. Everyone had to stop vaping for 45 minutes so they could do a reset and make note to ignore the vapor in future.

  11. polak

    Vaped in the lavatory on LOT polish airlines and hungarian WizzAir without any issues.
    Even blow the vapor straight on to detector to check.No problems at all.make sure you don’t fill your e cigarette with liquid before flight due to cabin pressure when take off and landing causing leak.refill it when you 20 min after take off.Can’t wait for my next flight.Regards

  12. Hillary

    Close, but not either of them :)

  13. Ashley

    Victoria Beckham or Kristen Stewart but too close to Victoria Beckham

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