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Can You Take Vapes in Checked Luggage? TSA Rules & Expert Tips

Ethan Parker

Written by: Ethan Parker

Updated on March 11, 2024

Can You Take Vapes in Checked Luggage TSA Rules & Expert Tips

As a vaping enthusiast, the thought of being without your trusty vape device while traveling can give you the heebie-jeebies. Those cravings for a hit or puff know no boundaries. But navigating airport security and airline regulations with your vaping equipment is a whole other story. Can you just toss your vape pen into your checked luggage? Or is there a risk of it getting confiscated, damaged or worse?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the dos and don’ts of flying with vape cartridges, batteries, and e-liquids. From TSA rules to expert packing tips, we’ve got you covered so you can vape on no matter where your travels take you.

Where to Pack Your Vape Device: In Your Carry-On Bags but Not Checked Luggage

Why exactly don’t airlines allow you to pack vape devices in your checked luggage? The concerns come down to two major factors. That’s lithium batteries and potential electronic cigarette liquid leaks.

All vaping devices, from basic e-cig pens to advanced mods, contain lithium-ion batteries. These types of batteries pose a fire risk if they get damaged, overheat, or short circuit. It’s even worse if they are activated accidentally during handling and transport.

Since checked bags get jostled around considerably more than carry-ons, there’s an increased chance of vape batteries becoming a safety hazard. If your vape tank, battery case or spare e-liquid bottles leak inside checked luggage, it could easily damage other belongings or even the plane’s cargo hold systems. Not an ideal situation!

The good news? You can absolutely bring vaping devices and e-juices in your carry-on luggage, provided you follow all TSA regulations which we’ll cover in-depth shortly. According to the TSA website, the final word rests with their officers at the airport.

Flying with Vaping Devices and Batteries

Per TSA rules, you are permitted to pack vape mods, pens and e-cig devices containing lithium-ion batteries in your carry-on bag. However, there are specific requirements for the batteries themselves:

  • Lithium-ion batteries must be installed in the vape device itself. You cannot put loose lithium batteries in carry-on or checked bags under any circumstances.
  • Each vaping device is limited to a maximum of two lithium-ion spare batteries. These must be individually protected from short-circuiting by keeping them in a battery case or wrapping terminal ends with insulating tape.
  • The watt-hours rating for lithium batteries cannot exceed 100 watt-hours per battery. Most vape batteries are well under this limit.

So that checked luggage option is out. But what about packing vape juice and other vaping accessories? Let’s explore the TSA liquid and accessory rules.

Traveling with Vape Juice: Important Tips

Without vape juice or e-liquid, your portable vaping devices basically become expensive paperweights. Here’s what you need to know about getting your vape juice through airport security and comply with most airlines:

  • E-liquids must be stored in containers of 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less to comply with the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule for carry-ons.
  • All e-juice bottles should be placed in a single, clear quart-sized baggie for screening.
  • While not required, it’s wise to pack e-liquids in leak-proof bottles and secure them tightly. Many vape shops sell special spill-proof travel bottles.
  • Unlike liquid medicine, there are no special rules allowing larger quantities of vape juice specifically. Don’t try to plead your case with the TSA on this one.
  • Other accessories like replacement coils, O-rings, tools and chargers for your vape pens can be packed freely in your carry-on luggage.

There’s only one exception. Refillable tank-style vape devices raise some additional security considerations.

Disassemble Your Tank Before Flying

Agents may require you to separate and disassemble any refillable tank systems before passing through the security checkpoint. This allows for proper inspection to ensure there are no banned substances or unidentified liquids present.

Having your tank already disassembled and empty in hand luggage can streamline this process. Store the tank glass, center airflow piece and mouthpiece in your carry-on separately from the battery section.

TSA staff will instruct you on how to gate-check any larger vape mods or disassembled batteries that won’t fit in the bins. Don’t try to take apart any electronics until asked.

Now let’s talk about the types of substances allowed in those tank systems consuming nicotineand e-liquids. E-cigarettes can take vape juice or e-liquids. These nicotine-based formulations that can be enriched with flavors and other additives.

What About CBD Oil and THC Vapes?

TSA’s official regulations state that FDA-approved hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis can be brought on flights. That’s thanks to the Farm Bill, which was signed into law by former President Donald Trump.

However, marijuana and cannabis-infused products, including some CBD oils, live resin, or rosin remain illegal under federal law. For this reason, it’s safest not to travel with any vape juices containing THC or derived from marijuana.

Even in legal states, such as Colorado, Oregon, and Illinois these products could raise issues going through airport security or risk confiscation upon arrival in a destination where cannabis remains strictly prohibited.

TSA agents are primarily focused on security threats over product legality. But they do work closely with local laws and may refer any suspected cannabis cases to local law enforcement.

Your best bet is to leave the THC cartridges at home and stick to nicotine-based e-liquids for air travel. Or look into purchasing federally legal CBD products, ideally with third-party lab reports, at your destination if needed.

Unless you happen to be flying with a medical marijuana prescription and documentation. In these limited cases, TSA allows you to travel with FDA-approved CBD oil and products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis.

But again, be sure to check your arrival city and state laws due to the legal complexities around CBD and marijuana. Erring on the conservative side is often wise when flying to avoid potential issues.

Leave Complex Devices At Home

While flying with basic vape pens and mods is generally allowed, you may run into additional screening hassles with advanced devices like temperature control boxes, rebuildable atomizers or mechanical mods without regulatory chips. Essentially, anything too complex or unfamiliar to TSA staff runs a higher risk of raising red flags.

If possible, leave the high-end hobbyist vape gear at home and opt for basic setups to breeze through security checkpoints without issue. The last thing you want is dealing with having a prized vape confiscated because it looked suspicious to the TSA.

TSA agents are directed to not allow any electronic vapor devices through the screening checkpoint until they can be resolved and determined not to be a threat. So the rule of thumb is to keep it simple and recognizable as a basic vape.

Check Airport and Airline Policies

The TSA establishes security screening protocols for all U.S. airports, but many airlines have extra policies that you need to be aware of when flying with vaping devices.They don’t want anything that could jeopardize safety, especially if there’s an emergency landing.

Some carriers have an outright ban on using or charging e-cigarettes and vape pens during the flight, even if the TSA allows them through security checkpoints. Others strictly prohibit e-cigarette use in the cabin, lavatories and other sections of the aircraft due to air quality and smoke alarm concerns.

Before packing up your vape for a trip, always check advisories on the airline’s website about their specific rules regarding:

  • Use of vapes or e-cigs during the flight
  • Allowances for charging device batteries in-flight
  • Restrictions on types or quantities of devices that can be brought on the plane

More importantly, regulations can vary across countries and even airports. For instance, some international airports prohibit vaping devices altogether, won’t allow e-liquid over certain nicotine strengths, or restrict sizes of vape tanks/clearomizers.

Laws and airport policies frequently change, so ensure you’ve got the latest scoop on traveling with vaporizer products to your specific destination. When in doubt, reach out to the airline or airport authority to clarify their current rules well before your trip.

Consider Alternative Nicotine Products for Traveling

While vaping gives you that added hand-to-mouth sensation and ability to customize nicotine levels, it’s not always feasible for certain travel situations. Consider packing some alternate nicotine sources like:

These tend to be easier to travel with and provide discreet nicotine intake when you can’t vape on a plane. Disposable vapes and e-cigs are a compact vape option too. Just be sure to pack enough to get through potential delays.

What Happens If You Put a Vape in Checked Luggage?

Now to address the main question: what exactly happens if you pack your vaping equipment in checked luggage against TSA and airline rules?

In most cases, checked bags get thoroughly screened and any vape devices detected are inspected, documented and potentially confiscated. Transportation Security Administration can also use a drug sniffing dog to fish out suspicious items

That being said, the extent of consequences can depend on a few factors:

Discovery of Vape at Check-In

If you accidentally leave a vaping device in your checked luggage at check-in, there’s a high probability it will be caught during security screening. At this point, you will likely have the option to remove it from your bag before the checked luggage is loaded.

Some airports may confiscate the item right away as a policy violation. Others may have you go through additional screening and testing to ensure it doesn’t contain explosives or ban substances.

Either way, you can probably expect delays and hassles getting through the check-in process before boarding the flight, even if you’re ultimately allowed to hang onto your vape.

Discovery During TSA Baggage Screening

If your vape pen or e cigarette device makes it into the TSA’s checked baggage and luggage screening process undeclared, prepare for the worst outcome – confiscation. You won’t have the chance to remove or claim any prohibited items once they hit the security conveyor.

Per TSA policies, any undeclared prohibited items like electronic vape products must be disposed of properly due to security risks. Your checked bag will be thoroughly searched and the items removed.

But simply losing your gear isn’t the potential worst issue…there could be additional fines or penalties depending on what exactly is found and if it’s considered a violation of federal laws.

Undeclared THC Vape Cartridges

As mentioned, TSA agents often work closely with local laws on prohibited substances. So if they find undeclared THC vape cartridges in your checked luggage, even in legal marijuana states, you could potentially face fines or even criminal charges upon arrival.

Why take that risk? Save yourself the headaches and don’t try sneaking any cannabis-derived vaping products in your checked bags. Even dry herb vape is not worth the legal hassles, even if you nicotine cravings or an urge for a puff.

Vape Devices With Residue

Even if your vape pens, vape kit, and cartridges appear to be free of any suspect liquids or materials, the TSA could potentially still flag the items as illegal drugs for residue testing. Cannabis users should tread carefully because those trace cannabis residue on a cartridge could read as a controlled substance.

Give your vape device a thorough cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and ensure any tanks or cartridges are fully emptied before packing them up. While the TSA’s stance is not to criminalize inadvertent possession of trace amounts of marijuana, you don’t want to give them any reason to dig deeper. After all, cannabis is still not federally legal.

For all these reasons, it’s highly recommended to follow guidelines and keep any vape gear and e-liquids in your carry-on baggage where you can easily access, declare them if needed and prove they are free of banned substances.

Vape Leaks

Beyond potential confiscation and legal troubles, there’s an even worse fate that could befall your beloved vape if checked, and damage!

Remember how we mentioned leaks are a concern for e-liquids in the cargo hold? Well, that liquid could potentially spill from your electronic device, too, especially when rapidly changing air pressures and temperatures during flights.

Now picture your vape juice leaking, spreading through all your clothes and belongings, or onto other luggage. At best, it creates a smelly mess. At worst, it damages sensitive electronics or other valuable items.

Catastrophic Failures

Lithium-ion batteries inside vape mods can potentially swell, rupture, short circuit and ignite under certain temperature and pressure conditions. So there’s a very real risk of your vape device going thermonuclear on your whole suitcase during loading or mid-flight.

Not exactly the carry-on surprise you want to deal with after a long trip! Play it safe, follow regulations and keep all vaping gear and loose batteries in your carry-on to avoid explosive results.

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Ethan Parker
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