E-cigarettes are allowed on airplanes, but they should not be placed in checked luggage. That's the new recommendation from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Last week, the FAA put out a warning to air carriers saying that e-cigarettes placed in checked luggage are a big fire risk. The concern, the agency said, is that e-cigarettes have overheated or caught fire when the heating element was accidentally activated.
E-cigarettes mainly use lithium cells to heat liquid nicotine into a vapor, and the FAA advisory is the latest to point out the dangers of such battery-powered devices.
The FAA pointed to two recent incidents. In August at Boston's Logan Airport an e-cigarette contained in a passenger’s checked bag in the cargo hold of a passenger aircraft caused a fire that forced an evacuation of the aircraft. Earlier this month in Los Angeles, a checked bag that had missed its flight was found to be on fire in a baggage area. Emergency responders attributed the fire to an overheated e-cigarette inside the bag.
The danger from e-cigarettes may increase when users modify them or substitute after-market components, such as batteries and heating elements, the FAA said in a press release
"These incidents and several others occurring outside of air transportation have shown that e-cigarettes can overheat and cause fires when the heating element is accidentally activated or left on" the FAA said in its advisory.
It continued saying it highly recommended that airlines require their passengers to carry e-cigarettes and related devices exclusively in the cabin of the aircraft.
The rational behind allowing them in carry-on luggage is that if a fire were to break out in the passenger cabin, it would be spotted and extinguished faster than if it were in the cargo hold.