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While in Singapore, I have purchased a (Singapore-themed) butane lighter as a gift for someone else. If I'd taken a moment to think about it, I wouldn't have bothered because of the uncertainty, but now that I have the lighter, I am wondering if I would be able to bring it back with me on my flight on Singapore Airlines, departing Changi Airport.

According to the Changi Airport web site:

Safety matches or lighters are permitted only when carried on the person. The lighter can contain only absorbed liquid or liquefied gas fuel. Refills are not permitted.

This tells me that at least as far as Changi Airport itself is concerned, they have no objection to me bringing the lighter back, as long as I carry it on my person.

The Singapore Airlines web site has only this to say:

Passengers are prohibited from carrying these items in either checked or hand baggage.

The list of prohibited items are as follows:

  • Lighters (butane, absorbed fuel, electric, battery-powered, novelty)

(Emphasis mine). This tells me that I cannot pack a lighter into either my checked or carry-on bag. But it is not explicit about a lighter carried on my person and there is no further mention about doing so.

I have already submitted a question to the Singapore Airlines web site, but that was several days ago and I have not heard anything back from them.

It would be useful to hear about any first-hand experience with departing Changi Airport on Singapore Airlines with a lighter. Alternatively, a link to one or more authoritative references that clearly states the status of a lighter carried on one's person on such flights would also be useful.

Additionally: the lighter has been emptied of its fuel. It is completely inert at the moment, and would remain so until my travel has been completed. If a lighter would not generally be permitted, checked or carried, does that change if it has no fuel in it?


In addition to the links quoted above, I have also seen Are cigarette lighters allowed in airports?, Air travel with lighters, and even the possibly-related Can I carry a chef's torch in hand luggage?. But unfortunately, while all leave open the possibility that the lighter would be permitted, none of these offer definitive information that would address my specific question.

Similarly, I found this TripAdvisor post, Is cigarette lighter allowed in flights from Changi Airport?, which has at least one reply suggesting that I would be fine carrying the empty lighter with me on my flight. But it is also not definitive.

  • Just a view. I regularly find lighters (cheap ones though) in the transparent box where the security deposits small prohibited items seized from passengers, in Changi airport. – Anish Sheela Dec 21 '19 at 14:07
  • Whether you can pass security will be up to the security people at the airport. Asking the airline is unlikely to generate a useful reply, as airport security services are operated by the government or independent contractors or the airport itself. – DavidSupportsMonica Dec 21 '19 at 16:05
  • @David: as noted in one of the links above, security hired by the airport has the policy that the lighter is permitted if carried on person. as noted in another link, at the airport in question, some security is handled at the gate, by the airline, not the airport staff. Knowing what their exact policy is, is the same as knowing whether they will or will not treat the lighter differently from airport staff. In any case, my hope in asking the question here is that that answer is actually documented somewhere. I appreciate that you don't know the answer, but hold out hope someone else does. – Peter Duniho Dec 21 '19 at 16:54
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Unfortunately this will depend on the airline and the mood of the officer on the given day.

In the last two months I have travelled from Singapore 4 times and 3 times they have taken my lighter and 1 time I was allowed to keep it.

All times I was having it in my pockets as I like to smoke cigars from time to time.

  • Thanks...while not definitive, your first-hand experience is useful. I am wondering, any of the times they took the lighter, did you share with the officer the documentation provided by the airport that states you should be allowed to carry the lighter on your person? – Peter Duniho Dec 22 '19 at 2:18
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    @PeterDuniho I never really argue with security staff as it rarely brings anything good, specially small things like this – Matt Douhan Dec 22 '19 at 4:01
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(Sorry, meant to follow up on this long ago)

I still would love to receive a definitive answer (and would accept such an answer), but I can at least corroborate the other answer's observation that lighters can be allowed.

That is, I did ultimately wind up traveling with three (emptied) lighters, carried by three different people — me, and two others who were traveling with me, each carrying one — and had no trouble at all. We just put the lighters in trays with our other "pocket stuff" (keys, phone, etc.), sent the trays through inspection, and nobody batted an eye.

I was prepared, in the event that the lighters were taken, to have a very polite conversation with security personnel, to at least ask about any apparent discrepancy between policy being applied at the gate and the policy outlined on the Changi Airport web site. I have no misconceptions that I'd be able to change the policy at the gate, but rather just to learn more about the difference. But since it never came up, I never had the opportunity for that.

I also never did receive any reply from my request to the airline itself. So I still have no official word from them.

All that said, I believe in the future I will forego purchasing novelty lighters as gifts for friends back home. :) There was a lot of emotional stress involved for items of such little value.

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    Thanks for returning to answer! For what it's worth, the security checks at Changi's airline gates are carried out by airport personnel enforcing airport policy, not Singapore Airlines. – lambshaanxy Jan 20 at 7:25
  • @lambshaanxy: "security checks at Changi's airline gates are carried out by airport personnel " -- ah...I wasn't sure about that. I thought maybe each airline at their gate might be responsible for security. Thanks for clearing that up. In that case, I guess the airport's policy on the web site should in fact be the official policy at the gate. – Peter Duniho Jan 20 at 17:09

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