I have a rechargeable USB electric 'arc' lighter. It a similar model to the one shown here (sorry for the ebay link, best I can find and I can't find a picture of it working). When activated it creates an electrical arc between two points -- it's not like the 'element' electrical lighters where a heating element gets hot (i.e. the old car lighters).

Does anyone know if this is likely to get confiscated by airport security? I know some lighters are supposed to be allowed but I've often had seen them confiscated anyway (particularly in China). But they were all gas/lighter fluid based lighters so this is different. Although it does seem to come close to being a 'torch' lighter which is explicitly banned (and from the outside it does resemble a torch type lighter).

I suspect that security will probably confiscate it anyway, if they're confiscating lighters. And I know it's not a good idea to argue. But perhaps someone has traveled with one of these before or can find some official documentation that I cannot.

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The TSA mentions that lighters without fuel can be checked in, but cannot be carried on the airplane in the hand-carry luggage. Common lighters are listed with an exception:

Common Lighters - Lighters without fuel are permitted in checked baggage. Lighters with fuel are prohibited in checked baggage, unless they adhere to the Department of Transportation (DOT) exemption, which allows up to two fueled lighters if properly enclosed in a DOT approved case. If you are uncertain as to whether your lighter is prohibited, please leave it at home.

However, this concerns "common lighters", which I would say yours isn't. In general, this item would rather resemble the category "cattle prods" since it creates an electric arc which are also allowed in checked-in luggage.

In my experience, if there is any doubt, the likelihood is that they go on the safe side and ask you to check it in at least.

  • Yeah, I figure they'll err on the side of caution. Problem is, because it has a battery in it -- and I've no idea what type, it might not be suitable for checked-in baggage either. Mind you, so must cattle prods ... – SpaceDog Nov 10 '14 at 8:47
  • Note that TSA regulations only apply to the USA and the question makes no mention of travel to or from the USA. (On the other hand, the regulations are quite similar across different countries, so TSA regs are still useful advice. And the last sentence, "If you are uncertain as to whether your lighter is prohibited, please leave it at home" is excellent advice in this case.) – David Richerby Nov 10 '14 at 11:27
  • Is the battery removable? If not, how can you guarantee that it won't be triggered in your checked bag and set the whole plane alight? – David Richerby Nov 10 '14 at 11:28
  • @DavidRicherby The battery is not removable. I wouldn't be comfortable putting it in checked baggage because I've really no idea how it works or what the battery is and I can see very bad things happening if it did somehow set itself off. So, yeah, seems like leaving it at home is the best idea, it's no big deal, was just curious really. – SpaceDog Nov 11 '14 at 1:31
  • They use a lithium ion battery, same as laptops and cell phones. The lids almost always have a safety cutout, so they need to be open in order to establish the arc. If the lighter were taped closed, I'd imagine the risk of fire would be quite small, as even if the arc did fire, it'd be contained within the lid, and the arc only lasts a few minutes on a charge. – Arran Cudbard-Bell Jul 27 '16 at 2:13

I had a Tesla Coil Lighter confiscated after much examination and conferring by a slew of TSA Officers. They finally concluded that it could be used as a weapon (i.e. personal stun gun?) and POOF! it was gone....

Side note - it went thru another airport with no issues.

  • +1, love the personal experience, can you add about when and where these events happened? – Gayot Fow Mar 19 '17 at 13:52

Just saw this post from 2014. As an FYI. In 2017 and if flying international from Ontario Canada. They are not allowed as carry-on. Pack it. Don't be a dummy like me.

Literally just had my plasmatic lighter confiscated. I’ve been flying with it for close to a year. I left LAX 4 days ago and they said nothing, but coming back they took it out and said I couldn’t have it. I explained that it claimed to be flight safe and there was no fuel but they didn’t care. 60 bucks down the drain. I’d pack it for sure. Out of the near 20 flights I’ve taken this year it’s mostly been okay but it only takes once. Don’t risk it

  • 1
    Your lighter sounds nice. It will make a nice gift for one of the relatives of the TSA agent who confiscated it. – Stephan Branczyk Feb 11 at 13:25

According to this TSA advisory, Arc Lighters, Plasma Lighters, Electronic Lighters, E-Lighters are not allowed in either checked or carry-on baggage.

  • To anyone wondering why lighters are being disallowed, it's a combination of two factors: 1. Carry-on Bag: Banned as it is a potential weapon/can start a fire 2. Checked-in Baggage: No products with Li-ion batteries are allowed in checked-in baggage as of the last couple years since some are known to explode under temperature and pressure changes. Hence, travelling with an arc-lighter ends up becoming a no-no – Abraham Philip Jun 18 at 15:37

Just had an electronic lighter confiscated by security at Prague Airport, even though it had gone through Gatwick Security without a problem on the way out. I can't find a definitive answer about this 'new' type of lighter, so I have come to the conclusion that it's down to the opinion of the officer who happens to do the search. I know that we all want to be kept safe on planes, but some of these guys seem to be a bit over-zealous, especially as

  1. You can carry a lighter that makes a flame
  2. The airlines sell alcoholic drinks on board (which regularly leads to problems).

Anyway, best to leave lighters at home if they are worth anything.

protected by JonathanReez Jun 17 at 4:46

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