New Rule Bans E-Cigarettes From Checked Baggage

After more than 26 incidents in six years in which e-cigarettes have caused fires or explosions on planes, a new federal rule is set to go into effect banning the devices from being left in checked baggage. 

The Department of Transportation announced Monday that it had issued an interim final rule prohibiting passengers and crew members from carrying any battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices (e-cigarettes, vaporizers, e-cigars, etc.) in checked baggage.

The rule, which is set to go into effect in the next two weeks, also prohibits passengers and crew members from charging the devices or their batteries on aircraft.

“We know from recent incidents that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous. Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent safety measure.”

Passengers who own e-cigarettes can still bring them aboard aircraft in their carry-on bags, but, like traditional cigarettes, they can’t be used during flights.

According to the DOT, the 26 incidents recorded since 2009, often included devices that had been accidentally left on or that suffered a battery short-circuit.

One such case occurred in January at the Los Angeles International Airport. The Associated Press reports a checked bag that arrived late and missed its connecting flight caught fire in the luggage area due to an overheated e-cigarette packed inside.

The rule comes about 10 months after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a Safety Alert for Operators recommending that air carriers require their passengers to carry e-cigarettes and related devices exclusively in the cabin of the aircraft.

[via The Associated Press]