Electronic cigarettes appear to pose a fire hazard when placed in checked luggage on planes, according to a new warning the Federal Aviation Administration has issued to commercial airlines.
The FAA warning, which suggests airlines require passengers to put e-cigarettes only in carry-on bags, cites two fire incidents at major U.S. airports that have been blamed by e-cigarettes.
In August, an e-cigarette in luggage in a plane’s cargo hold caused a fire at Boston’s Logan Airport, which prompted an airplane evacuation on the tarmac. Earlier this month, an e-cigarette in a checked bag that missed its flight started a fire in the Los Angeles International Airport baggage area, according to the Los Angeles Times.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Federal Aviation Administration”]
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.
E-cigarettes use a battery-powered cartridge to produce nicotine-laced vapor. Fires can spread when the lithium ion batteries ignite.
The FAA recommends airlines begin requiring e-cigarettes be carried in the aircraft cabin in carry-on bags rather than checked baggage that is stored in the cargo hold, where they can potentially cause a fire mid-flight, according to Reuters.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, issued a similar recommendation last month.
More than 2.5 million Americans use e-cigarettes, and the market continues growing. Fires are rare, with just 25 incidents reported from 2009 to August 2014. Nine people were injured in the incidents, which typically happen while the electronic cigarettes are charging. The shape and construction of the devices can turn them into “flaming rockets” when the battery fails, according to USA Today.