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Despite the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaporizers, neither can be used on a plane. Recent regulations passed by the federal government went into effect this year officially prohibiting e-cigarette use or vaping. Additionally, because of the risk of fire posed by e-cigarette batteries, they are not allowed to be charged on planes.
Prior to the regulations, each individual airline had an independent policy prohibiting it, which was backed by a federal regulation allowing airlines to enact their own policies that don't conflict with the law. The penalties for violating federal aviation regulations can be extraordinarily severe.
Simply using an e-cigarette or other vaporizer (or regular cigarette) can end up getting a person arrested and fined tens of thousands of dollars. If a flight is diverted and forced to make a landing because of your actions, which could happen if clouds of apple-pie scented vapor start billowing out of the bathroom, you could be facing serious legal consequences, including imprisonment. It's yet to be seen what will happen to this man, whose e-cig exploded while he was vaping in-flight.
The fine for smoking or vaping on a flight can range from $2 to $4,000, and by itself is not a jailable offense. However, it can quickly escalate if a person is found to have tampered with a smoke detector, or failed to comply with a crew member's instruction, such as to stop smoking. Generally, while a person may be arrested and removed from a flight for smoking, or vaping, unless there was more to the incident, there will only be a fine imposed. However, be warned that on some international flights, depending on the destination country, a person could be arrested upon arrival and put in jail.
Frequently, the rules of the friendly skies are not that strictly enforced, meaning that passengers that engage in non-dangerous, prohibited conduct are warned to stop what they are doing by flight crew. However, when a person refuses to comply with a crew member instruction, that is when matters can quickly escalate and a person could be facing much more serious consequences. Many times, a single, small incident (like lighting up or vaping in the bathroom) may be enough to cause a plane to be diverted.
Of all the fines issued by the FAA, only approximately 10% are due to in-flight smoking violations. Additionally, it is worth noting that many fines for smoking end up being as small as $50.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.