It’s holiday season! We’re a couple of days post-Solstice, and the temperature is ramping up. Schools are out and thoughts are turning to where to spend a couple or more weeks of vacation time in or outside of China. For a lot of people, that means taking a flight either within China or somewhere further afield. As vapers, we keep our e-cigarettes with us pretty much at all times and so one of the most common questions is whether we can fly with them or not.
This is our guide about flying with your vape from or to Chinese airports, and while we’ve tried the best to be as accurate as we can the rules can change from time to time and also further restrictions may be applied at the discretion of security, customs and other officials, and also police officers. We have used the most recent legislation we can find and combined it with the real-world experience of our team and our customers. Most of our experience is with Shanghai’s Hongqiao and Pudong airports. We are not lawyers or Civil Aviation Authority experts and so take our comments below as our experience and not fact but we believe by following the guidelines below, you should be fine to travel with your vape, e-liquid and accessories and end up at your destination vaping happy!
Can I vape on the plane?
No. Lol. Even if you’re flying the plane (well, since January 2019 anyway - a quick search of "Air China" and "e-cigarette" will let you know why).
Can I vape at the airport?
Since China’s implementation of the national smoke free policy, smoking is banned in all indoor spaces including airports. However many airports will have designated smoking spaces where you can vape. Normally at arrivals and departures outside the airport these will be clearly marked, and it’s possible that some airports will have air side smoking areas which are outdoors.
Shanghai’s two airports have designated air side outdoor smoking areas.
Terminal 1 of PVG has two outdoor smoking areas; entrances are in the No.200-203 long haul terminal of the Domestic Departure Hall and in No.213-216 long haul terminal of the International Departure Hall;
Terminal 2 of PVG has three outdoor smoking areas; entrances are in No.219-221 and No.222-224 long haul terminal of the Domestic Departure Hall, and in the connective corridor terrace of the International Departure Hall.
Terminal 1 of SHA has two outdoor smoking areas; entrances are in the long haul terminal B1 of the Domestic Departure Hall and B17 of the International Departure Hall.
Terminal 2 of SHA has two outdoor smoking areas; entrances are in the No.41 and No.54 long haul terminal of the Domestic Departure Hall.
How do I fly with my vape?
It’s useful to discern here between the various parts of your vape. Your vape is made up of the tank (the bit that you put your juice into and stick your mouth hole around), and the mod (the thing you hold with your hands and that in turn holds the batteries that power your tank).
When passing through security control, almost all of the officials can recognise an e-cigarette. If for any reason they don’t understand the English for “electronic cigarette” you can tell them it is a 电子烟 (diànzǐyan).
Travelling with your tank:
Your tank contains juice, which is a liquid and which therefore falls under the liquid regulations. In theory, this means your tank should be empty and although in reality security officials are unlikely to ask you to empty your tank it has been known to happen, especially at Hongqiao airport.
If you do end up flying with a full tank, the air pressure difference is very likely to make your tank leak. For pod devices, this has been known to damage the device and for larger tanks could mean leakage of 4ml or more from the airflow holes, leaking onto whatever is next to it.
If your tank is in checked/hold luggage then wrap it in a sealed plastic bag (separate from your mod) to prevent any leakage onto surrounding objects. Even better, empty the tank before you fly and fill it back up on arrival.
If you’ve brought your tank into the cabin as carry-on and it’s full, take advantage of the free waterproof sick bag they give you and firstly place it in there so that if any leakage does occur, at least it is only on the inside of the sick bag. When placing it into the sick bag, place it upside down so that gravity is on your side – the airflow is on the bottom of your tank and so if the air in your tank is not trapped by a layer of juice and trying to force it’s way out it shouldn’t be able to leak.
Finally, when you reach your destination, the cabin doors have opened and the outside air pressure has equalised unscrew your tank to make sure the tank’s air pressure is also equalised, screw it back up and you should be ready to vape. Keep it in the sick bag while you disembark just in case and when you’re sure it’s not going to leak (and you’re in an approved area to use your vape) you can start vaping again!
Travelling with your mod:
The most important thing to remember about travelling with your mod is that it contains batteries. Travelling with batteries globally is extremely regulated, and for good reason. All batteries and devices containing batteries must be taken with you as carry-on/cabin luggage. They contain materials that can cause fires if misuse or an accident occurs, and e-cigarettes have been linked to many of these incidents.
During the fl