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Everything You Need to Know About Flying with Your Cigars in 2024

airplane flying

Are you a hardcore cigar enthusiast?  Is it difficult at times to part with your premium cigars when you head out on a trip by air?  Well, you’re not alone.  Still, if you’re not careful, flying with your prized stogies can come with pitfalls and traps.  Either you damage your fine cigars during traveling or violate some rules pressed by the airline, the government, or both.

Speaking of the latter, when flying with cigars, it's important for travelers to be aware of the regulations regarding the transport of tobacco products, both in terms of airline policies and international customs laws.

So, we are going to be discussing how to fly with your stogies, both from a carrying and storage perspective, and from a legal perspective.

Why Do People Fly with Their Cigars?

People choose to fly with their cigars for a variety of reasons, much like they would with other personal items or luxury goods.  Below are some possible reasons:

  1. Personal Enjoyment: Cigars are often associated with relaxation and leisure. Travelers might bring cigars with them to enjoy during their trip, similar to bringing a favorite book or a set of golf clubs.
  2. Quality Preservation: Cigar aficionados might prefer to carry their cigars with them to ensure they are maintained in optimal condition. Factors like humidity and temperature can affect a cigar's quality, and travelers might not trust these to be regulated properly if the cigars are transported in checked baggage or shipped.
  3. Gifting or Sharing: Cigars can be an appreciated gift or a means of social bonding. Travelers might bring cigars to share with friends, family, or business associates at their destination.
  4. Availability and Selection: The availability and selection of cigars can vary greatly by location. Travelers might bring their own supply if they are concerned about the availability of their preferred type at their destination, or if they are traveling to a place with limited options.
  5. Cost Considerations: In some cases, cigars can be significantly more expensive or subject to higher taxes at the destination. Bringing cigars from home can be a cost-saving measure.
  6. Regulations and Authenticity: Especially when traveling to or from regions famous for their cigars (like Cuba), travelers might prefer to bring their own to ensure they are getting an authentic product and not a counterfeit, or to ensure they are complying with import/export regulations related to tobacco products.

Why Do You Need to Protect Your Cigars When Flying?

Protecting your cigars when flying is important primarily due to changes in environmental conditions that can occur during the flight.  To be a bit more specific:

  • Humidity and Temperature Changes: Airplanes have controlled environments, but the humidity and temperature inside the cabin can still fluctuate and are often lower than the ideal conditions for storing cigars. This can lead to your cigars drying out, affecting their flavor and burning properties.
  • Pressure Changes: The pressure changes during a flight can also impact cigars. Though modern aircraft are well-pressurized, slight variations can still occur, potentially affecting the structural integrity of the cigars.
  • Physical Damage: Traveling can be rough on luggage, with bags being tossed around during handling. Cigars are delicate and can easily be damaged if not properly protected.
  • Regulations on Tobacco Products: Different countries and states have varying regulations regarding the transportation of tobacco products. It's important to ensure your cigars are stored and declared in accordance with these laws to avoid fines or confiscation.

Protecting Your Cigars the Right Way

To protect your cigars while flying, it's recommended to use a hard-shell, airtight travel humidor.  These humidors are specifically designed to control humidity and temperature, ensuring that the cigars remain in good condition throughout the journey.  So, the humidor needs to have outstanding humidity control, due to the dryness of the pressurized air potentially impacting that stogie’s freshness.  Plus, it’s wise to keep your travel humidor in your carry-on luggage to avoid the rougher handling that checked bags can experience and to maintain a more consistent environment.

What Cigar-Related Items Can You Bring on an Airplane?

Again, when bringing cigar-related items on an airplane, the regulations primarily depend on the aviation authorities of the country you're flying from or to, and the individual airline's policies.  However, some general guidelines by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States are:

  • Cigars: Cigars are typically allowed in both carry-on and checked bags without any quantity restrictions. However, it's always a good idea to check customs regulations if you're traveling internationally, as there may be restrictions or duties imposed when entering certain countries.  Specifically, there might be customs restrictions based on the country you are entering, especially regarding the quantity and origin of the cigars (like Cuban cigars in certain countries).
  • Lighters: You can bring a disposable lighter or a Zippo-type lighter in your carry-on bag. However, torch lighters (often used to light cigars) are prohibited in both carry-on and checked bags due to their intense flame.  If you bring a lighter in your carry-on, it must be kept on your person or in a DOT-approved case.  Containers with butane or other flammable liquids are generally not permitted in either checked or carry-on luggage.
  • Matches: One book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches are allowed in your carry-on. Strike-anywhere matches are forbidden in both carry-on and checked bags.
  • Cigar Cutters: Most cigar cutters are typically allowed in carry-on bags. However, any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.
  • Humidors: Portable humidors can be packed in carry-on or checked luggage. It's crucial, however, to ensure that any liquids (like propylene glycol used in humidifiers) adhere to the TSA's liquids rule if they are in your carry-on (generally, this means the liquid must be in a container of 3.4 ounces or less, and all containers must fit in a single 1-quart-sized, clear, zip-top bag).

Final Cigar Traveling Thoughts

Whether your placing those cigars in carry-on or checked luggage, ensuring that they arrive in good shape when arriving at your destination is crucial.  While you can better shield your stogies by keeping them in your carry-on luggage, you might come across some issues with airport security.  For that reason, some people find it safest to keep their cigars in their checked baggage.

Remember, these are general guidelines based on TSA rules.  As we cannot stress this enough, it is always a good idea to check the regulations of the specific airline you're flying with and the customs regulations of your destination country, especially for international travel.  Additionally, security officers have the final say, and they can refuse any item if they deem it a security threat.

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