A short time ago I received this email question from a reader. I answered the question in my weekly column in the Winnipeg Free Press but after getting more comments on the subject from readers, I thought a wider circulation of the message might be in order.
Question: I have been travelling all over the world and it has never been a problem taking my trusty curling iron fuelled with butane. However, we are going to the states in April and a feel sudden nervousness about this. Americans are rather strange when it comes to “security” and have no compunctions about going through your luggage. Is butane allowed in this circumstance or not?
Answer: From what I have been able to find out, in theory at least, butane tanks are allowed by TSA. They are not specifically banned anywhere I’ve ever been able to find. But as I review the TSA website there seems to be so many contradictions that I feel there are absolutely no guaranteeing they will be let through.
In a response last year to a traveler inquiry, a TSA email stated, “Passengers may place the curling iron in carry-on or checked baggage. The safety cover must be in place over the heating element. You may not carry any extra butane cartridges in carry-on or checked baggage.”
The email encouraged the questioner to go to the TSA website saying, “The website has information about prohibited and permitted items, the screening process and procedures, and guidance for special considerations that may assist in preparing for air travel. You can find these tips and more under the Our Travelers heading on our website at www.tsa.gov.”
As I reviewed all the information I did not get a comfortable assurance on butane equipment specifically, and to the contrary there is a clear ‘no’ relating to Aerosols beyond personal care or toiletries. The same restriction is applied to any flammable liquid fuel.
In addition airlines have the right to impose additional restrictions they may deem necessary.
Even if the website suggests in some way it is allowed I think you take a risk, since I could not find absolute clarification. Some TSA agents may make their own decisions as they interpret restrictions.
While it appears you may be very well be allowed to take the appliance with you I would personally not be inclined to test the interpretation.
If you have travel questions or travel comments email me at askjourneys@ journeystravel.com
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