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Zippo Cargo Cases

Michael Moretti
Posted: October 24, 2005
Fueled Zippo lighters can be stowed in checked baggage aboard U.S. domestic flights thanks to boxes designed specifically for that purpose. The Zippo Cargo Case by OtterBox is the result of Zippo Manufacturing Co.'s pursuit of a compromise to provisions in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act implemented on April 14, which banned lighters anywhere on airplanes. The 70-year-old lighter company, based in Pennsylvania, accomplished the task by teaming up with Otter Products, a Colorado company that makes rugged plastic cases. The partnership produced a vapor-tight, "crushproof" and "waterproof" bespoke case for the iconic Zippo shape that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) deemed safe for air travel.

This regulation, passed by the DOT on June 23, pertains only to Zippo lighters and to domestic U.S. flights. While other types of lighters can fit into the boxes, only Zippo brand lighters can be legally transported inside of them.

There are limits to what you can store in the cargo hold. Two fueled Zippo lighters are permitted in your luggage, with one lighter per case. You can carry other lighters thanks to a May addendum to the Intelligence Reform Act, so long as the lighters are packed in checked baggage and are completely empty of fuel. (There is no need for a protective case.) If an agent discovers a lighter in checked baggage not in compliance with these rules, he will confiscate and subsequently destroy it -- a good thing to keep in mind if you're toting along a high-end piece.

With these regulations, officials are essentially saying that if you can manage, leave the lighter at home. You can still carry up to four books of common safety matches in your carry-on bags. The rules are designed to prevent air piracy or the use of a plane as a weapon, although some feel it is over the top to prohibit lighters in checked baggage. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said that the substances contained in lighters and strike-anywhere matches are considered to be hazardous materials and have always been banned in checked luggage. These materials can ignite due to the changes in pressure that occur in a pressurized compartment -- such as the luggage bay in the belly of a passenger airplane -- during a flight. Even empty lighters, according to the FAA, have fumes that can be dangerous.

The rules on cutters remain the same. Cigar scissors (so long as they don't have pointed tips), guillotine cutters and bullet cutters are permitted in carry-on baggage or in checked baggage. Signs listing the prohibitions are posted by the Transportation Security Administration at airport security checkpoints.

The Zippo Cargo Cases have a suggested retail of $12.95. Call Otter Products at 1-888-695-8820 for details.

Photo by Mary Galligan

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