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Lighters and Matches Added to No-Fly List

February 18, 2005

Lighters and Matches Added to No-Fly List
February 18, 2005 – Under a new U.S. security policy, airline passengers will no longer be allowed to bring lighters or matches on planes. The policy is expected to go into effect within two months.

According to USA Today, the ban will require federal screeners to confiscate lighters and matches from passengers trying to take them through security and could force airports to halt smoking in restaurants and lounges located beyond checkpoints.

"We may be forced to do that," said Ian Redhead of the Airports Council International, an association that represents airport owners and operators around the world. "The only way somebody will be able to smoke is if you install lighters that can’t be removed from the area."

The ban stems from concern that a terrorist could light explosives on an airplane, as "shoe bomber" Richard Reid attempted on a trans-Atlantic jetliner in late 2001. If Reid had used a lighter instead of matches, "he’d have blown up the airplane," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

Dorgan said lighters and matches are real threats to aircraft, noting that the FBI has warned that terrorists want to use dolls stuffed with incendiary devices as a possible bomb on a plane.

The restriction will end a pre-9/11 policy that allowed air travelers to bring two lighters and four books of safety matches on an airplane. The existing policy also allows those items to be sold beyond security checkpoints. Federal Aviation Administration has long banned flammables from airplane cargo holds.

Travelers caught going through security checkpoints with lighters or matches in their pockets or carry-on bags will have the items taken away, TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield says. But he acknowledges possible difficulty detecting plastic lighters and matches in X-ray machines and metal-detectors: "You can see some lighters in an X-ray. Matches are problematic."

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