Vapes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive, toxic substance. Photo / Getty
By Charlotte Cook of RNZ
The number of vapes being confiscated from people’s checked luggage at New Zealand airports over the past year has quadrupled.
Almost 10,000 vapes had to be removed by Aviation Security in 2022 – up from just under 2000 the year before.
Vapes, e-cigarettes, power banks and Airpods must be put in carry-on bags and not checked into the baggage hold because of the type of battery they contain.
Aviation Security said some types of batteries were at risk of exploding, catching fire, leaking acid or caustic chemicals, and harming people and property – which was why they were removed.
Last year, 9839 vapes were taken from checked baggage, up from 1958 the year before.
In 2021, there were still some lingering pandemic restrictions and travel cautions limiting the number of people going through the airports, which could have affected the number of vapes confiscated.
More than half of those vapes or e-cigarettes were taken from bags at Auckland Airport, New Zealand’s busiest.
It is a big increase from 2021, when only 588 vapes were confiscated at that airport.
Wellington Airport was second on the list for most vapes confiscated, followed by Queenstown Airport.
Restricted items like vapes are only removed from bags that get checked into the hold – not the carry-on ones that go with you onto the plane.
Most of the restrictions are related to the batteries in the items.
Aviation Security said e-cigarettes, vaporisers and vapes were the cause of an increasing number of fires and injuries to people.
“Due to the risk posed by these items, the heating element or battery should be removed to prevent the vape or e-cigarette from accidentally turning on.”
This risk expands further than e-cigarettes, vaporisers and vapes – wireless Bluetooth headphones like Apple Airpods are also a controlled item.
Aviation Security said the charger case for Airpods and wireless earbuds was a form of power bank, which was among the restricted items.
This caused some shock for summer travellers who opened up their luggage at their destination to find they had been removed.
Aviation Security did not have specific numbers on the number of wireless earbuds that have been confiscated, because these fell into a wider category that also contained power banks and hearing aid chargers.
More than 18,070 items were confiscated from that category last year, a jump from 8763 in 2021.
Can you get them back?
If you are one of those people who has arrived at your destination to find your electronic gadgets missing, what can you do?
Aviation security said: “After removing the item the [Aviation Security] officer will place a notice in the bag, which advises the passenger to contact their airline if they want to try to get their item returned.”
There is no guarantee that those items will be able to be returned.