For Immediate Release

Release No. AWP-5 05-00
December 18, 2000
Contact: Jerry Snyder
Phone: (310) 725-3580

As the holiday season approaches, FAA warns that fireworks are strictly regulated when shipped by air.

Federal rules forbid transporting fireworks in passenger carry-on or checked baggage. But there are other ways that fireworks get on planes.

Many airlines have special rules for fireworks as cargo that may be more restrictive than federal guidelines and some airlines may ban them outright. Undeclared fireworks shipped or carried on an aircraft, or sent through the mail, present a very real danger to the crew and passengers. The potential for spontaneous ignition, combined with improper packing and resulting fire in an aircraft's inaccessible cargo hold, are well known.

Mislabeling fireworks as clothes, tools, machinery, cookies or some other common article is extremely dangerous and illegal. Airline employees will not have the necessary information to properly handle and store the fireworks and serious injury or loss of life may occur.

Any person carrying fireworks onto an aircraft or attempting to ship them illegally faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine. If you want to ship fireworks, or take them with you, first coordinate with your air carrier or the Post Office to ensure they are safely and properly packed, labeled and declared.

There have been several fireworks incidents, which have raised concern:

  • In two separate incidents, individuals attempted to ship undeclared 70-pound and 21-pound boxes of fireworks on inter-island passenger aircraft
  • An individual attempted to ship fireworks wrapped in aluminum foil from Molokai to California. They were so deteriorated that clouds of powder escaped from the wrappings when they were opened.
  • A 35-pound box of fireworks was discovered enroute from Kauai to California and the same responsible party was discovered trying to go through the Honolulu security checkpoint with 500 firecrackers taped to the inside of his leg.
  • While waiting for a flight to be pushed back at the inter-island terminal in Honolulu, a flight attendant discovered a young passenger with eight packages of fireworks in her carry-on bag.

There was a fireworks incident at San Diego International Airport, Lindbergh Field, in February 1998. During the loading of a passenger aircraft, handlers noticed one piece of checked baggage smoking. Further investigation revealed the checked baggage contained 86 fireworks. The bag was separated from the rest of checked baggage and cargo.