Can sparklers be shipped on a plane?

NOTICE: This post is for information only. Wedding Sparklers USA© does not recommend flying with or placing sparklers in luggage on planes within, departing from or destined to the USA without authorization.

TL:DR Call your airline before purchasing sparklers from us for your destination wedding, that way the airline can confirm safe passage and give you instructions, Wedding Sparklers USA can ship them to your destination inside the USA and Mexico. Please read our FAQ for details. Contact us for info or place an order online. We ship FAST!

Update: We are now shipping to Hawaii, Alaska and Mexico. Contact us to place an order.

One of our most frequently asked questions goes something like this: “Can you ship sparklers to Australia / UK / Saudi Arabia <insert any place outside the continental United States>”. Another question we frequently receive is “can you rush delivery or next day deliver sparklers” outside of our normal ground shipping delivery arrival estimates. Because next day or air deliveries end up on a plane we cannot and will not ever use next day or air delivery. These issues have become so frequent that we’ve had to block the ability for payment transactions that originate from outside the lower 48. So, what’s up with that, sparklers don’t spontaneously combust right? We’re going to take the time to explain in detail the U.S. policies that regulate sparklers on planes and why we recommend against trying to fly with them whether in carry on or within checked or cargo baggage and at the end how you might be able to get them on-board and fly legally without confiscation.

USA Federal Regulations and Policies

There are various policies and regulations regarding the transportation of sparklers. Here is a list of them and how they pertain to flying with sparklers.

APA 87-1: All of the sparklers we sell online are classified as “novelty fireworks”  by the American Pyrotechnic Association in a document called APA STANDARD 87-1* last updated in 2003. This document is used by the Department of Transportation PHMSA division specifically regarding the transportation of fireworks within the USA. It explicitly states that novelty fireworks are to be transported by the following terms:

3.2 Novelties The following devices do not require approval from DOT and are not regulated as explosives under the provisions of  this Standard, provided that they are manufactured and packaged as described below… Novelties must be packaged in strong outer packagings that are sealed to prevent leakage of the contents. Each package, and overpack if used, offered for surface transportation must be plainly marked NOVELTIES, NOT REGULATED, EXCEPT WHEN TRANSPORTED BY AIR, IN CONFORMANCE WITH APA STANDARD 87-1. If novelties are transported by aircraft, they must be classed, labeled, and described as Flammable Solid, Inorganic, n.o.s (Novelties), UN3178 (emphasis added for clarity).

 Let’s ignore that last sentence for now and address it later. Here’s why:

FAA. PHMSA is not the only government institution involved with the regulation of what can and cannot fly. Let’s see what the FAA has to say about flying with sparklers in their document entitled Is It Safe: What to Pack and What to Leave Back*.

You must declare your hazardous materials to the airline, air package carrier, or U.S. Postal Service. Violators of Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR parts 171-180) may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $30,000 for each violation and, in appropriate cases, a criminal penalty of up to $500,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 5 years.

Yikes! Furthermore they specifically state :

“Do not pack in luggage or carry on board sparklers”. (The text is formatted in the document that makes it difficult to copy / paste)

So there you have it, APA 87-1 doesn’t specifically say that you cannot fly with sparklers and neither does the FAA document. What they do say is that they must be labeled, not be carried on board or packaged in luggage and confirmed with your airline.

I want to take sparklers to my destination wedding, so what do I do?

I want to start off by saying that we’ve had feedback from customers on both sides of this; either they get confiscated at the airport or they don’t. In the first situation the bride packages the sparklers in her luggage, which is obviously against the above regulations and they get removed from the luggage. Not a situation anyone wants to take part in. In the second situation a recent customer called the airline and they allowed it as long as the package was marked according to what the airline stated and not placed within luggage. We are not aware of the specifics of that conversation and we cannot contact airlines on your behalf. Will all airlines allow sparklers to go in a plane if I meet the above rules? We have no idea what specific airlines policies are, have been in the past and what they may be in the future.  So call your airline first before purchasing sparklers. This post is as far as we can go to help. This post is not to be taken as advice, legal or otherwise.

So why can’t you next day air them, again?

We just don’t. It’s a giant hassle and very expensive. UPS policy has changed recently and we may in the future ship via Air but as of right now it is not something we are interested in doing. Also, the cost is extremely high. For instance a case of 36 Inch Sparklers would cost over $200 to ship (plus the cost of the sparklers) from us to Miami over night. If you must have sparklers immediately, contact us so we can get you in touch with someone that’s nearby within our network.

Updated: Fedex will also not ship sparklers by air at risk of closure of account. Updated again.

Fedex basically has the same rules as UPS, it’s possible but very expensive. We do not utilize Fedex services.

*References:

APA 87-1, dated 2003: downloaded from Michigan.gov May 2014

FAA Circular Is It Safe: What to Pack and What to Leave Back (no date provided): downloaded from faa.gov May 2014

If these downloads break we can provide PDFs as of May 2014.

Photo by Texas.713 CC 2012

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