Are there any laws prohibiting trading on airplanes?

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By Kristy Tolley

Trading on Airplanes

Trading on airplanes is a common practice among passengers who want to make a quick buck while traveling. From selling snacks and drinks to offering beauty services, some people have found ways to turn their flights into a business opportunity. However, the legality of in-flight trading is a topic of debate. While some people argue that it is harmless and should be allowed, others believe that it poses safety risks and should be prohibited.

The answer to this question is not straightforward. The legality of in-flight trading depends on several factors, including the type of product or service being sold and the airline’s policy. In general, airlines have the authority to regulate what happens on their planes, and they can set rules regarding in-flight trading. However, there are also federal laws and regulations that govern aviation safety and security, which may affect the legality of in-flight trading. Therefore, it is important to understand the different laws and regulations that apply to trading on airplanes.

FAA Regulations on In-Flight Trading

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the agency responsible for regulating aviation safety in the United States. The FAA has established regulations that apply to in-flight trading. For example, 14 CFR 121.580 prohibits passengers from interfering with the duties of the crew or obstructing the aisles or exits of the aircraft. This means that passengers cannot sell products or services that could interfere with the crew’s ability to perform their duties or block the exit pathways of the plane. Additionally, 14 CFR 125.328 prohibits the carriage of hazardous materials on aircraft. This means that passengers cannot sell or transport hazardous materials, such as explosives or flammable items, on airplanes.

Federal Laws on In-Flight Trading

Apart from FAA regulations, there are also federal laws that apply to in-flight trading. The Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended, gives the FAA broad authority to regulate aviation safety and security. The act requires airlines to comply with FAA regulations and to maintain safe and secure operations. Additionally, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, has the authority to regulate the security of air travel. The TSA has established regulations that prohibit passengers from carrying certain items, such as firearms, on airplanes. Therefore, passengers cannot sell or transport prohibited items on airplanes.

Prohibited Items on Airplanes

As mentioned earlier, there are certain items that passengers cannot carry or transport on airplanes. These items are considered hazardous or pose a security risk. Some examples of prohibited items include firearms, explosives, flammable liquids, and certain chemicals. Additionally, there are restrictions on the amount of liquids that passengers can carry on airplanes. The TSA has established guidelines for the types and amounts of liquids that are allowed in carry-on bags. Therefore, passengers cannot sell or transport prohibited items or liquids on airplanes.

Liability Issues for In-Flight Trading

In-flight trading can raise liability issues for both passengers and airlines. Passengers who sell products or services on airplanes may be held liable if their actions cause harm or injury to others. For example, if a passenger sells food that causes food poisoning to other passengers, they may be held liable for damages. Additionally, airlines may be held liable if they allow in-flight trading that violates FAA regulations or federal laws. Therefore, it is important for passengers and airlines to understand the risks and potential liability issues associated with in-flight trading.

Trading Restrictions on International Flights

In-flight trading on international flights may be subject to additional restrictions and regulations. Passengers traveling to different countries may be required to comply with customs and immigration laws, which may affect their ability to sell or transport certain items. Additionally, some countries may have specific rules regarding in-flight trading that passengers must follow. Therefore, it is important for passengers to research the laws and regulations of the countries they are traveling to and from.

Can Airlines Ban In-Flight Trading?

Airlines have the authority to ban in-flight trading if they believe it poses a safety or security risk. However, airlines may also allow in-flight trading if it is consistent with FAA regulations and federal laws. Additionally, airlines may set their own policies regarding in-flight trading. Passengers should check with the airline before engaging in any in-flight trading to ensure that they are complying with the airline’s policies.

Penalties for In-Flight Trading Violations

Passengers who violate FAA regulations or federal laws regarding in-flight trading may be subject to penalties and fines. The FAA can impose civil penalties of up to $25,000 per violation. Additionally, passengers who violate TSA regulations may be subject to criminal charges and fines. Airlines may also take disciplinary action against passengers who violate their policies regarding in-flight trading.

Reporting In-Flight Trading Violations

If passengers witness or suspect in-flight trading violations, they should report them to the airline or the appropriate authorities. The FAA and TSA have hotlines and online reporting systems where passengers can report safety and security violations. Additionally, passengers can report in-flight trading violations to the airline’s customer service department or the flight crew.

Conclusion: Trading on Airplanes

In summary, in-flight trading is a complex issue that involves multiple laws and regulations. While passengers may see it as a way to make extra money or pass the time, it can also pose safety and security risks. Therefore, it is important for passengers to understand the laws and regulations that apply to in-flight trading and to comply with them. Additionally, airlines should set clear policies regarding in-flight trading and enforce them to ensure the safety and security of all passengers.

References: In-Flight Trading Laws and Regulations

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). (n.d.). Title 14 – Aeronautics and Space. Retrieved from
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA). (n.d.). Prohibited Items. Retrieved from
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). (2021, March 22). Report an Aviation Safety Concern. Retrieved from
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA). (2021, January 14). Contacting TSA. Retrieved from
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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