Lighters are now banned on U.S. commercial flights, but not matches.
The Senators who proposed the bill point to Richard Reid, who unsuccessfully tried to light explosives on an airplane with matches. They were worried that a lighter might have worked.
That, of course, is silly. The reason Reid failed is because he tried to light the explosives in his seat, so he could watch the faces of those around him. If he’d gone into the lavatory and lit them in private, he would have been successful.
Hence, the ban is silly.
But there’s a serious problem here. Airport security screeners are much better at detecting explosives when the detonation mechanism is attached. Explosives without any detonation mechanism — like Richard Reid’s — are much harder to detect. As are explosives carried by one person and a detonation device carried by another. I’ve heard that this was the technique the Chechnyan women used to blow up a Russian airplane.