Are there any airlines that still allow smoking on board flights?

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We are fairly certain that nobody in today’s era who has taken a flight has missed out on the glaringly obvious signs all over the flight that strictly prohibit smoking. There are many reasons for the same and we will look into them in this post. 

However, it might be quite difficult for us to believe that it was not all that long ago that flights encouraged smoking, including cigars and cigarettes. 

This wasn’t an abolished practice even as late as 2014! So where does this leave us? The curiosity is real. Are there any flights that still allow smoking onboard? If you have googled this, you have come to the right place because I have researched for you. 

But before we get to that, let us take a look at what prompted flights to take a stand against smoking as such.

How did it start?

It was in the 80s that flights started stepping up for the first time and prohibited the act of smoking entirely. Even though most flights started taking action around this time, in 1969, for the first time, a consumer advocate by the name of Ralph Nader was among the first to raise an issue on this basis. Soon, other people and organizations caught up. 

The Association of Flight Attendants took a notable stand against this and started protesting the act. The very first airline to step up and take action was United Airlines and they did so by creating a non-smoking section in 1971. 

They were commended for the same but capitalism gripped other companies a bit longer before Aurigny Air Services stepped up and placed a blanket ban on smoking on its flights. This took place in 1977 and it became the first flight to do something like this.

This was not accepted well initially mainly because the tobacco industry placed a huge pressure on the airlines to allow smoking on-board. Most airlines were also in agreement with the tobacco companies on this front. In 1976, cigar and pipe smoking was banned but with little effect as they gave in to pressure and lifted the ban in just two years. 

After a lot of back-and-forths, it was in 1988 that the smoking ban came into effect in any capacity. After an appointment, it became impossible to argue with the negative effect that it had on the health of those co-passengers who did not wish to subject themselves to being trapped in a closed space with active smokers who lit up their pipes and cigars. 

The smoking ban occurred over 12 years at least, starting with the ban in just domestic flights lasting less than two hours until finally in 2000, all international and domestic flights in the USA banned smoking entirely.

Are there any airlines that still allow smoking on board flights?

The short answer, and what we want to hear as well, is No. None of the flights these days is okay with smoking and it is indeed a punishable offence. But it is interesting to note that a few international flights allowed smoking right up to 2014. 

The regulations have been brought in after careful consideration of peoples’ general welfare as it does not offer to render vulnerable populations, especially uncomfortable during their flight travel and provides a safe space for everyone on-board. 

It is the emphasis on safety and the rights and comfort of passengers and flight attendants that justify this rule. 

What happens if you are caught smoking on a plane?

A person who is caught smoking on the plane is not considered someone criminal but rather just a rule-breaker generally. Most of such offences are dealt with a fine of roughly $4000. The rates vary from one country to another. It takes a lot more than just smoking on board to get you arrested. 

Certain misdemeanours can lead to you getting arrested upon landing. If you are thinking about tampering with the smoke detector because you feel that it will let you get away with it, let me put it straight to you.

You will not get away with it and you are most likely to be arrested when you land because you have messed with important safety precautions in the flight. Also, if you try to actively resist an order to stop smoking, this can lead to you possibly getting arrested when you land. 

Why is smoking on-board banned in flights?

The main reason for this is that it causes severe discomfort among those passengers who choose not to smoke and wish to not be harmed by the harmful effects of passive smoking. The government realized that this is an actual threat to the health and public rights of non-smokers and imposed the ban despite initial protests and disagreements. 

Passive smoking is known to be just as harmful as active smoking and flights are extremely closed spaces with no ventilation of any kind. Smoking within flights also poses other threats to your co-passengers as they pose a fire hazard. 

This is not a very common occurrence but the fact that fire hazards are much more of a threat when the flight is on air cannot be ignored. There is absolutely no escape. 

Safety is an important added concern when you are miles in the sky and have no way of getting out. All in all, the ban on smoking in-flights has been reasoned out pretty well. 

The Ash Tray in Bathroom Conundrum 

You are not alone if you took a flight from London to Paris or on similar routes and were taken aback when you noticed an ashtray in the washroom. The non-smoking sign is clear and lit at all times and yet, not even bothering to hide is an ashtray in plain sight. 

It makes even less sense when you consider that you cannot even smoke e-cigarettes on the flight. I did some research into this abnormal phenomenon and soon realized that this is just another result of outdated government mandates that don’t make sense today. 

According to the federal government rules, having an ashtray is one of their minimum requirements for a flight.  It is not a very ridiculous rule when you think about it because the logic behind it is reasonable. They simply do not trust every single citizen not to break the law.

Even though there is an active threat of a huge fine and arrest upon landing for breaking this law, the government feels that this might not be incentive enough and some serial smokers might just do it anyway. 

Should the urge hit them and they choose to smoke, without the worry of consequences, having an ashtray around to stub the smoke out is still better than taking stupid actions that could set the entire aircraft on fire. 

Surviving a Long-Haul Flight as a Smoker

If you are someone who needs at least one pack a day to get through your day without any withdrawal symptoms, taking a long-haul flight can be quite a daunting experience. The experience that you have will be similar to that of someone going through active withdrawal except it will be like going cold turkey as well. 

Let us take you through some simple strategies that will let you cope till you can get your hands on smoke when you land. 

Distract yourself by keeping your hands busy. 

Bring along a video game or something that will keep your hands busy. Your fingers need to be constantly working on something so that you don’t start twitching or fidgeting which is an expected urge when you are away from your smoke. 

You must keep your hands busy and keep doing something that will engage your mind as well. Download a game that you can play in aeroplane mode and divert your mind entirely onto it. If you are travelling with someone, explain your situation to them and ask them to keep you engaged as well. Sometimes, it’s all about just willpower and focusing on something else entirely.

Sweets and Snacks

Get something sweet to munch on. Chips and toffees work just fine. keep munching on something that will give you the energy that you usually derive from getting a smoke. It does not have to be anything heavy. Just something to keep your mouth occupied and your hands as well.

Distract the urge to smoke by interacting with people around you. Look for people who might be open to conversation and try to engage them in small talk or otherwise. Take a walk around the plane.

Other than the fact that smoking on flights is illegal, it just creates a bad experience for every one of them. Have a safe flight and a great journey and catch up on your smoke break within just a few minutes of landing as there are smoking centres all around the airport. You can end your search for flights that allow smoking over here- there are none. 


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Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

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