Cigarette ashtray and vintage whiskey

Why Do Airplanes Still Have Ashtrays?

Boarding an airplane today is different from boarding one 40 or 50 years ago with the many new technologies. Yes, you now have access to the world with Wi-Fi. Some flights have seemingly endless choices for movies and TV shows right at your seat. But have you ever stopped to wonder about the ashtrays that are still on airplanes?

They seem to be hanging around like a family heirloom that everyone says you must keep. Keep on reading to learn more about airplanes and their ashtrays.

Smoking or Non-Smoking?

Believe it or not, smoking was an acceptable habit on planes. In 1971, United Airlines was one of the first companies to create a non-smoking section, starting a journey that would eventually end altogether. 

By the late 1980s, U.S. airlines had started phasing smoking out, and all domestic flights under six hours had banned smoking by 1990. Fast-forward to 2000, and smoking was no longer on flights across the globe.

Cigarette ashtray and vintage whiskey

Why Did They Ban Smoking on Airplanes

The U.S. government banned smoking on airplanes due to the extreme risks it posed to the safety of passengers and crew. This goes back many years, but a well-known case was in 1973 when a smoking-related incident resulted in the death of 123 passengers on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. 

Passengers smoking in such a confined environment can put everyone else in danger, so many airlines took action and made sure that smoking was no longer an option.

This was an obvious choice for safety reasons. Smoking increases the chances of emergency scenarios occurring in the cabin, which one can easily avoid by banning smoking altogether.

You definitely shouldn’t bring cigarettes on an airplane, but Should You Take a Newborn on a Plane? Find out!

Why Do Airplanes Still Have Them?

Despite smoking being no longer allowed in airplanes over the years, you may have noticed ashtrays are still present in airplanes. This old-fashioned idea is still alive due to safety reasons and regulations advocated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), not due to a fear of letting go of heirlooms and traditions.

Ashtrays placed in bathrooms are mandatory minimum equipment and a fire hazard preventive measure. This way, smoking materials can be extinguished properly and not left lying around for an unknown period, possibly leading to an avoidable disaster should it be lit inadvertently or purposefully by other travelers breaking the rules. 

Cigarette on airplane

What Happens If You Smoke on a Plane?

It’s hard to believe, but some people still attempt to smoke on airplanes despite the laws governing aircraft safety. What happens, then? Depending on the airline and the situation, consequences can vary. The flight attendant will usually inform them to put their cigarette out. If they’re lucky, nothing else happens. 

In more serious cases, though, an offender may be asked to leave the plane and fined up to a few thousand dollars or even arrested. That depends on the disruption caused.

Airlines have rules you must follow while thousands of feet up in the air, and one of them is not smoking. If you choose to break this law, there are consequences, the very least of them being a fine.

Can Pilots Smoke on Planes?

When the smoking ban on airplanes began in 2000, pilots were still allowed to smoke in the cabin. However, because smoke can infiltrate the cabin and smoking in the cockpit can still result in smoke-related incidents, in 2017, U.S.-based airlines banned smoking for commercial pilots. The same holds true for most major airlines across the world.

As for a private jet or a private airline company, the story is a bit different. It is up to each private company or each private pilot to determine if smoking is allowed in the cabin or the cockpit.

When booking a private flight, many companies will even ask you if you want to smoke while on the flight. So, if you’re a smoker and can afford it, you might want to consider hiring your own private jet.

Man smoking on an airplane

Is Vaping Allowed? 

Vaping replaced all the rage of what smoking once was. However, just like smoking on commercial flights, you can’t vape. In fact, vaping is treated just like smoking when on a commercial flight. 

It’s illegal for passengers and pilots. If airline personnel catches you, they could administer a fine, ban you from future flights, or arrest you. So, like smoking, save the vaping for after the flight.

Learn the Rules Before Boarding Your Flight

It’s important to remember that just because there are ashtrays on airplanes doesn’t mean you should use them. Airline regulations prohibit smoking and vaping, and any attempts to do so can result in severe legal consequences. The presence of ashtrays is for safety only. It’s not an invitation to light up. 

When flying, make sure to abide by all the rules, especially regarding smoking to ensure a safe and enjoyable flight for everyone.

Have you noticed ashtrays on a flight before?

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