It used to be one of those mysteries of life. How old is this plane I’m travelling in? Smoking on planes was banned in 1988 so why does the loo of the plane I’m in feature an ashtray?
The answer is pretty simple, although somewhat bizarre.
By law, aircraft loos (or ‘bathrooms as Americans prefer to call them despite the fact that they are sans bath) are obliged by law to have an ashtray, even today. This is in case a smoker decides to go against the rules of abso-bloody-lutely-no-smoking-at-all and light up in the loo.
Evidently, the ashtray is there – despite the fact that we’re not allowed to smoke anyway – just in case someone does and if so, they need somewhere to put it out.
Strange logic but apparently this is a fire prevention move. I’m not sure what the dangers would be if a lit cigarette was thrown into the toilet, which is something that smokers tend to do on land, should they find a smoke-friendy-facility. Would something blow up? Is that it? Who knows.
There’s a lovely snippet of information on Wikipedia:
In 2011, a Jazz flight from Fredericton, Canada to Toronto was prevented from taking off because an ashtray was missing – the aircraft instead flew to Halifax without passengers to have a new ashtray fitted.
So despite airlines being so incredibly budget-conscious, a plane flew with no passengers, i.e. making no money, because it had no ashtray, despite the fact that smoking is banned on aircraft.
I’m a former smoker but I still think the video below is funny. Much easier to wear a nicotine patch!