The Reason Why The Bathrooms In Modern Airplane Still Have Ashtrays

It has been close to three decades since onboard smoking has been banned.

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Once upon a time people were allowed to smoke on planes

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However, since the early '90s, onboard smoking has been banned

The Federal Aviation Administration banned smoking on US domestic flights some 28 years ago. Following which, most international airplanes followed suit and by the end of the 90s, all airplanes were made smoke-free.

So why do the bathrooms in modern airplane still have ashtrays?

And oddly enough, the ashtrays are usually right next to signs reminding you that lighting up is strictly prohibited on the plane. As if giving a mixed message!

To some, it may even seem like a strange relic of the past being kept alive for nostalgia's sake or a sign of just how lazy the aircraft manufacturers must have been to not have them replaced. In both cases, though, it would be a wrong assumption.

In fact, it's mandatory for airplanes to have the ashtrays in lavatories

Image via Fuzzy Gerdes

There have been instances when a plane's bathroom wasn't fitted with an ashtray, it was NOT ALLOWED to take off!

In 2011, a Jazz flight from Fredericton, Canada to Toronto was prevented from taking off because its ashtray was missing. The airplane was then made to fly without passengers to Halifax to have a new ashtray fitted.

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Here's why:

An ashtray in the plane toilet is a legal requirement under the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) list of "minimum equipment" for an airplane.

"Regardless of whether smoking is allowed in any other part of the airplane, lavatories must have self-contained, removable ashtrays located conspicuously on or near the entry side of each lavatory door, except that one ashtray may serve more than one lavatory door if the ashtray can be seen readily from the cabin side of each lavatory served."

The reason for this is that any possible disposal of illicitly consumed smoking materials in the toilet's waste bin may pose a fire risk. The danger from accidental fires in the toilet is considered to be higher than in other parts of the aircraft cabin.

In short, ashtrays make your flights safer!

Speaking of which, just a month back, on 13 June, a man was caught smoking in the toilet of a flight from Tenerife, the largest of Spain's Canary Islands, to Manchester Airport in England

"After being spoken to about his behaviour, he was given a verbal warning," the spokesman said. "It is now up to Ryanair whether they want to ban him from travelling with them in the future."

The five-hour flight arrived at the airport just before midnight, but passengers were not allowed to disembark until the incident had been resolved around 12.30am.

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