17 Million Views in 24 Hours: Delta Passenger Ejected for Brazenly Vaping on Board

A Delta Air Lines passenger was kicked off a flight prior to departure for vaping. She was doing it right out in the open, in full view of passengers and crew. And from her interactions when confronted, she doesn’t sound sober either. Video of the incident was viewed over 17 million times in the first day that it was posted online.


How to get booted off a plane

♬ original sound – TipsyTalk

@tipsytalk Replying to @jpg mafia ♬ original sound – TipsyTalk

In the U.S., vaping inflight is banned because the FAA considers the statutory prohibition on smoking on scheduled passenger flights to apply to e-cigarettes. They simply treat e-cigarettes as cigarette smoking. According to the rulemaking,

The NPRM stated our position that the reasons supporting the statutory and regulatory ban on smoking also apply to a ban on e-cigarettes

And by the way the FAA rule explicitly allows a passenger to emit vapor if it is from a “medically beneficial substance.” So it’s not about banning vapor. The regulation simply extends the ban on cigarettes to include e-cigarettes, which weren’t contemplated when the law against on board smoking was passed.

The concern isn’t batteries, as some people mistakenly believe. Laptops, cell phones, tablets, and noise cancelling headphones are permitted. And airlines have procedures – and burn bags – for dealing with outlier issues inflight. Instead the decision largely came about because

  1. there’s a stigma against it because it’s ‘like’ cigarette smoking and
  2. other passengers might think vapers are smoking a cigarette even though they aren’t.

Over the summer a United Airlines passenger was caught on video surreptitiously vaping during a flight, and then exhaling water vapor. A first class passenger on my flight from London to Abu Dhabi in the fall did this, too, but I didn’t pull out my phone.

The first airline to create a nonsmoking section was United back in 1971. No U.S. airline fully banned smoking worldwide until Delta in 1994. U.S. airlines were still allowed to offer on board smoking up until 2000.

Yet planes still have ashtrays! You’ll usually find them in or near the lavatory, because customers may smoke even though it’s illegal to do so – and they need a place to put out their cigarettes. Without ashtrays they’d be most likely to put out their cigarettes in the lavatory trash.. and light the paper tossed away inside on fire.

One passenger who lit her cigarette inflight says police beat her after flight attendants spiked her drink. And in 2020 a passenger lit up a cigarette after refusing to wear a mask on board.

Before the pandemic another passenger downed 4 bottles of beer, vaped an e-cigarette, and punched a flight attendant all before his honeymoon. Another lit a cigarette, drank his own booze, and bit a flight attendant’s ear. While a man who burned himself with his own e-cigarette on board had the temerity to sue the airline.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “According to the American Lung Association, vaping can cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease. In 2018, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a report that reviewed over 800 studies and concluded that e-cigarettes contain and emit potentially toxic substances.”
    “Secondhand vape aerosol can contain harmful chemicals such as nicotine, ultrafine particles, diacetyl, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals. The American Cancer Society says that secondhand vape exposure may be harmful because people may breathe in these substances within the vapor. ”

    So, if you just have to stick something in your mouth on a plane, get a pacifier. Or drive.

  2. Witnessed this brazenness mid-flight on a JetBlue flight to SAN (a passenger in Row 1 no less) and the flight attendant smelled the vapor and saw the vape pen on the passenger’s folding tray, but diffused the situation quickly by just asking “you’re not thinking of using that, are you?”.

    I would have complained sooner but hesitated out of concern we might end up diverting and offloading the passenger.

    Passenger behavior on U.S. airlines is getting absurd. Had another recent situation (again on JetBlue) where a passenger in the Exit Row kept working on an unsecured laptop all the way through wheels down.

  3. Our society has got to quit tolerating this behavior. Don’t care what their problems are defiance on an aircraft is a whole ‘nother set of rules.

  4. If this was an Max aircraft and she was sitting in a window seat of an exit row I would give her a pass.

  5. yeah, exit row ! Why couldn’t that door plug just blow out “Ka-Pow!” and problem solved

  6. Who cares it’s vaping. And don’t give me the line about second hand vape fumes, I’m sure all the recycled beer farts methane emissions on a plane a re far worse than vaping for everyone’s precious lungs. What a nation of whimpy, whiney people America has become. Good luck fighting the Chinese or Russians.

  7. Good grief. I was on a flight in F from BOS-ATL a few weeks ago and someone was clearly vaping in the forward lavatory (it set off the smoke alarm) and the flight attendants pounded on the door and forced it open; the passenger was vaping while holding a toddler!

    Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

  8. @Bill Carlin… It’s not about the smoke man. It is about the fire risk. Vapes are made from the cheapest possible parts for max profit. And it’s unregulated. So to have a high energy lithium cell right next to a heating element that can get up to 380°F to 480°F (193°C to 249°C) with hardly and safety features, is a recipe for disaster. Go look at all the videos of vape pens exploding while being used. What do you think this lady would have done if that thing exploded? She would have instantly dropped it or thrown it way as a reflex onto the carpet, seat or another person. And a lithium battery fire on a plane is a bad situation to be in. Imagine she pulled that stunt in the air and something happened? That is why it is banned.

  9. @Zebraitis that’s irrelevant. Healthy or not, the activity is banned.

  10. It’s a myth that secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes are harmless. Many people think the secondhand vapor is just water like what you wrote, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The vapor emitted when someone exhales contains a variety of dangerous substances, which may include: Nicotine.

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