Live and Let’s Fly writes about a flight attendant vaping in the galley, while admonishing passengers that they cannot vape on board. An Air New Zealand passenger reported,
I saw the flight attendant having a sneaky vape behind the curtain by the toilet. She inhaled on the vape three times.
I could even see the blue light, light up on the vape as she inhaled. She then took a mouthful of water which she swirled around in her mouth presumably to dissipate the smell.
The flight attendant’s vaping is an issue because it’s illegal and subject to fine, not because it’s inherently problematic the way smoking on board would be (exposing other passengers to the smoke).
The major reasons vaping isn’t permitted are (1) that there’s a stigma against it because it’s ‘like’ cigarette smoking; (2) bureaucratic inertia; and (3) other passengers might think vapers are smoking a cigarette even though they aren’t. It’s certainly not due to second hand smoke risk!
And it’s not the batteries, as some people mistakenly believe. Laptops, cell phones, tablets, and noise cancelling headphones are permitted. So are carry on bags with removable batteries, external battery chargers, and numerous other powered devices.
The flight attendant vaped on board making a calculation that they wouldn’t get caught or at least reported, and that probably works out for them quite often. Most of the time cabin crew are ‘unmonitored’ and while there are procedures, in practice there’s quite a wide latitude for deviation.
For instance, if you’re flying first class on American Airlines what percentage of the time do you receive a predeparture beverage?
- Sometimes they’re pressed for time when boarding late, but what percentage of the time do you receive one with an on-time boarding?
- It probably is not zero, and certainly is not 100% – because individual crewmembers vary in how they choose to perform their duties.
When the airline sends auditors on board, it’s only for safety items and not service.
One of the stranger variances I’ve had reported recently was a Tuesday evening flight to New Orleans where the flight attendant working first class asked everyone for their IDs prior to departure, “to expedite drink service.” They carded the whole cabin en masse, before anyone had asked for a cocktail. The youngest passenger up front was 44. Go figure.
When you’re flying the metal tube you’re on your own, and begin to think you make your own rules. Occasionally you get in trouble for that.