Airline Toilet Door
Airline Toilet Door Ashtray

Do you know that there has been ‘no smoking’ policy on airlines since the mid 1990s*? How can you possibly not know that? Then, the question I have is: why do airline companies — and their suppliers Boeing and Airbus, in particular — continue to produce doors for the toilets with embedded ashtrays? Having taken to the airs first, no smoking is now terrestrial in many places in most developed countries. Mindsets are changing. Habits are evolving (if not decreasing unfortunately, in the case of smoking). Airplane constructions have changed in many ways — with so many companies ardently looking at ways to reduce weight and costs. How is it, then, they still waste resources and money on these archaic ashtrays which now become the favoured repository for used chewing gum and other bits and pieces? Even the flight attendants on a recent Virgin Atlantic flight were hard pressed to come up with a sensible answer (**see below for someone else’s more elaborate response). Having checked on my three latest flights (two Boeing 747 and one Airbus 777) and seen this extraneous appendage 3/3 times, I will now need to cross-check with some brand spanking new planes to see if the folly persists. Anyone seen anything different? On your next flight, check it out and report back please!

As usual, I found that somebody else was on the case ahead of me. No harm!

Surely, no smoking means no ashtrays needed, don’t you agree?

*The first ban in the US on flights 2 hours or less was April 1998; that was a year after Canada I might add. Coverage of the first US ban can be found here on the NY Times. It seems that, as of 2003 per A.S.H., meanwhile, only 91% of all flights to/from the US have a smoking ban. Does that include non commercial flights and freight? In any event, I personally have not been on a flight that allows smoking for over a decade.

**You can also find a good meme here on And I have copy/pasted a comment that I thought was quite fun by hungupanddrive:

“What’s broken is the attendant’s response. The reasons that ashtrays still exist on planes are:

  1. Cheaper to install, then re-tool the assembly line
  2. Not all planes are manufactured for the airlines. There is such a thing as a privately or corporate owned airbus A321
  3. Smoking is not banned everywhere in the world, but planes are sold everywhere.

What I find broken on planes is the razor blade disposal in the lav. When is the last time anyone used a safety razor for shaving? And, if they did, what are the odds they would be doing it in a moving airplane?”

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