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United Airlines Airbus A321neo Flights Interrupted Over ‘No Smoking’ Sign

by Staff


  • United Airlines’ entire Airbus A321neo fleet is reportedly grounded due to non-compliance with US regulations on the ‘no smoking’ sign.
  • The airline is requesting an exemption from the current regulations, arguing that illuminated signs act as a deterrent and have no adverse effect on safety.
  • Travelers have experienced flight disruptions as alternative aircraft are being used while United Airlines addresses the issue with the Department of Transport.

Travel chaos may start to set in across the United States, with unconfirmed reports stating that the entirety of United Airlines Airbus A321neo fleet is grounded due to it not meeting US regulations regarding its ‘no smoking’ sign.

In a letter from the Star Alliance carrier to the United States Department of Transport, US code 14 CFR § 121.317(a) requests the airline to ‘allow United to operate aircraft worldwide without flight crew ability to turn “No Smoking” signs on and off.’ However, the current regulation is set that crew can operate these.

Photo: Lukas Souza | Simple Flying

Are you smoking onboard?

While smoking onboard has been prohibited for years, aircraft today are still fitted with nonsmoking signs and an ashtray in some lavatories in case someone lights up. In this case, United Airlines is pushing for the DOT to excuse them from current regulations, alongside what they already have with the remaining of their fleet, which, through a risk assessment with the carrier, showed that it had no adverse effect on the airline’s safety reliability.

With the signs continuously illuminated, this acts as a deterrent for all onboard that this is a nonsmoking environment that all must adhere to.

Travelers across the US see the A321 being swapped out for alternative aircraft while the carrier gets to the bottom of the issue with the DOT, as the airline prefers to leave the signs illuminated. Many took to X to quiz the airline on what was happening, including one passenger about to board in Phoenix before their flight was abruptly grounded.

United Airlines Airbus A321neo taking off.

Photo: Robin Guess | Shutterstock


On This Day In 1990 Smoking Was Banned On US Domestic Flights Of Less Than 6 Hours

Smoking is no longer allowed on passenger planes.

February 25th

Later this month, the US will celebrate its 34th year of a federal law banning smoking on all United States domestic flights shorter than six hours. The ban affected around 16,000 domestic flights, leaving just 28 flights where it would be permitted to light up. When the smoking ban became law, it was seen as a critical step in helping to improve public health by limiting people’s exposure to secondhand smoke. Before the smoking ban, airlines used to offer smoking and non-smoking seats on planes, yet keeping smokers away from nonsmokers had no effect as everyone breathed the same smoke-filled air.

United Airlines new Airbus A321neo

Photo: Lukas Souza | Simple Flying

The ability to lighten up in Europe ended in 1997 after the European Union banned smoking on all member states’ flights. In other nations, restrictions were only implemented much later, with China not banning smoking on planes until 2017.

  • N14106 United Airlines (Her Art Here-California Livery) Boeing 757-224 (1)

    United Airlines

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Guam International Airport, Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Scott Kirby

    United States

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