In 2017 it beggars belief that anyone was ever allowed to smoke in the close confines of an aircraft cabin.
Smoking on planes was legal until 1988, from which point it was phased out, resulting in a worldwide ban.
Yet when you make a trip to the on board bathroom, you’ll still find an ashtray inside.
So why is it that 29 years on, the need for an ashtray still exists?
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it is still a legal requirement for planes to have an ashtray installed inside the lavatory.
It is considered part of the “minimum equipment” that must be on a flight.
The reason for this is a complete lack of trust in passengers abiding by the rules.
If anyone did decide to illegally have a cigarette, they would still need somewhere to stub it out.
So the FAA insists the ashtrays remain in place, as they would decrease the likelihood of a fire breaking out on board.
If the cigarette is disposed of in the ashtray, it won’t create any further smoke, which can have disastrous consequences due to the air pressure in the cabin.
This was demonstrated in 1973, when a fire broke out on Varig Flight 820 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris after a cigarette was thrown in the toilet’s rubbish bin.
The tragic incident claimed the lives of 123 passengers, after the cabin filled with smoke and the pilot was forced to make a crash landing.
The ashtray rule is so stringently enforced that at least 50 per cent of the compartments must be operational on any one aircraft flying at a time.
If one breaks, it must be fixed or replaced within 10 days.
But the FAA’s British counterpart, The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), makes no mention of compulsory ashtrays.
Another perplexing feature in plane cabins is the existence of no smoking signs so long after the ban was introduced.
Experts say it’s because aircraft have a very long lifespan, and the signs are simply still there from when they were required back in the 1980s.