Smoking in a public place was banned decades and decades ago, and since it is a plane we are talking about where even mobile phones aren’t allowed to be on, they would surely be “NO SMOKING” areas as a whole. But when we visit the onboard lavatory, why are ashtrays present in the congested place with a cigarette icon present outside? My first reaction was that some old planes could have it since smoking on planes was officially banned in the States back in 1990, even though airlines had implemented the ban before.
But, even then it was just a wild guess because it is highly unlikely that the washroom hadn’t been renovated in the past 25 years. Also, there are several NO SMOKING signs present around the ashtray, so it doesn’t make any sense at all. When an airline was approached regarding the mystery, they explained that there used to be a single compartment for trash in the lavatory, and since toilet papers are used, the garbage mostly consisted of discarded toilet paper. Now people don’t follow rules and chain smokers are known to use the lavatories for smoking, and they used to dump the burning cigarette butts in the trash cabinet that is full of inflammable toilet paper.
In 1973, Varig Flight 820’s passenger cabin was engulfed in smoke after a fire was started in the lavatory due to blazing toilet paper while it was travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. 123 people died in the tragic incident and ever since, Federal Aviation Authority has made it compulsory for all onboard lavatories to have a separate compartment for disposing cigarette butts. The FAA knows that both workers and passengers will violate the ban from time to time, and a separate ashtray will ensure that a disaster like this will never happen. Smart, practical thinking I must say!
[Via Business Insider]