Like I said – air travel before the smoking ban seems pretty strange compared to today.
When the first commercial flights took off, smoking was forbidden. Why? Because it turns out lit cigarettes and wooden aircraft aren’t a good mix! Made highly flammable canvas, it’s not hard to see why you might want to ban smoking on these flight decks.
Once the enclosed cabin was invented, aircraft were no longer limited to domestic flights. In the United States, passengers were jetting around from New York to Los Angeles. The first half of the 20th century was truly the golden age of in-flight smoking. Passengers would complain that their cigarettes tasted different – thin air at higher altitudes meant they would burn slower.
Unbelievably (according to an extract from Flying Across America: The Airline Passenger Experience by Daniel Rust) – and I never thought I’d write this – the “practice of tossing lit cigarettes out of aircraft windows became troublesome…” What?! How do they even open the windows?
During this time United Airlines would provide complimentary cigars on their men-only service – which is a pretty good indication of how much times have changed since. Surely this is ludicrous – right?