Spirit Airlines Passenger Banned For Life After Vaping Onboard

One man’s flight on Spirit Airlines went slightly askew last week after he broke several FAA regulations concerning smoking and consuming BYO alcohol onboard a flight. The man, a 30 year old St Petersburg, Florida, resident has since been banned for life from Spirit Airlines. Depending on your opinion of Spirit Airlines, this may or may not an entirely bad outcome.

The gentleman, who has not been named, was flying from Detroit to New Orleans onboard NK985 on Tuesday 4th June. Clearly not a frequent flyer, he lit up an e-cigarette but ever so politely blew the vapour into a bag. A Flight Attendant told him this was not allowed. According to CNN, he was “admonished.”

Spirit Airlines Passenger Banned For Life After Vaping Onboard
Spirit Airlines bans a passenger for life after vaping onboard. Photo: Tomas del Caro via Flickr

Like another Spirit Airlines smoking incident reported last month, perhaps this gentleman just didn’t see the no smoking signs. Perhaps flying onboard an airline recently ranked the USA’s second worst airline just really makes you want to light up a ciggy.

America’s new least favourite passenger

But back to the present matter on NK985 and, clearly not admonished enough, the man was later seen by the same Flight Attendant heading for the toilet and a vaping session. Unfortunately he promptly set off the smoke alarms.

This forced the aircraft to descend some 35,000 feet to shut the alarm down.

An unimpressed fellow passenger soon let slip that the man was eschewing the paid bar service in favour of his own BYO supplies. Given that Spirit Airlines charges USD$8.00 for a beer and USD$9.00 for a mini bar size bottle of bottom shelf spirits, the gentleman perhaps thought he’d get better value bring his own.

When the plane landed, America’s current least favourite passenger was met by Jefferson Parish sheriffs. He told the sheriffs he did not know smoking was not allowed onboard. Jefferson Parish sheriffs found the man conciliatory and polite and did not arrest him. Always good advice to be polite.

Spirit Airlines Passenger Banned For Life After Vaping Onboard
Fellow passengers and the Flight Attendants won’t appreciate you vaping onboard. Photo: Lindsay Fox via Flickr

Spirit was not so forgiving, banning him for life. This may seem tough but as Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s spokesperson, Capt. Jason Rivarde told CNN,

“[Spirit is] a private business that can ban customers at their own leisure.”

Luckily for our misguided vaping passenger, there are plenty of alternative airlines to fly on next time.

But it’s not really funny

Okay, so clearly this writer finds the whole incident vaguely amusing. But he wasn’t onboard and there is nothing funny about an inconsiderate passenger on your flight, disrupting the peace and breaking the well established and well known rules.

FAA regulations expressly forbid smoking (including e-cigarettes) and consumption of your own alcohol onboard aircraft in the USA. This ban has been in place in the USA for several decades and it’s now standard practice around the world. It’s a rare flight when the regulations have not been announced by a Flight Attendant once the doors are closed and the aircraft is pushing back.

China, however, has been a laggard. It has only just recently banned smoking on commercial flights. But nearly one third of the Chinese population smokes, so the social pressure to ban smoking there was less intense than it was in the west.

Spirit Airlines Passenger Banned For Life After Vaping Onboard
Chances are there be less smiles if you get met by the police after vaping onboard a flight. Photo: West Midlands Police via Flickr

Most frequent flyers have a horror story concerning a passenger on a flight who had no idea how to behave. The issue can be exacerbated on low cost carriers like Spirit Airlines who often fly infrequent flyers who aren’t travelling on holidays and who may not be 100% clued-up to the social etiquette of flying. A 2018 Which? survey found one in 10 passengers had experienced bad behaviour onboard a flight.

Simple Flying has contacted Spirit Airlines for comment on this incident but the airline had not replied by the publishing deadline.

Got a story of bad behaviour on a plane? Let us know at Simple Flying and post a comment.

6 comments
  1. No Smoking should be clearly pre-printed on all boarding passes and signages placed at boarding gate and in the aircrafts.

    1. There are plenty of no smoking signs in the aircraft itself, and the crew also announce that smoking is prohibited. Is that not enough?
      Great that Spirit took such tough action! Hopefully more airlines will introduce a zero-tolerance policy with regard to passenger transgressions.

  2. He should be banned worldwide on all irlines for life. If someone travelling by plane does not know that smoking is not permitted by now, then its their own fault.

  3. Smoking an E cigarette is not smoking .There is absolutely no smoke and no fire in those cigarettes just steam so i ll play the devil’s attorney saying that the passenger was not commtting a huge crime especially if Spirit Airlines did not mention Smoking is banned even for E cigarettes.
    The passenger bringing his own beverage may not be welcomed to do so but here again,not a big crime.
    Nothing compared to drunk passengers on European airline RyanAir spitting ,insulting everyone on board and creating chaos.
    I wish those were banned for life by RyanAir or other European Airlines.

  4. E-smoking vapor contains a whole host of horrid substances that non-smokers don’t want to have to breathe: if nicotine junks can’t take a flight without having to vape, then they should stay on the ground…preferably in a shelter for junks. From Wikipedia:
    “E-cigarettes create vapor made of fine and ultrafine particles of particulate matter,[1] which have been found to contain propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, flavors, tiny amounts of toxicants,[1] carcinogens,[96] heavy metals, and metal nanoparticles, and other substances.[1] Its exact composition varies across and within manufacturers, and depends on the contents of the liquid, the physical and electrical design of the device, and user behavior, among other factors”.

  5. Ok, being ignorant and not knowing that your vape is equal to smoking in the eyes of most people, you get a pass for a single offence. When you are now informed but then decide to try and hide it and smoke in the restroom, your pass is revoked and you are an official proven idiot. As far as brining his own “nips,” unless he was drunk or belligerent , no harm no foul. I have had flight attendants give me complimentary beverages and saved a few for my connecting flight. It sounds like he made a poor choice but I don’t think he was a drunken fool, just a regular old sober one.

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