Blu e-cigs to give out free samples on charter flights- will other airlines follow suit?

Smoking has been banned on most flights since June of 2000.

Charter airlines, however, have the option of allowing smoking as long as passengers who wish to be seated in a non-smoking section are offered a non-smoking seat. E-cigarettes are a great option for allowing addicts their nicotine fix while not polluting the air around them, but the devices, which emit no smoke or fumes, are inexplicably banned on most major carriers. Spokespeople for Southwest and American confirmed their bans to USA Today:

“We have no plans to offer e-cigarettes, and we currently do not allow their use in-flight,” Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins says.

Neither does American Airlines, spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan says. “We have no plans to allow any cigarettes on our aircraft,” she says.

Hopefully, that unreasonable position will change- perhaps in part because of a new partnership between Long Beach, California-based Global Exec Aviation and popular e-cigarette manufacturer Blu, who plans to offer free samples on Global Exec flights. Blu’s president commented on the promise e-cigarettes hold in making flights more comfortable to those who smoke:

“Definitely it’s the first step,” Jason Healy, president of Blu Cigs, says of the partnership with Global Exec Aviation of Long Beach. “It’s largely to gather feedback … and just highlight the fact it’s an option.”

As for Global Exec, operations manager Jason Holi says the partnership was inspired by a potential customer that axed a $300,000 deal when told he couldn’t smoke onboard:

A key factor in why he welcomed them onto the private jets managed by his company was the loss of a customer who would have paid $300,000 for a trip to South Africa but backed out when he learned he couldn’t smoke during the flight.

“We’re in a customer-service industry,” Holi says. “If I have a passenger who’s a white-knuckle flier but a heavy chain smoker, I want to make it as accommodating as possible for him.”

Holi did acknowledge that some purists may even have a problem with marginalized smokers getting their tobacco fix that way. Have you tried to reduce or eliminate smoking using an e-cigarette? Have you found them to be an acceptable substitute?

[USA Today via Fark]