On my two flights home from Colorado I figured out a sure fire strategy to use electronic cigarettes for smoking on planes. I tried it on 2 separate flights and it worked great!
As many e cig smokers out there know, it isn’t always easy to simply “smoke anywhere” especially for smoking on planes like all the advertisements selling the devices claim. Until the use of e cigs is more wide spread and people become familiar with the devices we will have be a little creative when smoking on planes.
In my last post I wrote about how I experimented with smoking electronic cigarettes in casinos. During that experiment I covered the lighted tip with my hand and fingers while taking a drag so I would not attract attention. I think this technique could be used in many situations but certainly not for smoking on planes. Here is why:
On planes people have to be very close to other people that they don’t know. These people tend to be very aware of everything people next to them are doing even if they are reading a book or watching a movie. If one only covers the tip of their e cig on planes, people are still bound to see you exhale some vapor even when holding it for a second before exhaling.
When covering the tip of your electronic cigarette in most other situations (not smoking on planes), if someone sees you exhale vapor they may question you, but they will be way more forgiving than if you are on a plane. You can then explain what an electronic cigarette is and why they are not affected by smoking bans etc. etc.
It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission in most situations, but not in the case of smoking on planes.
Strange activity on airplanes these days can create tension and sharp responses these days even 8 years after the 911 tragedy.
So what is an e smoker to do? It is very simple. Ask the flight attendant permission in a way that they are likely to say yes that also informs those around you what you are doing and what to expect.
I came up with this idea for smoking on planes on my first flight from Denver to Atlanta, Georgia on Air Tran airlines. Here is what I did:
- First, I use my pen-style e cig since it looks much less like a cigarette and I want to maximize my chances of the flight attendant saying yes.
- Second, I wait until drink service begins because most people are awake or will wake up and are paying a little more attention in anticipation of getting their drink and a bag of peanuts or pretzels or whatever airlines are giving out these days.
- Third, I speak loudly yet politely so the flight attendant as well as others around me can hear what I am saying.
- Fourth, I DO NOT refer to my electronic cigarette as an electronic cigarette when I am smoking on planes. I instead call it a “nicotine inhaler.”
Finally, I wait until the drink service comes around and use the opportunity to have a brief dialog with a member of the cabin crew while everyone else is listening. On both flights I did this, I got very similar responses from both flight attendants. The dialog goes something like this:
Fight attendant: Would you like something to drink?
Me: Yes, I would like apple juice, and may I ask you a question?
Flight attendant: Sure
Me: Is it OK if I use my nicotine inhaler on the plane? [I then show them my pen-style e cig]
Flight attendant: Nicotine inhaler? I don’t know. What is that?
Me: It’s a source of nicotine for smokers similar to nicotine gum or the nicotine patch. It is completely legal on airplanes and not affected by smoking bans, but I always ask because sometimes when I exhale a mist may come out of my nose and mouth and I don’t want other people to think that I am smoking. The mist is just water vapor that delivers nicotine to my lungs. May I show you what I am talking about?
At this point they will give their answer. They will be more inclined to say yes calling it a nicotine inhaler and comparing it to the gum and the patch which are obviously OK to use on a plane. Also, they are likely very curious at this point and will want a demo.
While doing a demo on the plane (also while asking) cover the lighted tip and hold the electronic cigarette by the tip so that not only does the flight attendant not see the lighted tip, but also so that it looks different than how one usually holds a cigarette. Also, inhale fully and hold it for a second or two before exhaling so there is little vapor on the exhale.
Like I said, in both cases I tried this the answer was YES!
After I got the go ahead from the flight attendants I sat in my seat on the airplane happily puffing away NEVER letting anyone see the lighted tip and tried to be conservative about the amount of vapor I exhaled.
I would be really curious to know if anyone out there has suggestions on how to improve my technique or has their own technique of electronic cigarette smoking on planes. If so please post a comment so everyone may benefit!