5 Jets Grounded by United Airlines for Unusual ‘No Smoking’ Sign Requirement

On Monday, passengers of United Airlines experienced delays due to the grounding of five jets. The reason for this was an unusual rule regarding “No Smoking” signs, according to a report by a United Airlines spokesperson to Business Insider.

United had written to the Department of Transportation earlier in the day, requesting an exemption for its Airbus A321neo aircraft from a requirement that flight crew be able to turn the signs on or off. Despite the fact that smoking was banned on all US flights 24 years ago, this rule is still in place. Meanwhile, four of the five Boeing models United operates have “hardwired” signs that remain illuminated constantly, and these planes were granted exemptions by the FAA in 2020. However, the A321neo was overlooked and didn’t receive a similar exemption before entering service last December.

In response to this situation, United decided to temporarily remove the five A321neo aircraft from service as they sought FAA approval for the “No Smoking” sign to remain automatically illuminated, rather than per the cockpit’s operation. Those jets were replaced with other aircraft types, and no flights were canceled. After a few hours of delay, a United spokesman reported that the FAA granted permission to continue operating the jets while their exemption request is evaluated. The FAA confirmed that they were resolving a non-safety issue with the A321neo aircraft. A “handful of delays” were to be expected as the planes were “briefly out of service.”

By Editor

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