If you think the air travel experience generally stinks now, consider what it was like before smoking was banned on domestic flights 25 years ago.
Tracy Sear, a flight attendant with US Airways, was looking over some Facebook posts from colleagues recalling those bad old days when a third or more of passengers on any flight puffed away, and cabins were foul with smoke. When I spoke with her the other day, she read one of those posts to me: “Suitcases, uniforms, hair — all stunk from cigarette smoke. And it’s astounding that we didn’t have more cabin fires.”
It’s probably difficult for anyone who isn’t middle-aged or older to comprehend, but people could smoke cigarettes on airplanes until Feb. 25, 1990. That’s when the federal government, after years of pressure from a union, the Association of Flight Attendants, finally banned smoking on all but a handful of domestic flights over six hours in duration. Ten years later, smoking was prohibited on flights between the United States and foreign destinations. Today, virtually every commercial flight in the world is smoke-free.