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Hello and welcome to Seat 1A!

When you travel, do you ever wonder how you can be that person who is always ahead of the pack, even when things go awry? Hosts Vinod Viswalingam (@VViswalingam) and Geoff Dahl (@geoffdahl) are proud to present The Seat 1A Podcast.

Seat 1A aims to provide savvy travellers with advanced industry based knowledge to enhance the air travel experience and take off from the crowd. By arming you with an understanding of the systems, processes, rules and structures that define modern air travel, Seat 1A strives to give you the upper hand by examining real experiences from abroad.

Whether traveling in ultra-economy or first-class, with or without frequent flyer status, knowing how the operation works will keep you moving in front of the masses, especially when things don’t go as planned. Seat 1A provides tips and tricks on how to make your travel experience as smooth and efficient as possible. Our goal is that you'll be in Seat 1A all the time!

We have over 5 million miles of flying and over 10 years working for numerous airlines, enjoying all classes and cabins, and exploring airports on every continent. We're enthusiastic #avgeeks, with a keen interest in modern aviation trends and aim to share our knowledge in The Seat 1A Podcast. To learn more about who we are, check out Experience 010!

The Seat 1A Podcast also relies on feedback from listeners, offering the chance to take real experiences and analyze them, breaking them down to understand what happened, where things went well or wrong and what can be learned from it. If you have a story, question or experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In the meantime please find us wherever you download your podcasts, and tell all your friends!

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Nov 19, 2021

In this experience we look at the history of smoking on flights. Geoff and Vinod remember smoking on flights, the ashtrays in the seats, and the turning off of the no smoking sign.

A question that Vinod was (and still is) asked is, "Are the smoke detectors in the lavatory real?" Absolutely. The purpose is all about putting out the live flame. But if smoking is not allowed on flights, why are there still ashtrays in lavatories?

While Vinod never caught anyone in the act of smoking on the flight, he had numerous cases where passengers had been smoking just prior to his interaction. If passengers are caught smoking, it's a chargeable offense.

Vinod shares a story of a Mountie that had to fly to Mexico for a day, due to supervise a passenger who had been caught smoking on charter flight.

We open the history books on smoking on flights. When and where did it end? (Hint, much more recently than you may think.) We take a look at a few plane crashes. Firstly, how smoking played a role in the investigation of a 1985 Japan Airlines crash. Next, we look at the 1973 Varig flight that showed the need for early detection of fires in the lav. We finally look at the 1983 Air Canada flight which showed the need for smoke detectors and fire suppressants in the lav.

Fire on board is a scary, scary, thing.

Vinod shares his story of a random Portuguese charter in Edmonton. In general, private carriers do a lot of what they want.

Smoking lounges still exist in various countries – Geoff shares his experience from Frankfurt and Vinod shares his experience from Tokyo.

We look briefly at a US Supreme Court case where onboard smoking was one of the key reasons for the trial.

Pro tip – if you see or smell smoke, let your flight attendant know.

There were attempts in the US to start a smoker's airline, however it never was able to get in the air.

These days the only place you'll see cigarettes in an airplane is in duty free.

News Items:

  • article "Los Angeles Airport Approves New Terminal, Concourse for 2028 Olympics."
  • article "Dubai International launches food and duty-free ordering service for passengers

If you have a story about smoking on board, fire on board, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at