Hong Kong – Korean Air will take strong action to eliminate smoking on board including that of e-cigarettes. Any passenger found smoking will be handed over to the local police immediately upon landing, regardless of the severity of the offense.

The airline also reminded its cabin crew of in-flight e-cigarette regulations. Cabin crew are being trained to be aware of the diverse types of e-cigarettes and take proper and strong action if passengers disregard the regulations.

Smoking during flights is strictly prohibited by law due to the risk of inciting fires. In addition, smoking can cause discomfort to other passengers and can also wear down the in-flight air filtration equipment.

In general, the number of in-flight smoking incidents at Korean Air has been declining every year: 266 in 2016, 240 in 2017, 208 in 2018 and 120 in 2019 as of September 2019.

However, common use of e-tobacco in cigarette or liquid form has led to an increase in the number of in-flight smoking incidents. In 2018, 34 percent of e-cigarettes on board were found to be smoked on the plane, but this year, the percentage of onboard e-cigarettes being smoked increased to 54 percent. Also, in addition to e-cigarettes being smoked in the lavatory, cases of smoking in cabin seats have become much more common.

Smoking e-cigarettes on the plane has been banned from 2008, when Korea’s Ministry of Government Legislation ruled that e-cigarettes were also tobacco products. E-cigarettes can be brought on board, but they may not be charged nor smoked.

Smoking on flights, including that of e-cigarettes, is a common concern for airlines around the world as it undermines the safety of the flight. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), also strongly regulate smoking on board, including that of e-cigarettes.

Under South Korean law, a fine will be imposed if in-flight smoking, including that of e-cigarettes, is detected.

According to Article 23.1.2 of the Aviation Security Act (passenger’s cooperative duties), in-flight smoking is strictly prohibited in order to ensure the safe operations and travel of aircraft and passengers. If a person smokes inside an aircraft on the ground or in the air, they will be fined up to 5 or 10 million won, respectively, as stated in Article 50 of the Aviation Security Act (penalties).

“The smoke detector attached to the airplane’s toilet does not only detect regular cigarette smoke, but also that of e-cigarettes,” a Korean Air spokesperson said. “Passengers’ cooperation is essential to tackle in-flight smoking, including that of e-cigarettes, which is an illegal act that seriously undermines the safety of the aircraft and is harmful to the health of passengers.”