An answer on travel.se suggests that some pilots are smoking on long-distance passenger flights.

Can passenger airliner pilots smoke if both the captain and first officer agree it’s ok? If I recall, smoking is only prohibited on flights that require cabin crew as a crew health issue (sidestream smoke) and not as flight safety issue. Given that cabin crew are not on the flight deck, is there anything that prevents a pilot on a larger airline from lighting up?

For the purposes of the question, let’s consider flights originating in USA, EU, UAE, and China as the four biggest country/areas.

  • $\begingroup$ What country/airline? $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Dec 14, 2018 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Good point. The originating anecdote wasn’t clear. I’m sure the USA and EU wouldn’t permit it but maybe flights out of UAE or China might. Added to question. $\endgroup$
    – RoboKaren
    Dec 14, 2018 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ According to the BBC "Chinese flight regulations prohibit all flight crew from smoking, and banned passengers from using e-cigarettes on board in 2006." $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Dec 14, 2018 at 19:28

1 Answer 1


All of the most significant countries prohibit smoking on airline flights, either through national, industry, or airline regulations. This applies to crew through different regulations, but as strictly as to the passengers.

Pilots can and sometimes do smoke in the cockpits of business jets. These can be as large as airliners (see BBJ), but usually aren't.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Even when a country and/or airline ban smoking in the flight deck, some pilots will ignore the ban and still light up. This was quite common with Asian carriers in the past. I am not sure how often it happens today. $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2018 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Mike - you are very correct. On a flight from LA to China recently you could absolutely smell cigarette smoke in the first class cabin so I asked a flight attendant about it and he said the pilots smoke all the time. $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Jan 9, 2019 at 1:54

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