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United Airlines Grounds 5 Jets Because of Unusual ‘No Smoking’ Sign Regulation


Feb 13, 2024

Passengers of United Airlines experienced delays on Monday due to the grounding of five jets as a result of a peculiar rule about “No Smoking” signs, according to an airline spokesperson. United had written to the Department of Transportation earlier in the day to request an exemption from a requirement that flight crew be able to turn the signs on or off. This rule exists despite the fact that smoking has been banned on all US flights for 24 years. The airline explained that the four of the five Boeing models it operates have the signs “hardwired” to stay illuminated at all times and were granted an exemption back in 2020. However, the A321neo, which entered service last December, did not have an exemption from the rule. United ordered 70 of the jets in 2021 and an additional 60 last year, with its updated “United Next” interior. Only two A321neos were in the air and all later scheduled flights using them were swapped to other aircraft types during this time.
United Airlines stated that they are removing their five Airbus A321neo aircraft from service while seeking FAA approval for the “No Smoking” sign to remain automatically illuminated instead of operated from the cockpit. No flights were canceled as United was able to replace the A321neos with other aircraft types. The FAA also mentioned that they are “working to quickly resolve a non-safety issue that United Airlines discovered with some of its Airbus A321neo aircraft.” Later on, a United spokesperson announced that the FAA granted permission to continue operating the jets while evaluating the exemption request. The spokesperson stated that there were only a “handful of delays” during the time the A321neos were “briefly out of service.”

By Editor

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