Smoker In Aircraft Toilet Causes Emergency Landing

A recent incident on a flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco seems senseless from several angles. First, a nicotine-addicted passenger sneaked a smoke in the toilet. The sky-high crime was then reported by flight attendants to the captain.

Despite the fact that the flight was just ten minutes from its intended destination, the Southwest plane was landed immediately in San Jose, about 50 miles south of San Francisco. There the offender was picked up by local authorities, and probably went free after paying a fine.

Did that end it? Of course not. The hundred passengers whose destination had been San Francisco had to scramble to find transportation to get there, including those scheduled for foreign flights. The question, unlike the flight, still hangs in the air. Was there any danger that required the sudden emergency landing for the safety of passengers and crew?

I recall flying when smoking was allowed in aircraft passenger compartments, as well as in restaurants, theaters, offices and everywhere else. A lifelong non-smoker, I’m thankful that it doesn’t happen anymore. But, was it necessary to divert the flight and screw up schedules for a hundred people because the stupidity of one addicted passenger?

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