On Monday, passengers of United Airlines experienced delays due to the grounding of five jets. The reason for this was an unusual rule regarding “No Smoking” signs, according to a report by an airline spokesperson to Business Insider.
United had written to the Department of Transportation earlier in the day, requesting an exemption for its Airbus A321neo aircraft from a requirement that flight crew be able to turn the signs on or off. Despite smoking being banned on all US flights 24 years ago, this rule is still in place and United was seeking an exemption for its A321neo aircraft. However, the company stated that four of the five Boeing models it operates have “hardwired” signs that remain illuminated constantly, and these planes were granted exemptions by the FAA in 2020. Unfortunately, the A321neo was overlooked and didn’t receive a similar exemption before entering service last December.
In response to this issue, United decided to temporarily remove the five A321neo aircraft from service as they sought FAA approval for the “No Smoking” sign to remain automatically illuminated, rather than per the cockpit’s operation. Those jets were replaced with other aircraft types and no flights were canceled. After a few hours of delay, a United spokesman reported that the FAA granted permission to continue operating the jets while their exemption request is evaluated. The FAA confirmed that they were resolving a non-safety issue with