British Airways is taking drastic measures to protect employees and passengers after a terrifying event in the Middle East. According to reports from the Mirror, a crew member faced a heated interrogation by border patrol agents in Qatar after he attempted to bring his e-cigarette into the country. The airline has decided that it is too risky to sell ecigs to passengers on flights to the Middle East and they have banned ecig sales from those flights effective immediately.
The problem began on January 13 when officials in Qatar stopped an airline employee that was carrying an electronic cigarette. The country has very strict regulations about ecig devices and imports and they held the employee for a long and difficult interrogation. Fortunately, the employee was released after a while, but his ecig was confiscated. After the encounter, airline officials decided that it’s too risky to sell ecigs on flights to Middle East countries.
“BA has become aware that e-cigarettes can cause issues when taken into some countries due to local legislation,” the airline wrote in a newsletter update. “With immediate effect, the product has been removed from long-haul flights to these destinations, which include Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.”
The airline also plans to give clear warnings to customers, passengers, and personnel to prevent them from landing in hot water for carrying electronic cigarettes. An unnamed airline employee has speculated that the recent encounter was not so much about ecigs as it was about the employee’s job. The source said the officials likely targeted him because of his job and a normal passenger wouldn’t have faced the same intense interrogation.
However, Rory Sutherland from the Ogilvy Group UK isn’t so sure. He told The Mirror that he was actually thrown into prison in Qatar after officials detained him for using his electronic cigarette on a flight. He described the whole experience as “terrifying”. British Airways wants to prevent their passengers and employees from suffering a similar encounter.
A spokesman for the airline said, “We have stopped selling e-cigarettes on some of our flights to ensure that no one inadvertently falls foul of local regulations.”
This is an important reminder to all vapers to learn the laws about electronic cigarettes before you travel. Do your research so you can avoid any unpleasant experiences as you enter and leave foreign countries. Have you ever had any issues traveling with your ecig?