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OFF THE TICKER

They Huffed and Puffed and Flew Their Plane In

September 28, 1993|Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Passengers smoked aboard airlines before 1988, when federal laws imposing limits were passed. That's when times changed for the airborne smoker.

Until now. Retired pilot Ted Hall has started a charter air service for smokers, called Freedom Air, scheduled to make its first flight Tuesday.

Hall, who also smokes, said he hates not being able to light up during an airline flight. He fidgets, he's restless. He finally resorts to chewing tobacco and spitting in a small paper cup.

"It's just murder," he said.

Only about 40 people were signed up last week for more than 150 seats on the plane, which will fly round trip from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport, Hall said. But Hall says he's confident that when word gets out, the smokers will come.

Two more charters are scheduled for early October.

"I just think it's unfair not to have accommodations for all kinds of people," Hall said. "It's not American."

But even Freedom Air will have smoking restrictions, as required by law. No lit pipes or cigars will be allowed. And no smoking in the bathrooms.

What will the air be like inside the plane when it reaches cruising altitude and everyone lights up?

Hall acknowledges that he doesn't yet know. But the airplane's manufacturer has assured him there's an adequate ventilation system to avoid problems, he said.

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