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Metropolitan Digest / LOS ANGELES COUNTY NEWS IN BRIEF

LOS ANGELES : Charter Airline Catering to Smokers Debuts

September 29, 1993

A new private airline catering to smokers staged its first experimental Chicago-to-Los Angeles flight Tuesday, allowing its passengers to go puff, puff and away.

Freedom Air is dodging the smoking ban on commercial airlines in the United States because it is considered a "club," requiring members to purchase a one-time lifetime membership costing $20.

"It's basically a public charter service to give smokers their rights back," spokesman Randy Reich said. "I don't smoke, but I do believe in people's rights."

The Boeing 727 carried 50 to 60 passengers to Los Angeles International Airport. Other test flights are scheduled for Oct. 5 and 12, Reich said.

A one-way fare for the Chicago-Los Angeles trip was $201 and the round-trip fare was $402. The route was selected because it has about 40 flights a day on commercial, non-charter airlines, and could attract the most travelers, Reich said.

"If all goes well (Washington), D.C., New York and Texas" could be next, he said.

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