Vietnamese airline authorities have fined an Australian passenger for smoking in the bathroom of a Vietnam Airlines plane while flying from Australia’s Sydney to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday.
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The Southern Airports Authority (SAA) has issued a fine of VND4 million (US$187) to Ta Ngoc Tuan, a 49-year-old Vietnamese-Australian man, for smoking on Flight 772 of Vietnamese national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines on February 11.
Flight attendants caught Tuan smoking in the restroom of the plane after the cockpit detected signals from a fire alarm device.
They also found an open pack of cigarettes that Tuan left in the toilet.
The incident was reported to the airline and the SAA issued the said fine to Tuan based on Article 8.2 of Government Decree 147, which provides for a fine ranging from VND3 million ($140.4) to VND5 million ($234) for smoking on a flight.
According to the SAA and many carriers, such fine rates are not high enough to deter violators.
Although the ban on in-flight smoking is applied to all flights of all airlines operating in Vietnam, dozens of such violations still happen every year, the SAA said.
Tuan’s violation is the second case that has been recorded since the beginning of this year, the agency said.
Smoking on a flight poses the threat of fire and explosion, causes air pollution on flights, and disturbs passengers, the SAA said, adding that the handling of in-flight smoking cases can cause delays, affect flight schedules and passengers’ travel and business plans.