WASHINGTON, D.C.-The Federal Aviation Administration announced this afternoon that passengers aboard all hijacked commercial airlines would be allowed to smoke during those flights. "We realize that nothing calms down a smoker, like lighting one up," said a spokesperson. "And in times of crisis, we need our passengers to be as calm as possible."
The lift of the smoking ban only applies to hijacked flights originating in the U.S., and extra federal air marshals are being hired to ensure all passengers comply with the new rule.
Smoking would only be allowed in the back 6 rows of the hijacked aircraft, and the actual hijackers would still not be allowed to smoke.
"We're only willing to go so far with lifting the ban...we have to think of the safety of the crew and passengers," added the spokesperson. Smoking in the lavatory will remain forbidden.
Most of the airlines publicly applauded the move today, and Wall Street reacted swiftly to the news with both airline and tobacco stocks showing positive gains. The smoking ban is the only regulation that will change during a hijacking, "Passengers will still have to keep their seat belts on, their tray tables up, and their seats in their upright and locked position...our marshals will particularly be on the lookout for those types of violations."
Shortly after the announcement from the FAA, United Airlines announced that it will offer half-priced beverages on all of it's hijacked flights, with a 2-drink minimum. "Correct change or credit card only," according to a United source, who asked not to be identified.
Delta Airlines countered later in the day, offering a 30% discount and free shipping on all passenger SkyMall purchases made during any of it's hijacked flights. However, those discounts will not be made available to the hijackers.
"It's a real win for our passengers, " said a spokesperson. "They'll be so busy shopping great deals from Brookstone, Sharper Image, and many other of our partners that they'll hardly notice the chaos going on in the cockpit and cabin."
The FAA says the new rule will take effect September 1st.