British Airways staff member examined for carrying an e-cig in Qatar

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After a recent incident in the Middle East recently, British Airways is taking steps to improve its employee and passenger protection. Reports from national papers say that one crew member from a BA flight faced intensive questioning from Qatari border agents after he tried to bring an e-cigarette into the Middle Eastern nation. Since this action, BA has clearly decided that selling e-cigarettes in flight to passengers is too risky when the plane is going to the Middle East, and with immediate effect they have banned the sale of e-cigarettes on those flights.

Newspaper reports say that, on January the 13, a BA employee was stopped by Qatari officials. He was carrying e-cigarettes, and there are severe restrictions on these devices in the country. Imports are also restricted, and this is the reason that the BA crew member was stopped, and then held for a long interrogation. Although the employee was eventually released, his e-cigarette was confiscated.

BA took the matter very seriously, and decided that continuing to sell those e-cigarettes on these flights was too risky. The airline announced its decision in a newsletter, stating that “BA has become aware that e-cigs can cause issues when taken into some countries, due to local legislations. With immediate effect, these products have been removed from long-haul flights to these countries, which include Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE”.

There are also plans for clear warnings to be given to customers, including passengers and airline personnel, in order to avoid a repetition of this problem. Airline staff has speculated that the recent problem was due, not so much due to his e-cigarette, but because of his job. The staff is saying that he was targeted because he is a crew member, and that most passengers would not have faced a similar interrogation. However, this claim is disputed by representatives from the Ogilvy Group UK. Rory Sutherland from that group told reporters that he had been thrown into a prison while in Qatar, detaining him after he had used an e-cigarette on the flight. The experience, he said, was terrifying.

It is clear that BA wishes to prevent other passengers and employees from experiencing similar problems in the Middle East, and a spokesperson stated that they are no longer “Selling e-cigarettes on some flights to ensure that nobody inadvertently falls foul of the local regulations”. It is an important reminder to those who use e-cigarettes to ensure that they know their destination’s e-cigarette laws and restrictions before travelling. It is better to do research before you land in order to avoid unpleasant experiences when arriving or leaving. Have other vapers had similar experiences when travelling with e-cigarettes?

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