The first person arrested under new regulations banning smoking on short airline flights says he's willing to plead guilty to smoking but would fight any more serious charge.
In an interview published Saturday in The Seattle Times, Darryl Seigel denied an official's suggestion that he may have tampered with a smoke detector in an airliner restroom during a USAir flight from Seattle to Reno, Nev.Seigel, 38, of Seattle, admitted smoking a cigarette in a lavatory during the Thursday flight but said he did so absent-mindedly. He said that if he is charged with "smoking in the lavatory, I'll plead guilty, but if it's for anything else I'll fight it."
Regulations that went into effect three weeks ago ban smoking on domestic airliner flights lasting less than two hours.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elly Brekke said Seigel is apparently the first passenger to be arrested under the new rules.
The lack of an alarm from the lavatory smoke detector caused the flight crew to suspect it was tampered with, Brekke said. It was given to maintenance workers for an inspection.
But Seigel said of the smoke detector, "I touched it, that's all, but I did not do anything other than look at it out of curiousity."
Brekke said the investigation should take 60 days, and Seigel faces three possible charges: Smoking when a no smoking sign is on, which carries a $1,000 fine; smoking in the lavatory, also a $1,000 fine; and tampering with a lavatory smoke detector, a $2,000 fine.