Video: Justin Ross Lee Confronts Crew Over Smoking Pilots

Filed Under: China Southern, Videos

As some of you may recall, I wrote in great detail about my China Eastern flight between Los Angeles and Shanghai a few weeks back, where the pilots were clearly smoking throughout the flight. This was extremely unpleasant as the smell permeated throughout the cabin. At  first I didn’t know where the smoke was coming from, but after some of you chimed in sharing similar experiences, it was clear that smoking in the cockpit is a very common practice on Chinese airlines. This is in spite of the fact that it’s in clear violation of their own aviation authority’s regulations, and that China Eastern confirmed to me that they have zero tolerance for the practice.

We tried to call the crew out on it, though that didn’t go very far (not that I blame the flight attendants for this).

Well, Justin Ross Lee, probably the most controversial “travel hacker” out there, just shared his experience on Facebook of a recent China Southern flight, where he encountered a similar situation.

Here’s the video of him confronting the flight attendant about the smoking pilots (which is slightly not suitable for work — not because of anything his girlfriend is doing, for once, but rather because of some of the language he uses):

I know a lot of people have very strong opinions about Justin, but kudos to him for calling out the crew in this instance, in my opinion.

  1. The last part just shows that the guy is a dick, maybe what he has in his glass is to strong for him, he must have proud family.

  2. I mean, he might be a bit of a dick (though I imagine a lot of it is for show and for his “brand”), but he’s totally in the right to call the pilots out and to be upset about it. Maybe public shaming is what it’ll take to finally light a fire (no pun intended…) under Chinese airlines to crack down.

  3. He may be a dick, but he is correct about the smoking. Just more reason to never fly any China Airline.

  4. Harassing the FA is real manly. You should be ashamed. Why didn’t you go face to face with the pilot?

  5. His behavior is bad, you can complaint in many ways, that way he does shows bad maners.

    What should the flight attendant have done, gone to the cockpit and told the captain off, come on.

    The guy lacks grace an virtue, if that was my son i would have a serious talk about appearance – belt serious, sitting there with a glass swinging feeling like he is the bwana talking to flight attendant like that what a disgrace for his family.

    And let me just point out the obvious, there is no cigarette smell on camera, only an obnoxious person.

  6. The guy is a total douche. What’s with the sunglasses in an airplane. Really? It’s obvious the authorities in China don’t give a shit about this practice, so just suck it up, don’t fly those airlines if you can’t handle it, and stop being a prick to those poor flight attendants.

  7. Have to agree with @WR and others. Don’t verbally beat up on the flight attendants for something they cannot possibly control. As @WR said, just don’t fly Chinese carriers that tolerate smoking on the flight deck.

  8. I’m with Donna. The other passengers are too scared to say anything.
    They’ll throw them in front of tanks.

  9. Despite all the comments, I have to say that from Chinese website I saw many pilots talking about smoking during their flights so I think it might be a ‘common practice’ for smoker pilots.

  10. I love some of these comments. Yes, this guy should yell at the pilots, because passengers have access to the cockpit so that’s a totally reasonable thing we can all do.

  11. You are an idiot, lucky on your return the CACA don’t get you arrested, under CACA flight crews have the right to smoke in certain flight conditions and flight management phases. There is no FAA in China, all the CACA interface with the FAA is have category 1 rating to operate in/out of US ports. You’re behave like a white privilege brat. Be a man and write an apology to the airline for the way you spoke to the FA and post the letter on this website.

  12. He has obviously never flown EgyptAir!
    Even the FAs smoke in the front galley. When I complained they told me it was just the smell of Arabian herbs. I also got quite explicit then. 🙂

  13. Wow, “Mark O’Reilly”, care to shill for your airline job more while trying to pretend to be a Westerner? If you followed the blog at all you would know that the airline specifically said that smoking is banned in its cockpits, this isn’t something Lucky is making up for being sensitive about, it’s the rules. Sorry you got busted for smoking in the cockpit, “Mark”

  14. @mark o’reilly – You sound unhinged.

    To whom are you addressing your insanity? The guy in the video? Are you aware that he may never even see this post? Has it dawned on you that he doesn’t care what internet randos think?

    Are you seeing a psychologist? If so, you should consider it. If that doesn’t help, a neurologist may be in order.

    Thoughts are with you during this very challenging time for you.

  15. @Rick You linked to an article from literally 26 years ago… I’m willing to bet that things have changed since then.

  16. As much as I agree with him that they shouldn’t smoke on board, the guy is a pompous scumbag. You shouldn’t give him airtime, Lucky.

  17. What a scumbag! Feel free to file complaint about smoking to Pop or the President of USA! But you don’t have to be a dick! @Ben, I don’t think anyone doubt your experience on China Eastern! Do you have to use this scumbag video to approve your point?

  18. How is the guy being a dick at the end of if he’s only talking to the camera? The flight attendant was no longer around. Also she knows where it was coming from – yet she tried to pretend it was coming from the passenger compartment by going to the left instead of to the cockpit.

    Also, if he’s in first class (he looks like he’s the only one who is), he deserves to Be afforded some respect.

    I’m with him 100%.

  19. I guess China Southern doesn’t have “zero tolerance” for smoking.

    On a side note his Jewish mother should smack the shit out of him.

  20. @Dan Nainan an example on class and how to do it and not do it. “Please pass the bacon” the dick in the movie “Give me the bacon you swine”

    Which phrase will most certainly bring the bacon to the plate.

    To get respect you have to earn it even in first class, slavery is a thing in the past – if you didn’t notice.

    A good advice, be gentle and polite to people who serve your food – if you have an issue in threating people with respect.

    Finally why is he a dick;
    “conducting oneself in an inappropriate manner to the annoyance of others.”

    I am most certain that the guy will drink burgundy red from a bordeaoux glass, no class just a dick.

  21. We had the exact same experience on China Southern a month ago, including empty business class (just us and an older lady). It was horrible and was definitely the pilots. We complained, but FA just said ‘sorry’ and walked away.

  22. What’s the point of sharing the video. We already know that they smoke in he plane. This video doesn’t advance the point further and only gives this douch more views on YouTube.

  23. I’m guessing nothing will be done about this because mainland chinese is mainland chinese. It will only change when the plane bursts into flame but still lands so that officials can investigate and someone with a lot of money and connections was on the plane. If its just mainland chinese or a few poor sucker tourists who didn’t want to pony up a few more bucks for a better airline, thems the breaks. However, if that plane leaves chinese airspace and the pilots are still smoking they now become a danger to all flights within their proximity and that should be a criminal offense. Again, doubtful anything will be done. Only public shaming of D-chey behavior that significantly embarrasses China can fix this. The chinese mentality is “I have no use for your rules” or “why even care about that, don’t mind them”. I have lots of friends and family members who are chinese who lives by that motto.

  24. Why would anyone fly that POS airline.

    You get what you reap.

    DUH, everyone in China smokes and spits.

    A disgusting country.

  25. Is it just me or is JRL the Donald Trump of travel hobbyists? He speaks just like him!

  26. “mark o’reilly” = Chinese Communist party shill

    Avoid all airlines from mainland China like the plague. Taiwanese carries such as EVA and China Airlines are o.k.

  27. I would like to see something being done about this.

    An the subject of this dude. Never heard of him before, and doubt I will again but he tries to be a douche but his underlying insecurity prevents him form pulling off the “full douche”. He comes across a bit of a sad, I actually felt a bit bad for him. He is obviously trying to gain traction any way possible. .

  28. If my pilot is addicted to nicotine, and smoking a cigarette is going to calm his nerves, I say go for it. By the way, that guy is a dick.

  29. It will only be changed when the plane bursts into flames? More crazies in the comments than the original blogger!

    Smoking is still legal in the cockpit in the USA- here’s the current FAA regulation- Now, I’m sure that many airlines policies are different, and any people who have a low tolerance for second hand smoke should search out those airlines and fly them, like I do.

    But all the sanctimonious pricks who go on and on in the above comments about how this is illegal, will cause the plane to crash, etc- my advice would be the same as to the above blogger- please shut up and give up your passport- your snotty attitude and ignorance perpetuates the image of the ugly American.

  30. Justin Ross Lee may be right on the merit of his case, but he’s such a turd and a douchebag that any “rightness” he may have is lost in his dickishness.

  31. Mainland China still has a long way to go on many fronts before it can be considered a civilized country. So many totally uncouth. Somewhere I plan never visiting again.

  32. I’m quite amazed by the responses on here – I’ve seen 5 year old girls more able to take “abuse” than you seem to!

    I was expecting far, far worse given the comments here but I don’t think he did anything wrong whatsoever. The overt lying from the flight attendant brings the “abuse” (I can’t right that with a straight face! If that’s abuse how on earth do you cope in the real world?) know herself.

    Do I expect her to challenge the pilot? Of course. I don’t expect her to wrestle it from their mouths, but a simple “Sorry to bother you but a passenger can smell your cigarette and is threatening to report it” would suffice.

    As to the moronic suggestion that you talk face to face with the pilot – I take it you’ve not been on a plane in the last decade? Bang on the door demanding to see the pilot and see where that will get you…

    Finally, as someone sensitive to smoke (it causes instant sneezing and snot pouring from my nose – not pleasant), I’d be just as furious being trapped in a confined space with a smoker who isn’t allowed to be smoking.

  33. Is this a direct Chinese translation? “Proud Family” Dead giveaway. Not sure what having a “proud family” has anything to do with it? Maybe it’s a cultural thing….

    ” MAKP says:

    August 25, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    The last part just shows that the guy is a dick, maybe what he has in his glass is to strong for him, he must have proud family.”

  34. Good for him for complaining about the smoking! A less forceful person would have just taken it. It takes someone like him to shake things up – and let them know that this bothers people and is unsafe !

  35. The guy is an absolute douche… actually, stronger words intended, but decorum keeps me from using them here.

    Obviously, he’s too young to remember when there were entire smoking sections of the aircraft. Before my time, the stewardesses handed out ciggies to the pax.

    Apparently his new book is subtitled, “Confessions of a First-Class Asshole.” I would concur, although not in the way he’s intending it — he *is* an asshole of the first degree.

    Please don’t give this creep any further attention. He obviously feeds off of it. Depriving a troll of attention is the only way to make them go away.

  36. the way he spoke to the female member and his use o profanity when she clearly was courteous to him was sad to watch. made me want to smack him more than smacking the offending crew member!

    I hate the smell of cigarette just as much as Justin but I hate the way he’s loud and obnoxious just that tad bit more.

    It is people like him that make wonder just how serious airlines should take about going dry. he clearly cannot handle his alcohol.

  37. I feel the need to clarify that China Airlines, despite the “China” in the title, is in fact an airline based in Taiwan and is monumentally, drastically, completely different from China’s airlines. The crew is friendly, the food is great, and the hard product is very nice as well.

  38. JRL is quite the character. He’s obnoxious but you gotta kinda roll with it, he’s funny when you don’t take him seriously. Either way pilots smoking is not OK that shit would piss me off.

  39. Totally have to agree with those who think this guy is a complete douche.
    The sunglasses are enough to make him look like a pretentious ass. The way he holds his glass of wine while having his little tantrum only adds to it.
    The cherry on top is the way he speaks to the FA. He’s too much of a pussy to ask to speak to the pilot.
    Yet another self-important weakling with a camera and a blog.

  40. I don’t know what is the issue here? Smoking in cockpit and crew area on an airplane in the US is also legal. This is typical American behavior. Double standard held against other people. This is one of the reasons why Americans are so dislike around the world. The other is Americans often act like total douche bags. This video is a perfect example of both.

  41. I am surprised to read an article on this petty fraud and his companion, who lack civility and class, on your professional blog. I admire your attempt at providing a unique perspective towards the sensibility of this guy, but his actions off of the camera do not make up for his stunts in the media.

    I also find it amusing that his companion (by the way he demeans her in public, I think that even referring to her as a companion is too civil) genuinely believes that she is attractive. Both of them need a reality check on their self-appraisal.

  42. Yep, jerks like this give americans a bad name when they travel. Id like to see what happens if he tried to cop that attitude with a chinese official. Its a legitimate concern he raised but lets be hobest he only did it for the publicity and he showed zero class in how he treated the FA.

  43. Everyone is not getting the point – THE PILOTS ARE SMOKING ON A PLANE! If I was on that flight I would ask them to stop too – When your actions start affecting my life and others it’s time to speak up and REPORT, this to the FAA – Rather than knocking him down.

  44. That 1990 “smoking is allowed” reg is woefully outdated. Per *current* DOT rules:

    Air carriers shall prohibit smoking on the following flights:

    (a) Scheduled passenger flights.

    (b) Nonscheduled passenger flights, except for the following flights where a flight attendant is not a required crewmember on the aircraft as determined by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration:

    (1) Single entity charters.

    (2) On-demand services of air taxi operators.

    (c) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to require air carriers to permit smoking aboard aircraft.

    §252.5 Smoking ban: foreign air carriers.
    (a)(1) Foreign air carriers shall prohibit smoking on flight segments that occur between points in the United States, and between the United States and any foreign point, in the following types of operations:

    (i) Scheduled passenger foreign air transportation.

    (ii) Nonscheduled passenger foreign air transportation, if a flight attendant is a required crewmember on the aircraft as determined by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration or a foreign carrier’s government.

  45. I loved the latter part of Jared’s comment. Both of them are very unattractive in the physical sense and the behavioral sense.

  46. So, given Lucky has already publicised on OMAAT previously how JRL will crush nuts at his seat, then complain about said “planted nuts” hard to obtain onboard upgrade or later compensation (claiming his allergic to nuts, only to then – in his upgraded seat – to delight in ordering a bowl of nuts just to make sure the crew know he is a one douche con-merchant), and other similar fraudulent tactics to obtain dishonest benefit, it’s surprising Lucky is pushing JRL as a consumer champion here.

    Was there smoke? Maybe, but JRL is not the credible person to cite, given he’s quite proud of lying outright on multiple prior occasions. And he’s not the only one to play with the truth at times…

    Either way, if it’s not OK for an FA to verbally harrass and demean a passenger, it’s also not OK for a passenger to verbally harrass and demean an FA. Or to promote it.

  47. Given his history, it’s hard to take anything this douche does or says seriously. Hell, there or may not have been any smoking going on on that particular flight. This was just him doing it for the attention and possible compensation, like any good con man. I wouldn’t be shocked if he read Lucky’s original post about the smoking issue on Lucky’s flight and then booked a flight on that airline to get some drama going.

    Given how this guy has publicly admitted to his dirty tactics in many public forums, I’m surprised more airlines haven’t banned him yet.

  48. @Doctor Helpful and @Mike S, what morons you two are; trolling without putting your real name on record, hiding behind a made up name is sign of a weak, insure, person . Doctor Helpful, or should i address you as Dr Quack, tell all your real name DR…

    I know my stuff you two don’t, you two don.t

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