Ashtrays on planes…

Anyone who has taken a plane in the last 10 years around the world had a nice little message telling you that you are not allowed to smoke on board. And for those traveling on a US airline will have had the extra little bonus about the federal offense and that you will get sentenced to death in case you tamper with the detection device.

On a recent plane from Asia back to Canada, on board of a very recent 777 that had a completely updated interior, I got this message again. So can someone tell me why there is actually an ashtray in the lavatory, especially if it is placed just below the big “No Smoking in Lavatory” sign:

I can understand an ashtray in very old planes (those that are over 10 years old and that didn’t go through a complete overhaul since). But on a very modern one, I have to say that this evades me completely! Perhaps they are expecting the regulation to change, just as this is becoming the case with cell phones and wireless devices for Internet access.

Update 10 March 2011: I finally got an answer from the team at the AirplaneGeeks Podcast – here is the link to the episode with the answer: http://www.airplanegeeks.com/2011/03/08/episode-138-the-radial-rocket/

Swiss Francs are not accepted as a currency at my Canadian Bank!

I had some Swiss Francs that I wanted to get exchanged and put on my Canadian bank account today. So I happily go to my branch here in Ottawa with my foreign money, wait kindly in line and when comes my turn, ask if they could put this on my bank account, expecting to get charged a ridiculous amount for transaction fees, and potentially even requiring them to send it to a central place to process the currency exchange. Well, it’s even more fun than that: They simply won’t take it!

It really sounded like the currency from Switzerland was the equal of the one from a third-world country where the exchange rate changes by the minute due to civil war… so when I asked what currencies are actually accepted by my bank, the answer was simply US Dollars and British Pounds (at least one European currency, thanks to the Queen). Yes, you’ve read correctly, my bank in Canada isn’t even willing to exchange Euros.

And for those who ask, I am banking with one of the biggest ones in Canada who charge a fortune for a normal account per month, not a small unknown internet bank. I was already convinced that the banking system in this country is completely outdated, but this was just the little extra that confirmed everything. The only solution for me is to go to a currency exchange place downtown (yes, where the tourists go) and then take the Canadian Dollars to bring them to my branch! Not impressed…