BURBANK, CALIF. -- Catrina Hyler, always nervous on takeoffs, said she will miss the clatter of cigarette lighters, including her own, that used to echo through the airplane when the "No Smoking" light went out.

Preston Lane, aircraft maintenance manager for Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) at the airport here, will have to find some other way to detect little air leaks in the cabin, now that the tell-tale brown nicotine stains on the walls will not be there to guide him.

Dennis Carney, a pilot for Continental Airlines, wonders if his passengers will sneak into the lavatories, like high school freshmen, to enjoy a surreptitious smoke and give him another fire hazard to worry about.

But in the fifth day of California's landmark ban on airline smoking, such fears and regrets seem to have come to nothing, and this major beachhead in the expanding war against public smoking in the United States appears secure.

As if to signal that this is an idea whose time has come, initial airline resistance to the new California law has in just a few days shriveled like a burning tobacco leaf. When the state legislature last year passed the law banning smoking in all intrastate flights, as well as bus and train trips, as of Jan. 1, most airlines said they considered it invalid, and would wait until new federal antismoking rules took effect April 22.

Then Delta Airlines announced a few days before Jan. 1 that it would honor the California law as "a way to get our feet wet" before the federal smoking ban on all flights under two hours, spokesman Jim Lundy said. PSA and United Airlines followed suit on New Year's Eve. Alaska Airlines announced Monday it would comply.

Yesterday, American Airlines announced it would obey the new state law beginning Monday. "We wanted to minimize passenger confusion in regard to different rules on smoking on different airlines," spokesman Jim Brown said.

Continental flight attendant Maurine Cuccia radiated the relief and joy of a prisoner released from torture as she walked through Los Angeles International Airport yesterday. "I've been burned so many times by people who hang their arms in the aisle with a cigarette in their hands," she said. "They don't think it's a big deal, but it hurts."

"My roommate {also a flight attendant} and I were just comparing scars," she said, pointing to a mark on her arm. "I got this one in Chicago."

Felice Tanenbaum, chief of staff to the California law's original sponsor, Sen. Nicholas Petris, said "so far we've been getting very good news" about reaction from passengers. Fines under the law range from $100 to $500 for a third offense, but all reports so far indicate compliance has been good.

Last week's report of an altercation between smokers and flight attendants on a Boston-to-Los Angeles Trans World Airlines flight helped alert many people to the new state law, even if the temporary smoking ban on the TWA flight had nothing to do with California's ban. "A lot of people are asking me if I put that story together," Tanenbaum said.

Nonsmoking passengers interviewed yesterday appeared pleased, without exception. "I think it's absolutely wonderful," said Mark Stern, a Washington-based Justice Department attorney waiting to board a PSA flight from Burbank to San Francisco. "The smoke from the smoking section would always drift forward or backwards."

Many smokers also said they supported the new law as long as it was confined to relatively short flights. "I usually sit in the nonsmoking section anyway," said Lisa Klein, a sales representative putting away her cigarettes as she prepared to board an Alaska Airlines flight to San Francisco. "You can't really breathe in the smoking sections."

Some smokers said they would comply, but sensed little logic or justice in the new era of the militant nonsmoker. "Fifteen years ago nobody complained about smoking in airplanes. Now everybody is so sensitized," said Eugene McCarthy Jr., a film property manager who is not related to the former U.S. senator. "The law is fine, but I think it would be nice if there was a little town somewhere where everybody had to smoke."

"It's my privilege {to smoke}," said Don Hudson, pointing to the cigarette he held as he waited in the Continental terminal at Los Angeles International. "I pay taxes on these things."

Three PSA flight attendants, interrupted as they discussed the ban, noted many passengers smoked to relieve the tension of flying. "I'm wondering," said one, "if we won't now have people drinking a lot more." Special correspondent Matt Lait contributed to this report.