6 Strange and Unusual Airline Rules Podcast & Transcript

Rick Seaney and Anne McDermott recently sat down to discuss some of the unusual and strange airline rules that are plagueing the industry these days.

LISTEN: to the podcast as travel expert Rick Seaney was surprised by some of these rules.

Rick: Thank you for joining us on the FareCompare weekly podcast.  My name is Rick Seaney, and I am the co-founder of FareCompare.  We are going to chat a little bit about some unusual airline rules.  I wrote a recent colum on this particular topic, and um I’ve seen lots of rules, and I have been doing this almost over a decade now. And, I’ve sort of picked some of the most unusual ones, and I think most of us have seen those because that’s what mostly ends up in places like Huffington Post, and a variety of other locations we like to read and sort of wax upon.  And, joining me today to talk a bit about that is our editor from the website here at FareCompare, from California today, Anne McDurmott.  Hey, Anne!

Anne: Hey, Rick. These rules may not apply to you, or they may not apply to you very often. However, if you are traveling with antlers, you better pay attention.

Rick: Yes, I live in Texas and antlers are a thing that you would want to carry from time to time.  I didn’t realize that traveling with antlers could be a $150 dollar endeavor, but it looks like you can transport them. Evidently, they must be clean though. I’m not sure what you want to attach to those antlers if you bring it onto the plane, but definitely, you can bring your antlers on.

Anne:  Yes.  Now, some people – and I have seen this on certain websites where they famously pick pictures of travelers in airports – but we just want to remind people that clothing is not optional on any of the airlines, and most of them in fact will tell you that you must wear clothing.  I think the funniest one is Virgin America – they like to make sure everyone is wearing both top and bottom apparel.

Rick: As though you might be unaware that the bottoms were missing.

Anne: Yeah! Well, so people know, gentlemen have been told to pull up there pants if they have been dressed in that fashionable sort of half-mass look. They must not have saggy trousers.  So, that is something to be aware of. You could even get kicked off your flight if you argue the point, so just keep that in mind.  And also, one airline, I think it is US Airways, actually says you may bare your midriff, but not all are amendable to that.

Rick:  Interesting. Yeah, I know? The thing about it too is there are different judges and juries, right! Every flight attendant, gate agent, pilot for example, could be completely different on their morays. So basically, they are the judge and jury – what they say goes, and typically, depending on who you get, you might get somebody on completely different ends of the spectrum.

Anne:  And if you want to argue the point, argue it after the flight.

Rick: Absolutely. Arguing and airports are like vinegar and oil. You end up at home, or even worse, in the pokey for a while!

Anne: This next rule surprised me because almost every airline has this listed in their Contract of Carriage, and it is that passengers cannot have a bad odor.

Rick: And I guess odor is in the nose of the beholder, so?

Anne:  I’ve got the feeling it’s got to be pretty bad.

Rick:  I would think so. We’ve only seen a couple stories in the last several years where somebody actually got removed from a plane from body odor of a variety of that sort.  So, that doesn’t tend to at least hit the wires very often.

Anne: No, but it does happen. And also, as long as we are on this subject, don’t have a lot of garlic for lunch, ok! That would be helpful to me personally.

Rick: Planes are so packed today, Anne.  I’m so surprised that this has not happened more often.  You know, I think the only time I have been brought to my knees is when a time on the metro in Paris. So, I mean, when odors are there, they can really take you down.

Anne:  Well, how do you feel about snakes on a plane.

Rick:  Ahhh, you know, I don’t have a big problem with snakes.  I grew up with snakes as a kid.  I used to like to go out to the creek and sort of get them, so I’d be a little more worried about ferrets and rodents – I’m not a big fan of those creatures.

Anne: Well, as we all know, guide dogs are welcome on all airlines, and so are emotional support or emotional service dogs – they are any kind of animals, actually. By the way, did you know there are service monkeys? There ARE service monkeys.

Rick:  I know, and the research I saw for that I had never heard of that before. In fact, I am positive I have never seen that before, either.

Anne: But united, for example, will allow the dogs and the monkeys, but they day if you have an emotional support snake or rodent or ferret, or an emotional support spider, no!

Rick:  No go? I can imagine a spider being unleased on a plane, and what havoc that could cause.

Anne:  Well, you know, he could just be going for a walk down to the galley to get a drink for his companion.

Rick: Absolutely!  So yeah, I think the number one thing that really gets people tossed off a plane is language.  Usually it is alcohol followed by language?

Anne:  Yeah

Rick: Or sometimes language followed by alcohol? I guess in either way.  But again, remember the gate agents, flight attendants, and pilot are the judge and jury on language. So, one person’s cuss word is another person’s, you know, local sailor speak.

Anne: Yeah.  And, you have commented on this again and again, you should not bring valuables, but in many cases I think people would be surprised to know that the airlines actually have a law that says that you can NOT pack valuables, even in your check in luggage

Rick:  Yeah, I was surprised by that too. I think again too, those are sort of guidelines that the airlines toss out there. But the bottom line is there not going to – you are going to be fighting some sort of an insurance claim if you do do that, since it is in the Contract of Carriage. You are going to be swimming upstream on that particular fight.

Anne:  Yeah.  Keep them on your person, you know. Or, leave what you can at home. I mean, how many of us have to bring our tiaras with us when we fly?

Rick: Yeah.  I’m surprised too, I mean, there are so few people who check bags today because of the 50 round trip fee for bags ? I’m surprised anybody actually puts anything of value inside their checked bags.

Anne:  If you want to learn more about this, you can go to the airline’s website and look up Contract or Conditions of Carriage, and if you don’t see that, look down at the bottom and you will see a little word that says legal.  Click that and you will find it.

Rick:  Yes, for those of you who have the time to do that, absolutely do that. Or you can just sort of catch some of the articles we write, which will take the highlights out for you.

For more information about this topic or others in the airline industry, go to FareCompare.com, or find us on iTunes.

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Published: February 27, 2014