6 Strange and Unusual Airline Rules

Most airlines rules are pretty straightforward:  No getting up when the seat belt sign is on, or put the tray table back up during landing. But what about the antler rule or the tops-and-bottoms rule? Some rules are stranger than others, and here’s proof.

LISTEN: Even travel expert Rick Seaney was surprised by some of these rules. Read 6 Strange and Unusual Airline Rules Podcast Transcript

Strangest airline names ever

1. Clean antlers only

Traveling with antlers? No problem, says Delta, but they better be clean and be sure to wrap the skull and the pointy parts on the ends – then pay us $150 and we’ll be happy to transport them for you.

2. Clothing is not optional

Not all airlines say you must wear clothing – they generally expect this – but Virgin America likes to be extra sure so they state that any passenger “who is not wearing both top and bottom apparel” won’t be allowed onboard (hope that fellow from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is listening).

3. No stinking on the plane

American has a rule barring those with “an offensive odor” from its plane but other airlines have similar prohibitions against stinky passengers. This rule gets used too as a Canadian airline passenger discovered a few years; seatmates described the man as having “brutal” body odor.

4. Watch your language

Most airlines have various regulations regarding passenger behavior which boils down to, “Play Nice” but Alaska Airlines takes it a step further by barring “verbal harassment related to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”

5. No snakes on planes

Guide dogs are welcome on airlines, as are emotional support animals but there are limits. For example, United allows dogs and monkeys as service animals but says no to snakes, rodents, ferrets and spiders. Question: Has anyone ever actually tried to fly with a support snake?

6. No valuables allowed

This one may surprise you: Nearly every airline says no valuables are allowed in checked-bags. You cannot pack anything considered a valuable, and as far as JetBlue is concerned, a valuable is a fur or jewelry but also a doll, a pair of sunglasses, a map or even make-up. Does this rule stop anyone from packing valuables? Of course not, but it may give an airline some wriggle room if a valuable goes missing. I agree with the airlines; leave your valuables at home, or if you must, keep them on your person.

Where to Find These Rules

You can find these rules and much more in each airline’s Contract (or Conditions) of Carriage which can be found somewhere on its website, often under the heading, “legal.”


Published: February 18, 2014