Tourette Syndrome Man Kicked Off Plane for Saying 'Bomb'

Michael Doyle has Tourette Syndrome. The symptoms of this neurological disorder can include involuntary verbal tics which, as the National Tourette Syndrome Association points out, may include “socially inappropriate words or phrases.” Doyle used one of those inappropriate words while getting ready to take-off on a JetBlue flight from Washington, D.C., to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was kicked off the plane. The word was “bomb.”

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Man Involuntarily Says “Bomb”

As Doyle told a local television news reporter, “With all the stuff in the news about the Boston bombings and stuff I started ticking ‘bomb’ because that’s when I get nervous and anything on my mind will come out.”

It was the pilot’s decision to have Doyle ousted from the flight. FareCompare contacted JetBlue for more information and a spokesman provided us with the following: “[Doyle was] deemed a security concern by the pilot in command after using the word ‘bomb.’ After further investigation, the situation was deemed innocuous and the customer was offered accommodation on the next flight.”

Doyle’s friend and fellow traveler meanwhile was told he could remain on the flight but he chose to get off with his buddy.

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Tourette Man Alerted Airline and TSA to Issues

What is frustrating about this case is Doyle claims he did what the National Tourette Syndrome suggests to travelers with the disorder, he contacted JetBlue (as well as the TSA) before the flight to alert them to his situation to avoid just such an embarrassing incident. As Doyle said, “I mean they stood me up in front of everyone and told me like I’m in kindergarten that I’m not allowed to go on the plane.” By the way, the TSA had no problem with the young man even though he used the word “bomb” during the screening process.

Other Puzzling Passenger Ousters

Earlier this month, a United pilot diverted a flight and ordered a family with young children to get off after they complained about the content of an onboard movie.

Other recent incidents have involved travelers with disabilities like the teen with Down Syndrome who was denied boarding his American Airlines plane because he was supposedly too “agitated” to fly (a charge his father – who was traveling with him – strongly denied).

Also on American, autistic girl was allowed to fly but could not keep her iPad turned on during take-off and landing, despite the fact that it was the non-verbal teen’s only means of communication.


Published: April 29, 2013