5 Easy Ways to Get Thrown Off a Plane

When it comes to behavior that will get you kicked off a plane, think drink. Alcohol seems to play a part in most cases of “bad behavior,” but not all. Not by a long shot.

Read about some fabled in-flight drinking disasters

5 Easy Ways to Get Thrown Off a Plane

Follow these examples and you are grounded. Follow the “smart tips” after each item, and you may stay on the plane.

But first, listen to FareCompare’s Rick Seaney and Anne McDermott talk about flagrant examples of behavior that will get you the boot:

1. Obscenities (Verbal and Visual)

Most of us do not have to be told that “F-bombs” are taboo, but Robert Sayegh did not realize that or I am sure he never would have muttered that obscenity aboard his Atlantic Southeast Airlines plane this past June. In his defense, the curse words were not directed at anyone, just a general comment on a delayed take-off. Did not matter; he was booted from the plane.

See a Who’s Who of people who were kicked off planes

And so was Lorrie Heasley, back in 2005; it was not anything she said but what she wore: a T-shirt featuring former president George W. Bush and some of his cabinet with the legend, “Meet the Fockers” (only it said something just a tad different). She refused to cover up and had to leave the plane.

Smart tip: Watch your language, watch your clothing and do not watch X-rated movies on the laptop (especially when sitting next to little kids).

2. Bad Body Odor

In the past, if a smelly passenger was stinking up the plane, it was no big deal because planes had room to spread out in and you could always protect yourself behind a barricade of empty seats. Not anymore, thanks to all the capacity cutting done by the airlines, so I think we will hear more stories like the one about the Air Canada Jazz passenger who got the boot last year because of “brutal” body odor.

Smart tip: Do I have to tell anyone to shower before a flight? But some may not realize that eating smelly foods in close quarters can be just as offensive, so go easy on the tuna salad and garlicky dills.

3. Illness or Just Looking Sick

Many would not think of missing a flight because of a bad cold but if a flight attendant thinks your symptoms look suspicious or severe, you may get grounded. This was particularly true a couple of years ago when the so-called swine flu pandemic swept through much of the world; back then, United Airlines told a haggard-looking passenger in Florida that she could not fly, even though all she was suffering from was medication side-effects.

Then there was the case of two women escorting an elderly, wheel-chair bound relative on an EasyJet flight out of Liverpool; the porter who was assisting the old man got concerned because the fellow looked very bad. In fact, he had expired.

Smart tip: If you are sick, stay home. You will feel better and so will your fellow flyers.

4. Too Fat, Too Thin

You heard enough stories to know that even big-time Hollywood movie directors get the boot if an airline (in this case, Southwest) decides they are too big for one seat and there is not another available. But sometimes, there is a twist.

On another Southwest plane about a year ago, a thin passenger was booted so a large 14-year-old traveling alone could have the additional space/seat. They did not want the kid to get stranded. Good for them.

Smart tip: Know your airline’s “customer of size” policies before you board so you do not get gobsmacked at the gate.

5. Making Passengers or Crew Members Uncomfortable

A news report quoted an airline crew member as saying “some” aboard an Atlantic Southeast Airlines in May were made “uncomfortable” by the two passengers who happened to be American Muslim religious leaders in traditional garb. They were taken off the flight that would have delivered them to a conference on Islamaphobia.

And “uncomfortable-ness” is the only reason I can come up with to explain why the young professional woman was taken off her JetBlue flight this summer; she was dressed in baggy T-shirt (and more!) but apparently there were concerns that she might not be wearing much underneath her shirt. She proved otherwise by lifting her tee to show the denim shorts underneath, but was not allowed back on the plane.

Smart tip: I am at a loss here, but if any of you have good advice for these folks, please sound off.

More from Rick Seaney:

10 Ways to Get Kicked Off a Plane


Published: October 12, 2011