Your plane ticket is your pass to far-flung destinations—on several conditions. Check your airline's contract of carriage; there, buried in pages of text, you'll find a list of violations that'll get you banned from boarding or even kicked off a plane.
Contracts of carriage vary slightly by airline, but most contracts have
some kind of language prohibiting passengers from doing anything that
endangers the safety or comfort of fellow flyers. This is all subject to
interpretation by airline employees, which is why we often see so many
wild stories of passengers getting the boot. So what, specifically,
shouldn't you do? The following seven behaviors should be avoided at all
1. Refuse To Buckle Your Seat Belt
for any reason a passenger can't or isn't willing to buckle his seat
belt, flight crew will probably show him the door. It happened to a
3-year-old boy who wouldn't buckle up on an Alaska Airlines flight. It
also happens when passengers are too large to fasten their seat belts.
Travelers are required by federal law to wear a seat belt on some phases
of all flights. And until recently, passengers of size could bring a
seat belt extender on board to help with fit. But in August, the Federal
Aviation Administration declared that flyers must be able to buckle up
using the aircraft's original seat belt or with an extender offered by
the airline, if available.
who get loud, become aggressive, and spoil the comfort of fellow flyers
could get kicked off a plane—even if they're still in diapers. The crew
of a JetBlue flight to Turks and Caicos
forced the family of a tantrum-throwing toddler to debark the plane in
March 2012. According to SmarterTravel editor Caroline Morse, "The
parents tried to hold the screaming toddler down in her seat with the
seat belt on, but the pilot and flight attendant made the decision to
kick the family off the flight and leave without them. Undoubtedly, the
people trapped near that toddler on the plane were grateful, but the
Daily Mail reports that the family ended up paying more than $2,000 for a
new flight and hotel room for the night."
generally leave it up to flight attendants to judge whether or not a
passenger's attire is inappropriate for wear in the air. As a result,
instances of flyers getting the boot due to unsuitable attire are
relatively common. In the past, we've reported on flight crews banning
passengers for wearing low-cut tops, rocking baggy pants, and sporting
When a man smacked a fellow passenger in the head on a United Airlines flight to Ghana
in 2011, the pilot, like a parent driving a car with feuding kids in
the backseat, turned that plane around. But unlike your average parent,
the pilot had the wherewithal to call up a few fighter jets as backup.
The Air Force was summoned and two jets trailed the plane as it circled
for half an hour, burning off fuel. The aggressive flyer, naturally, was
removed from his flight once the plane touched down.
most unbelievable part of this story: The whole brawl started when one
passenger reclined his seat into the space of the guy behind him. Some
travelers might even argue he deserved the smack.
undoubtedly heard the notorious tale: Alec Baldwin was kicked off a
flight for neglecting to pause his game of Words with Friends when the
flight crew requested that passengers power down their devices. It's
important to note, however, that you likely won't be removed from your
flight if you simply forget that your device is turned on and your phone
rings on the tarmac. It's not that easy to get booted. But Baldwin
seemed determined. He reportedly became aggressive and ignored repeated
requests before the captain decided to leave the 30 Rock star behind.
You don't have to wear a
naughty T-shirt to offend fellow passengers. Simply skip the soap. A few
years ago, a flyer did just that, and ended up on the wrong side of the
boarding gate. According to ABC News, when passengers on an Air Canada
Jazz flight to Montreal complained about a foul-smelling flyer, the
malodorous man had to forfeit his flight before departure. A person on
the flight told ABC News, "People were just mumbling and staring at him.
The guy next to me said, 'It's brutal.'"
Visibly intoxicated passengers
aren't welcome on flights; most airline contracts of carriage contain
clauses that specifically state this. US Airways' contract, for example,
states that the airline can refuse transport to passengers who "appear
to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs."
apparently missed the memo, like country singer John Rich (of Big &
Rich), who was removed from a Southwest flight for being too drunk to
fly, and an intoxicated Bahraini prince, who lost his seat on British
Airways. (It's safe to say that these airlines offer no special
treatment for the rich and famous.)
Even if you appear drunk but
are really sober, your ticket could be in jeopardy. In July, we reported
on a sober woman who was removed from a Southwest flight because a gate
agent thought she was intoxicated. After being booted, the women
obtained a toxicology test from a hospital, and her blood alcohol level
was less than 0.003. Nevertheless, she wasn't permitted to board that
By Caroline Costello