Can the airlines kick you off the plane? If you have social media or keep up with current events, you’ve probably heard a story or two lately on just this topic. The news has been rife with stories of unruly passengers arguing (and in some cases) getting physical with flight attendants. Some passengers were in altercations with other travelers that escalated, and in other cases the dustup was mainly between one passenger and a member (or more) of the flight crew. Most of the time, de-escalation training can help cooler heads prevail. But not always. Sometimes, passengers find themselves getting unceremoniously removed from their flight.

What behavior can get you tossed off your flight?

To be honest, there’s no hard and fast rules for this. In fact, the pilot ultimately has the discretion to remove you for just about any reason if he thinks you’re a safety threat to the flight. But here are some red flags to avoid.

Can being intoxicated make you public enemy #1 on a flight?

People who arrive for their flight loud and obnoxious, holding a drink or stumbling around – will draw unwanted attention from the gate agent. This behavior will almost always immediately put you on a low-key “watch” by staff, who are already making a determination if they’re going to let you on the plane. Yep – they’re silently judging you.

Can the airlines kick you off a flight for just looking drunk? Yes. Smelling like booze, hiccuping, loudly getting settled or making any kind of commotion.

Keep it together. The last thing a flight attendant wants is to have to babysit a drunk or someone under the influence of other controlled substances. There is no easier way to get asked to deplane. And if this happens, the airline is under no obligation to put you on a later flight after you sober up.

Can bare feet get you removed?

A lot of people like to take off their shoes on a flight – and that’s fine – with socks.  Most airlines simply say that “bare feet” can be cause enough for removal. Best to keep those socks on.

Is body odor justification for removing passengers?

Speaking of smelly feet, ANY bad odor emanating from your person can also cause some airlines to ask you to deplane. In Delta’s contract of carriage, they stipulate that any smell that ‘creates an unreasonable risk of offense or annoyance to other passengers” can be reason for removal.

Can you be asked to deplane for not listening to flight attendant instructions?

Can the airlines kick you off a flight for ignoring the flight attendant? Yep. If you refuse to follow a flight attendant’s directions or in any way interfere with their ability to do their job, you will be asked to leave. Just do what the attendant asks and put on your listening ears. These days, a lot of passengers with the “customer is always right” mentality, find themselves unceremoniously removed from their flight.

Can you be asked to leave if you are a passenger of size?

Sadly, yes. If your comfort impinges on another passenger’s ability to sit in their own seat comfortably, the airlines and can do ask people to take another flight. If you cannot comfortably sit with a seatbelt, or if you aren’t physically able to fit within the space of a regular seat, the airline staff may ask you to deplane. Most of the time, if a flight is not full, staff will ask you to purchase another seat, but this is a controversial topic for sure.

Is not wearing a mask reason enough to be kicked off a flight?

Not usually. However, when you appear sick with a contagious disease it’s likely. Now, you might say, how does the airline know if I am sick? This is a very good question. The airlines do generally take a hands off approach these days. However, if a flight attendant sees you vomit before takeoff or seeming extremely queasy, they can ask you to deplane. Similarly, if you’re on a sneezing jag without a face mask, you may get the boot. Public health came to the forefront in the last couple of years. The airlines are deadly serious about flight safety.

If you are seriously ill but can provide a doctor’s note authorizing you to fly, the airline will usually defer to the physician.

Is fighting or shoving someone cause for removal?

In a word – yes, because a flight attendant is basically a safety officer. A lot of travelers consider flight attendants to be glorified waitstaff or cleanup crews. But that could not be farther from the truth.

Here’s how serious the airlines are about safety. The pilot can land the plane mid-route to have you removed if you’re fighting. Sometimes a flight crew will restrain a belligerent passenger as well.

Remember this. The airlines operate from a position of safety first and the golden rule second. If your behavior puts other passengers at risk or in harm’s way? Removal is on the table. If your behavior makes people feel uncomfortable? It might be cause for removal.

What do you think about these rules? Do you think it’s fair that the pilot has so much power? Is it copacetic that your fate onboard is largely up to the pilot and flight crew?

Let us know how you feel in the comments section below.

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