These Are the Dumbest Reasons People Have Gotten Kicked Off Planes
Airlines deal with lots of strange behavior from passengers. There’s always somebody who walks around the cabin barefoot, indulges in too many in-flight cocktails, or commits every faux pas in the book.
Most of the time, the flight crew just puts up with people’s bad behavior. But every once in a while, a passenger does something so dumb that the airline actually kicks them off the plane.
Below, check out the most ridiculous and memorable things that travelers have done to get kicked off a plane. (But in at least a few of these cases, you may find that it sounds like the airline — not the passenger — was really at fault.)
1. Singing Whitney Houston songs
An American Airlines flight made an emergency landing when one female passenger refused to stop singing Whitney Houston songs. The plane departed Los Angeles for New York, but the captain diverted it to Kansas City because of the “very unruly passenger.” A local TV station aired footage of the woman singing “I Will Always Love You.” Also in the video? Uniformed officers escorting her off the plane.
Police interviewed the woman after the airline kicked her off the plane. She reportedly calmed down, and then left the Kansas City airport in a taxi.
2. Smelling terrible
When you’ll be in close quarters with other people on a flight, it’s common courtesy to take a shower and wear deodorant. But one French man on an American Airlines flight didn’t seem to know that. He boarded the plane and reportedly smelled so badly that other passengers in his vicinity complained to the flight crew.
The crew asked him to leave before the plane departed Paris for Dallas, and a flight attendant reportedly told him that he needed to take a shower. The passenger blamed a Dior cologne he had sprayed on at the airport for the incident and filed a discrimination lawsuit against American Airlines.
3. Throwing a prosthetic leg
A woman on a Thomson Airlines flight from Tunisia to Edinburgh, Scotland, had a major meltdown that got her thrown off the plane. She reportedly began shouting that she wanted cigarettes or a parachute to jump off the plane. Next, she slapped a child, and threw her prosthetic leg at the flight crew.
The cabin crew restrained the passenger as the pilot diverted the flight to Gatwick in London. Police then escorted the badly behaved passenger off the plane. They also took statements from the woman’s fellow passengers.
4. Chasing a butterfly
A man escorted off an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu gave a pretty bizarre explanation for his behavior. Anil Uskanli said he saw a butterfly emerge from the seat pocket in front of him. He proceeded to chase it through the cabin and into the airplane’s restroom, trying to kill it.
His behavior concerned crew members who also saw him walk to the front of the plane with a blanket wrapped around his head. They suspected he might have explosives, so the captain initiated bomb threat procedures. Uskanli was escorted off the plane and arrested when the flight landed.
Later, Uskanli testified that he must have been ill at the time and hallucinated the entire incident.
5. Getting angry over a Christmas greeting
Not everybody celebrates Christmas. But people who don’t celebrate the holiday usually don’t get upset if a well-meaning customer service employee wishes them a “Merry Christmas.” Travelers at LaGuardia encountered an exception to the rule as one passenger boarded an American Airlines flight bound for Dallas-Fort Worth. This passenger grew upset when he was told “Merry Christmas” first by the gate agent and then by a flight attendant.
The passenger told the flight attendant, “You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas.” He then became verbally aggressive toward the flight crew. The crew eventually asked him to leave the plane — and other travelers on board reportedly cheered.
6. Setting off the smoke alarm in the restroom
Two women on a Sunwing flight from Toronto to Cuba forced the plane to turn around after causing a disturbance on board. The pair reportedly consumed a significant amount of duty-free alcohol in the plane’s restroom. Then, they lit a cigarette, which triggered the smoke alarm. Finally, they got into a physical altercation with one another and made threats against the airplane.
Two Canadian Forces planes escorted the Sunwing jet back to Toronto. There, police arrested the two passengers.
7. Complaining because somebody else got a free upgrade
Everybody probably wishes that they could get a free upgrade. But one passenger got kicked off a JetBlue flight for causing a disturbance when someone else got an upgrade.
The passenger in question had paid for a seat in JetBlue’s “Even More Space” premium seating section. Then, another traveler who was sitting in a less expensive section got moved next to her when the TV at his original, less expensive seat wouldn’t work. She became angry that he didn’t have to pay extra for his upgraded seat.
She started arguing with the flight crew and became “abusive” to her new seat mate. A federal air marshal on the flight intervened, and JetBlue diverted the flight.
8. Preventing another passenger from reclining their seat
Travelers routinely grumble about whether you should recline your seat, but one fight over the issue resulted in a diverted flight. A United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver had to land in Chicago when a man used a gadget called the Knee Defender to prevent the woman in front him from reclining her seat. He refused to remove the device as requested by a flight attendant.
The female passenger threw a cup of water at the male passenger. Shortly thereafter, United decided to divert the plane to Chicago. Ultimately, authorities didn’t arrest either passenger.
9. Wearing an outfit that’s too revealing
Kyla Ebbert made headlines nationwide when Southwest Airlines kicked her off a flight for wearing an outfit that an employee thought was too skimpy. The 23-year-old college student was wearing a scoop-neck top, a sweater, and a mini skirt. A member of the flight crew asked Ebbert to get off the plane. Then on the jetway, he reportedly told Ebbert, “This is a family airline. You’re dressed too provocative to fly on this flight.”
After Ebbert pulled her top up and pulled her skirt down, the crew allowed her back on the plane. She covered up with a blanket throughout the flight, trying to avoid making a scene.
10. Complaining about the in-flight entertainment
A family of four got kicked off a United Airlines flight from Denver to Baltimore for complaints about the in-flight entertainment. A couple complained that the airline’s choice of movie was inappropriate for their children, aged 4 and 8. The couple wanted the flight attendants to turn the PG-13 movie off because it was playing on a drop-down screen right in the children’s line of view.
The couple asked if the captain could do anything. In response, the captain diverted the flight to Chicago. There, police boarded the plane and asked the family to disembark.
11. Crying and refusing to sit upright — as a toddler
Incredibly enough, a 3-year-old child and his dad got kicked off an Alaskan Airlines after the child didn’t want to stay buckled in his seat. Mark Yanchuk and his son Daniel were on the first leg of their journey to the Virgin Islands for a family vacation. Daniel’s mother, grandmother, and younger sibling sat in first class, while Mark and Daniel sat in coach. While the plane remained at the gate, the toddler happily played with an iPad.
But when the crew requested that passengers turn off their devices, the toddler started crying and wouldn’t stay seated upright. The captain returned the plane to the gate and asked Mark and his son to get off the plane. (The rest of the family got off the plane, too.)
12. Tweeting about the gate agent
When we encounter a rude customer service representative, some of us like to complain online. But that instinct got a passenger kicked off a Southwest flight.
Duff Watson, traveling with his two daughters from Denver to Minneapolis, tweeted about a “rude” gate agent who wouldn’t give his children priority boarding. As an A-List member, Watson could board the plane early. But the gate agent wouldn’t let his daughters board early with him.
The family boarded the plane after the rest of the A-List members. Watson was then asked to get off the plane. The gate agent threatened to call the police if he didn’t delete his tweet. So Watson deleted the tweet, and got back on the plane.
13. Saying, ‘Bye bye, plane’
Another very typical toddler behavior that got a family kicked off a flight? Repeating the words “Bye bye, plane” as the aircraft prepared for departure. Kate Penland and her 19-month-old son, Garren, had boarded a Continental ExpressJet flight from Houston to Atlanta. The flight attendant completing the safety demonstration became distracted and distressed by what Garren was saying. So the flight attendant told Penland that she needed to quiet her child.
Penland refused to give her son allergy medication to help him sleep, as the flight attendant suggested. Then, the flight attendant reportedly told the captain that Penland threatened her. So, the plane taxied back to the gate, and mother and child were forced to disembark.
14. Looking sick
Most of the time, you’ll get nothing more than a few scowls if you board a plane while sick. But one 72-year-old woman trying to fly from Akron, Ohio, to Orlando got kicked off a flight simply because another passenger said she looked sick. The woman, who says she’s naturally pale and has a neurological disorder, wasn’t sick. However, the passenger next to her told the crew that she looked tired and drowsy.
Shortly thereafter, the flight crew asked her to get off the plane because they were under the impression that she had a contagious illness. They required her to get off the plane and wait for another flight.
15. Keeping a carry-on bag on the floor
Janice Farrell and her 2-year-old child son, Jarrett, had to disembark an American Eagle flight from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. The reason, according to the airline? Because the mother placed her carry-on bag on the floor in front of her seat instead of stowing it in the overhead bin.
But according to Farrell, the airline didn’t have a good reason to kick them off the plane. She also thinks that airline staff needs better training on how to interact with special needs children like Jarrett, who has autism. Though she explained Jarrett’s autism to the flight crew, they reportedly reprimanded the toddler repeatedly, telling him he needed to stay in his seat. The captain eventually turned the plane around, and Farrell and her son were escorted off the plane.
16. Kicking a neighbor’s seat
JetBlue kicked a family off a flight from Fort Lauderdale to New York. Tamir Raanan and Mandy Ifrah claim that the airline forced them off the plane because their 1-year-old kicked another passenger’s seat. The couple said that they apologized to the other passenger after their daughter, Eden, kicked the passenger’s seat. Ifrah said that she and the passenger “exchanged words” over the incident.
The passenger then moved to a different seat. But subsequently, a flight attendant approached the family and told them they needed to get off the plane. They refused, and the aircraft returned to the gate.
JetBlue reports that Raanan and Ifrah were making threats. The airline maintains that they didn’t ask the couple to disembark because of their child’s actions — but the couple disputes the airline’s account of the incident.