5 Things That Could Get You Thrown Off a Plane


Working as a flight attendant can be a wild time, especially when dealing with people that don’t know how to act on commercial flights. Just when you think you have seen it all, some passenger goes and does something stupid that earns them a one-way ticket off the aircraft and right back up the jet bridge.

In case you are curious, here are the top five ban-worthy behaviors I witnessed as a flight attendant that could get you thrown off a plane and possibly permanently banned from the airline. 

Buckle up, this one is a bumpy ride!

#5 Not meeting the airline’s personal hygiene requirements

Did you know you can be kicked off a flight for smelling bad? Though this is normally the least common reason for people to get thrown off a plane, I think it might also be the most surprising.

Airlines can dictate certain hygiene requirements that passengers are required to meet to be granted permission to fly. These requirements are stated in the airline’s “Conditions of Carriage” which is a contract you agree to when you choose to fly with a particular airline.

Most airlines have a few hygiene-related requirements.

American Airlines’ Condition of Carriage, for example, states that all passengers must “Be respectful that your odor isn’t offensive (unless it’s caused by a disability or illness).”

It’s unfortunate and embarrassing for everyone involved when this happens. But it does happen. I once had to remove a woman from a flight I was working because she smelled so strongly of cat piss, that the passengers who were seated around her began to feel nauseous.

At the other extreme end of the smell-spectrum, you can be removed for wearing strong or offensive perfumes. 

Other hygiene-related requirements that could get you thrown off a flight include:

  • Refusal to wear a mask. Yes, even in a post-covid world you could still be required to wear a mask if the crew suspects you might be contagious.
  • Not wearing shoes. It’s just gross anyway. Wear shoes for your own sake. Especially when going to the lavatory!
  • Dressing inappropriately. A guy on one of my flights was thrown off for not wearing underwear under his rather short basketball shorts, which became obvious when he man-spread in his seat opposite my friend’s jump seat and his… um… business… became public.

The moral of the story is… Shower, dress completely, and try not to travel while sick.

#4 Having a few too many drinks at the airport bar

We all know that there are no rules in airports. While having a strong cocktail at 9 am might be frowned upon in the real world, it’s totally acceptable in an airport terminal!

People love to have a few drinks while waiting to catch their plane but getting sloshed before boarding is a good way to end up getting banned from your flight.

Gate agents are trained to spot intoxicated passengers and if they suspect you are drunk, they will not allow you to board the flight. If you do make it onto the plane somehow and a flight attendant notices you are drunk, they can also have you removed. In fact, in the US, we are even legally required to have you removed.

Generally, if you are kicked off a flight because you are drunk you will be allowed to rebook your flight once you’ve sobered up. But if you start drama on a plane while intoxicated it can definitely get you permanently banned from that airline.

The moral of the story is… Don’t get drunk and fly.

Bringing your own boos on board is also illegal.

If you get caught drinking something you brought onboard, you could theoretically get banned from flying. Typically flight attendants will simply ask you to hand it over and move on because we don’t really want to make your life miserable. So just don’t argue with us if you find yourself in this situation.

#3 Smoking in the lavatory

No matter how often we say it, people still decide to smoke in the lavatory.

I once threw open a lavatory door when the smoke alarm went off to find a granny sitting on the closed toilet smoking a cigarette even though we were already at our destination and just waiting for people to deplane. Like seriously? She couldn’t wait 20 more minutes!

Smoking on an airplane is a federal crime. It can not only get you kicked off a plane and banned from the airline, which is bad enough already, if it gets reported you can be fined up to $20,000!

The moral of the story is… Just wait until you get out of the airport to light up a smoke, or it may be the most expensive cigarette of your life.

#2 Starting drama with another passenger

We’ve all seen the videos of passengers arguing with one another. They’re all over the internet these days. I’ve settled fights over all sorts of things.

Once I had to break up a fight between two men in first class because they disagreed over who should get off the plane first. Ironically, their fight delayed deplaning for everyone because they threw punches and accidentally knocked me to the floor. Both were detained by police for a while and permanently banned from flying with our airline.

Airplanes are tight, enclosed spaces where strangers are forced to give up their personal space and just exist with one another. It’s really not surprising that this sometimes leads to interpersonal disagreements onboard. But no matter how unfair it is for the person to hog your armrest; I promise you it is not worth getting into a fight and risk your rights to fly at all.

The moral of this story is… Just play nice, flights don’t last forever.

#1 Disrespecting the Crew

Disrespecting crew members is the most common reason passengers are removed from flights. Especially, if that disrespect involved the pilots in any way.

Disrespect can take many forms, from not complying with crew instructions, to shouting at us, touching us inappropriately, or threatening violence. All of these things can get you kicked off a plane and, depending on the severity, can also result in federal prosecution.

There is probably not a single flight attendant in the world who hasn’t been disrespected by a passenger at some point in their career. Most of the time, the disrespect we encounter is “harmless” but still personally hurtful.

The only time a passenger’s disrespect towards me resulted in his removal from the flight was when a guy decided to stand up for a friend of his who had been caught vaping weed in the bathroom during boarding. Instead of peacefully getting off the plane with his friend who was clearly stoned, the guy barricaded himself in the entry door and screamed at me that he hoped I would “die in a plane crash.” The pilot overheard that, and immediately called the police. The man has since been put on the No-Fly List for threatening a crew member’s life.

The moral of this story is… Be nice and don’t be an idiot.

Final Thoughts

No one wants to get kicked off a flight or banned from an airline and your flight attendants really don’t want to throw you off the aircraft either.

All we want is to have a peaceful flight with respectful passengers. 

I hope this list of five things that could get you kicked off a plane was entertaining. Schadenfreude anyone? But also, I hope to shed some light on the flight attendants’ side of the story to all those videos of people getting yanked off airplanes by airline security.

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