For years, people have been kicked off flights for absurd reasons. Typically, airlines empathize with the customer and apologize, but sometimes they take the side of their employees. It’s understandable that a passenger gets kicked off a plane for belligerent intoxication or for getting physical with the aircraft crew or even other passengers, but this isn’t always the case.
All too often (most notably in recent airline history) passengers have been asked to disembark for unjustified reasons — like demonstrating a religious preference, having a food allergy, participating in a conversation in another language — or simply because the airline made the mistake of overbooking a flight. Although United Airlines seemed to have a streak of mishaps at one point, other flight attendants for airlines from Spirit to JetBlue have also wound up in these ludicrous predicaments with passengers. Here are a few incidents over the past year in which a passenger has been kicked off of a flight.
In early May a family of four was kicked off a flight headed to Las Vegas from New York for storing a birthday cake in an overhead bin. Flight attendants asked the family to move the cake from one overhead bin to another, and then to the floor in front of them. The passengers complied but one flight attendant still had issue with the cake's placement. Officers were brought in and the entire flight was forced to disembark — over a birthday cake — and the family had to make other flight arrangements.
In early April 2017 a United Airlines flight was overbooked, and after no one volunteered to get off the plane, people were asked to leave. One man refused and was dragged off the flight by security for not complying. The incident was caught on video and has sparked controversy over what airlines should and shouldn’t be allowed to do to a passenger. The CEO of United made a statement claiming the “customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers.”
Last April a passenger was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for speaking Arabic on the phone because another passenger “perceived [it] to be threatening.” The passenger was a student at the University of California, Berkeley, who was on the phone with family discussing an event he had attended when a woman onboard complained to a flight attendant. The man was subsequently escorted off the plane.
A family flying from Utah to the Bay Area was apparently kicked off an Allegiant Air flight due to their child’s peanut allergy. After the passenger told the flight attendant about the allergy, the flight attendant said they had to get off the airplane because “a medical professional told staff it wasn’t safe for them to go on the flight.”
A Muslim woman was asked to exit her Southwest Airlines flight after switching seats during a layover flight for religious reasons. She was sitting between two men and felt uncomfortable, so she asked another passenger to switch seats with her and the person agreed, but she was then asked to leave the plane. According to reports, the airline said the staff was following procedure.
On a flight earlier this year from New Orleans to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a woman claims that Spirit Airlines kicked her off a flight for her cleavage, even after she tried covering up. A passenger sitting next to the woman on the flight said the flight attendants were purposely embarrassing her to the point that she began to cry. The woman, her companion, and the passenger consoling her were all kicked off the flight. The airline claims the issue was a matter of safety.