Caven blog

When can airlines refuse passengers travel?

With Easter around the corner, Britain is preparing itself for one of the year’s busiest travel weekends. Thousands are expected to go abroad on holiday or to spend the long weekend somewhere else in the country.

Airports have prepared themselves by putting in place additional resources in order to make travelling as smooth as possible. For busy airports this will be their last test before the Olympics.

For most passengers travelling by air, any concerns usually relate to the risk of baggage being lost, delays in security controls or cancelled flights. However, there have been several high-profile incidents in which passengers have been asked to leave planes due to their behaviour.

As we wrote about yesterday, rugby star Gavin Henson was recently banned from flying for the next six months with Flybe after his drunken behaviour disturbed other passengers.  Hence, as a passenger, you need to be aware of what could cause your holiday to be cancelled and what behaviour airlines tend not to appreciate.

High-profile individuals kicked off airplanes

There have been numerous incidents where planes have been delayed due to the behaviour of unruly passengers. Some well-known examples revolve around the behaviour of celebrities. For example:

  • In December last year actor Alec Baldwin caused anger amongst fellow passengers as he refused to turn off his mobile phone when an American Airlines flight was due to depart. He turned aggressive after a crew member repeatedly asked him to stop playing games on his mobile. The aircraft had to return to its gate and Baldwin was asked to leave. He subsequently took a later flight to his final destination
  • Earlier in 2011 the French actor Gerald Depardieu decided to urinate on the floor of an aircraft. Fellow passengers said they were in disbelief as the actor announced that he needed to use the toilet as the flight was about to take-off. Crew members told him that he had to wait. Accounts differ, some say that Depardieu tried to urinate into a plastic bottle and some accidentally came on the floor. Others insist that he simply got up from his seat and opened his pants without any consideration for others. The flight was delayed for two hours as it had to be thoroughly cleaned
  • In the summer of 2010, film director Kevin Smith was outraged by the treatment he received from Southwest Airlines. Smith had booked two seats, due to his size, but tried to catch an earlier flight where there was only one available seat. He was asked to leave the aircraft as the crew did not consider it safe for him to fly. The crew referred to the airline’s ‘customers of size policy’ and did not think that Smith could fit comfortably and safely in one seat. Smith turned to the internet to voice his outrage and the airline later apologised

Can airlines refuse to let you travel?

Although there are some extreme incidents in which airline passengers have been unfairly asked to leave an airplane, in the majority of cases such requests relate to safety concerns or a risk of causing disturbance to other passengers.

Airlines’ conditions of carriage vary but below are some incidents where you could be asked to leave an airplane.

  • Airlines may not allow you to travel if you have a disturbing odour. Some companies make an exception if this is the result of a disability
  • Passengers have been refused travel for being barefoot or not being ‘appropriately’ dressed
  • If you are abusive or violent to the crew or fellow passengers you may be asked to leave the aircraft
  • If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs then the crew might deem you unfit for travel
  • If you have a contagious disease you may be refused entry to the plane. This is particularly relevant around the flu season

Have you ever been kicked off an airplane?

Tell us your experiences!

Related stories:





NewYorkPost - Depardieu



SmarterTravel – How to get kicked off a plane

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