Want a hot insider tip for not getting kicked off a flight? The main thing is this: Act like a decent human being. Mind your manners. Follow the golden rule. Those are all great starts. Sound simple? Yes, it should. But you might be surprised at how kindness can actually correspond to a dollar value when it comes to travel perks.
OK, sure, so being nice and acting right might feel like second nature to many of us travelers — but some people get thrown off a flight and claim to have no idea why it happened. Turns out, the crew may have a very real, specific, and justifiable reason for kicking you off.
To avoid such a situation, “Pretend you’re in a house of worship rather than a pub during a football game,” says flight attendant Heather Poole, author of Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet.
Too difficult? How about this: “Try pretending you’re traveling with your mother."
For more specifics, consider the following things — both in and out of your control — that can get you kicked off your flight or forbidden from boarding at all:
1. Lateness (even if you're technically early)
Let's start with things that can get you kicked off before you're even on. “The easiest way to get 'thrown off' a flight is to show up late,” says Poole. “By late I mean 10 to 15 minutes before departure. It states on your boarding pass that seats will be given away at this time, and yet everyone seems shocked when they get to the gate half a second before departure and learn they can't get on. This is nothing new,” says Poole. So don't act shocked if it happens.
2. Administrative reasons
Sometimes, it’s not your own fault. It could be a situation in which the flight was over booked, or, your seat was already assigned. “A seat dup (if they sold a seat twice and the plane is full),” means you’re off, says James Thompson, a flight attendant for a major commercial airline.
When passengers get kicked off "for no reason" it's usually a pretty big reason, only not the one they may think: “What usually happens is a situation snowballs and it's the passengers reaction to the what the crew tells them that gets them kicked off,” says Poole. For instance: “You have a problem and stop a flight attendant to share it with them. The flight attendant says something you don't agree with, or don't understand, and instead of staying calm you scream, 'F--- you!'” That’s that will get you kicked off — not whatever it was that started the conversation. Stay calm. Be nice. And stay on the plane.
4. Sexual conduct
Whether you are watching porn on your laptop or getting frisky in the lavatory, neither is allowed. “If you have hot sex in your seat or the lavatory, feel up a flight attendant, or do any crazy lewd sex acts while in your seat — say, exposing yourself to your seat mate — that will all get you thrown off,” says Thompson.
5. Threatening anyone
Duh. Don't do it. Poole says: “Threaten to punch someone's lights out after they tell you they'll have to check your bag and you will get thrown off."
6. Referencing terrorism
It should go without saying, but don’t use words like “fire” or “bomb” or “hijack” for any reason. No one's taking any chances, and "I was joking" will get you nowhere.
“An airline isn't allowed to knowingly board an intoxicated passenger,” says Poole. “Airlines get fined for doing so." And, yes, your flight attendant knows.
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