9 surprising reasons for being thrown off a flight

Being smelly, having bare feet or wearing offensive clothes are just some of the bizarre things that could see you ordered off a plane.

Press Association
Last updated: 15 June 2018 - 7.40am

Being late or forgetting your passport aren’t the only things that could stop you from boarding that plane and jetting off on holiday or business – in fact, these things are just the tip of the iceberg.

Did you know that having body odour, being very overweight, or even having bare feet are among the less obvious things that could keep people grounded too?

[Read more: Aeroplane travel: Which is the safest seat on a flight and why?]

Even feeling unwell can scupper your chances of take-off… It’s just been revealed that super-fit grandfather Ron Linton, 73, was ordered off a plane to Crete due to a minor stomach upset, even though he was feeling better and Manchester Airport paramedics had given him the all-clear to fly. Linton then had to fork out for another flight, though he has since been compensated by Thomas Cook.

The airline was acting within its rights to stop him from flying, as they can refuse to transport people demonstrating conditions that may worsen or have ‘grave consequences’ during the flight. The Captain makes the decision based on whether the passenger “is fit to travel, needs medical attention or presents a danger to other passengers and crew or to the safety of the aircraft.”

The airline doesn’t have to refund the ejected passenger, but airlines have varying policies on this. For more information, contact the Civil Aviation Authority. (And remember, it’s always wise to travel with the appropriate travel insurance.)

Being ill is just one of many reasons airlines could potentially throw passengers off planes. Here are some of the other surprising air travel no-nos:


1. Having bad body odour

Several airlines have rules that if a person is really smelly, they can be ejected from the plane. So make sure you’re generous with the deodorant before you travel!

2. Being very overweight
Safety rules mean passengers have to fasten their seatbelts before take-off and landing, but if a passenger is obese and the seatbelt doesn’t fit, this could be a problem – in addition to the fact their size may impact on the space passengers seated next to them have. To cover this, some airlines state passengers must be able to fit in the seatbelt restraint to be allowed to fly.

3. Carrying ashes
While airlines say you can take human or animal ashes on a flight, there may be certain rules associated with ashes transportation. Some airlines say you need a copy of the death and cremation certificates, and the ashes must be securely packed in an appropriate container to avoid any spillages.

4. Dress code
Women in hen party groups have been stopped from boarding flights due to wearing offensive matching T-shirts, as rules state passengers shouldn’t wear clothes that might be offensive to others.

5. Bad behaviour
It’s also down to the crew’s discretion whether a traveller should be removed “when the passenger’s conduct creates an unreasonable risk of offence or annoyance to other passengers”.

Woman sitting at airplane and looking to mobile phone.
Sure you’re ready for takeoff? (Thinkstock/PA)

6. Bare feet
Many airlines won’t allow passengers to fly if they haven’t got shoes on. While this may sound trite, there is a good reason, as in an emergency shoes may be necessary for safe disembarkation. A second reason is that feet may be smelly!

7. Bringing your harp on board
Airlines have varying lists of what’s not allowed on board, and this often includes large musical instruments like harps, as well as items such as pole vaults and snowboards. But harpists, pole vaulters and snowboarders can still fly with their instruments and equipment, they just need to put it in the aircraft hold.

[Read more: 16 ways to guarantee the best and most comfortable flight of your life]

8. Carrying critters
While some animals, such as dogs, are allowed to travel in plane cabins in certain circumstances, a number of creatures are absolutely not allowed in the cabin of most planes, including (you’ll be relieved to know) spiders, snakes and ferrets. So if you try to smuggle your pet spider on board, you’ll both be thrown off.

9. Yelling “bomb!”
Despite having the correct paperwork explaining he had Tourette Syndrome, which causes tics and uncontrolled speech, Michael Doyle was thrown off a US plane by the pilot in 2013 after saying “bomb” as many as 100 times during the check-in process.

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