This Is What Happens When You Get Kicked Off of an Airplane

Airline Eviction Rules
Photo: Jerry Driendl / Getty Images

When it comes to airplane etiquette, there's a lot to know—including how not to get kicked off of an airplane. You may think it's common sense, but it actually happens way more often than you'd think. The parameters for removing someone from a flight are vague: they just must be disobeying flight crew instructions.

The New York Times recently chatted with George Hobica, the founder of travel planning website Airfare Watchdog, on what it takes to actually be kicked off of a flight. (Spoiler: Just be on your best behavior, already). Ahead, we pulled out what really happens when you get kicked off your flight:

Cause a Scene

As mentioned above, it doesn't take a whole lot to fall into this category considering the grounds for removing a passenger is defined as "disobeying crew instructions." Now, before we instill any sense of panic into flyers' minds, let's remember that flight attendants are very nice, understanding people (most of the time). That being said, there have been instances of passengers being removed for things like crying babies, belting Dolly Parton's hit "I Will Always Love You" (seriously), and inter-passenger misunderstandings (think: choking someone over a reclined seat).

You've Been Warned

Unless you're truly a danger to the rest of the flight, you're (hopefully) going to get a warning or two. If you decide to ignore the crew after a few talking-tos, you probably deserve that humiliating escort off the plane. In fact, if you're sitting near someone causing a scene, there may be some good fortune in it for you. Hobica shares one instance in which being a thoughtful flyer got a passenger a no-strings-attached upgrade: "A person, I believe it was a seating arrangement question, wanted to sit next to someone and another passenger offered to defuse the situation and he ended up sitting next to me in business class. The flight attendant came by and said, 'Thank you so much for helping us out.' If you defuse a situation you will be treated better than a passenger who tries to intervene.

So You Missed Your Flight: Now What?

After it's been decided that you're a true disruption to the flight—and the flight crew does have total jurisdiction in making that decision—you can kiss your ticket goodbye. According to Hobica, it depends on the violation. Of course, you will be arrested for any illegal actions you may have taken. In other situations—such as a crying child—you'll be put on the next flight out. Many times, if you're ousted as an inconvenience to other flyers, you won't have to buy a new ticket. If you end up being arrested for your airplane shenanigans, well, that's an entirely different story—one that doesn't include a second boarding pass.

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.

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