US airlines' cabin incidents: Other passengers who were booted off planes

Passenger Rachel Boerner, and her "emotional support" pig were kicked out of a US Airways flight in December 2014 after the animal was deemed too unruly.
Passenger Rachel Boerner, and her "emotional support" pig were kicked out of a US Airways flight in December 2014 after the animal was deemed too unruly. PHOTO: ROB PHELPS

United Airlines, no stranger to controversy and bad press over its poor service standards, has yet again cooked up another public relations disaster.

This time, the furore was sparked by an overbooked flight that led to a man being forcibly ejected from the plane as he had refused to take the next flight.

United had needed to fly four of its staff members to Louisville to work a "downline connection", and decided to involuntarily "bump" four passengers off Flight 3411 after no volunteers were forthcoming.

Here are some other examples of passengers who were kicked off their flights over various unusual reasons.

1. Much ado over leggings

Social media went haywire with accusations of sexism after two teenage girls wearing leggings were barred from boarding a - no prizes for guessing it right - United Airlines flight from Denver to Minneapolis last month.

 

United eventually clarified that both girls were travelling with a companion on a special "buddy pass", which is governed by a strict dress code that differs from that of paying customers.

"(The two girls) were instructed that they couldn't board until they corrected their outfit. They were fine with it and completely understood," said a United spokesman, who added that all three missed the flight.

2. Speaking Arabic a no-go

Popular Yemeni-American YouTube star Adam Saleh, who has a reputation for orchestrating pranks, called for a boycott of Delta Airlines, after claiming he had been removed from its London-New York flight in December last year for speaking Arabic.

Delta called the incident an unspecified disturbance and later said Mr Saleh and his travelling companion had sought to disturb the cabin with provocative behaviour, but Mr Saleh insisted he had been talking to his mother on the phone in Arabic when fellow passengers complained.

Warning: This video contains strong language

"You guys are racists. I spoke a different language and you say you feel uncomfortable! I can't believe my eyes. We spoke a different language and now there are six white people against us bearded men," he said.

3. Maths = terrorism


Dr Guido Menzio had been working on a differential equation while on the plane. PHOTO: GUIDO MENZIO/FACEBOOK

A maths equation he was writing landed an Ivy League professor in trouble on a Syracuse-bound American Airlines flight at Philadelphia in May last year, all thanks to a jumpy woman passenger who mistook it for Arabic.

Dr Guido Menzio, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, ended up getting flagged as a terrorism suspect and was escorted off the plane to be interviewed by federal agents.


PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM TWITTER

He eventually returned to the plane - the flight was delayed for two hours - and later put up a Facebook post speaking out against racial profiling and xenophobic attitudes.

4. No staring, please

Two hijab-wearing Muslim women were escorted off a JetBlue flight from Boston to Los Angeles in March last year, after a crew member reportedly said she was uncomfortable with the way they were "staring back at her".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXWyoCPAwso

A fellow passenger on the flight, Ms Sharon Kessler, said it was a terrible moment and that both women had just been sitting quietly and watching movies.

In a statement responding to the incident, JetBlue said the flight attendant believed one of the women had been filming the journey.

5. No animals allowed - even for emotional support


Janae Fowler claimed that she was kicked from the flight as her dog Ziggy had looked "mean". PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE 

US Army veteran Janae Fowler never had a problem with bringing her emotional support dog along on flights - until she attempted to board a Spirit Airlines plane from Denver to Houston in April last year.

She claimed she was kicked off the flight as the plane's crew had felt intimidated by Ziggy, a pit bull and chocolate labrador mix. A flight attendant reportedly said that an emotional support animal was not a service animal, which is allowed on board for passengers with disabilities.

Spirit later issued a statement saying that Ms Fowler's dog had been very aggressive and was growling at other passengers.

A similar incident occurred on a US Airways (now defunct) flight from Connecticut to Washington in December 2014, when a passenger and her "emotional support" pig were asked to leave as the animal was unruly.


Connecticut native Rachel Boerner's pig, Hobey, had started defecating on the floor of the plane and squealing uncontrollably. PHOTO: RACHEL BOERNER/FACEBOOK

A fellow passenger described the pot-bellied pig as big, brown and weighing between 30kg and 35kg.

6. Taking up too much space

Bookstore manager Errol Narvaez alleged that he was kicked off a United Airlines flight from Las Vegas to New Jersey in April last year for being overweight.

Mr Narvaez, who weighs about 174kg, said he had never been told he was too big to fly in a single airline seat and called United's heavy-handed treatment of the episode the most "humiliating experience of my life".

He was told to leave after a passenger next to him complained about being uncomfortable, and was made to carry his belongings off in front of all the passengers.

United said it had given Mr Narvaez an option to purchase a second seat on the flight but he declined - a fact which he disputed.

7. Pull up those pants


Green Day frontman Bille Joe Armstrong performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on Jan 31, 2017. PHOTO: AFP 

Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong of punk rock band Green Day was reportedly ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight in September 2011 as his pants had sagged too low.

A flight attendant had repeatedly asked Mr Armstrong to hike his pants higher, but he responded by saying "there were better things to do than worry about that".

Mr Armstrong and his companion were kicked off the Oakland-Burbank flight and allowed onto the next without further incident.

8. Er, why am I being kicked off the plane?

For no apparent reason, according to a weeping Tiana Fough who took an American Airlines flight from Phoenix to Portland in October 2015.

Ms Fough said she was chatting casually with another passenger in front of her as she waited in the aisle to get to her seat when in a bizarre turn of events, a male flight attendant started yelling at her for no apparent reason.

The attendant was adamant she leave, despite the bewildered woman's attempts to ask why and other indignant passengers supporting her.

American Airlines told The Washington Post that they had since apologised to Ms Fough and offered her a US$250 (S$350) voucher as compensation.