Air travel isn’t easy. What we wear, how and what we pack, how we behave in the airport and during our flights matter. If we’re not careful, airport security, ticket agents, gate agents and flight crew can deny us boarding our flight or kick us off it, sometimes in police custody, under arrest.
Here are a dozen ways you can miss or get kicked off your flight.
While planning your journey:
Passport expiration — If you’re traveling internationally, check your passport’s expiration date or your trip could end before it starts. Countries have different rules about passport expiration dates. Turkey, for example, requires your passport to be valid for at least six months after you enter their country. U.S. citizens can check their destination country’s passport requirements at the U.S. Department of State’s Country Information page. If your passport doesn’t meet your destination’s requirements, you won’t be permitted to board your flight.
Visas — Some countries don’t require visas to visit them, some require you to obtain a visa prior to entering the country, and others allow you to obtain a visa when you arrive. Know the visa requirements for your destination and follow them or you’ll be denied entry there and may be denied boarding your flight.
Before you leave for the airport:
3–2–1 Liquids — Not following the 3–2–1 liquids rules in your carry-on is a sore point for some airport security personnel. Not following the liquids rules can lead to retaliatory secondary screening, which is time consuming. If you’re running late it could cause you to miss your flight.
Food — The problem with a lot of food is that it falls within the 3–2–1 liquids rules. If you can spread it, pour it, or if it oozes, you need to leave it at home, pack it in your checked luggage, or fit it in your liquids baggie. Otherwise, it could get you into time consuming secondary screening.
Mace and pepper spray — Self defense liquid containers aren’t permitted in carry-on bags, no matter how small they are. It’s possible that some airlines won’t allow you to have any self defense liquid containers in your checked luggage.
Clothing — While you don’t have to dress as if you’re going to a black-tie affair, you’ve got to watch what you wear when flying. Airlines have dress codes. Clothing with foul language, racist or political cartoons, political statements or commentary or that reveals too much of your body can cause you to be denied boarding unless you change your clothes or cover up. The airline will generally not wait for you to change. You may miss your flight. It may be fun or sexy to wear those clothes, but if you want to fly, wear something acceptable.
Intoxication — Show up to the gate visibly drunk and you’ll likely be refused boarding your flight.
Body odor — Believe it or not, the airlines have a requirement that “your odor isn’t offensive.” If you don’t use enough deodorant you’re likely to be okay, but if you’ve rushed to the airport directly from a week’s camping trip, without a shower, you’ll likely not be able to board your flight, or be ordered to leave your plane by the flight crew. I’ve seen it happen several times.
At the airport and in the plane:
Late to the gate — Once the gate is closed — for most airlines about ten minutes prior to the flight — even though you’ve checked in and your checked luggage is already on your flight, you’ll be denied boarding.
Seat belt — When the flight crew tells you to fasten your seat belt, do it. If you ignore their order repeatedly, you may find that your flight will return to the gate and you’ll be ordered off it and, at the least, have to buy a ticket for another flight. I’ve seen this happen.
Revenge — When someone rockets their seatback into you and your laptop, or constantly kicks or knees the back of your seat, revenge can be sweet, but getting physical may cause your plane to be turned around and landed at the nearest airport, resulting in your arrest when you land. Try requesting the other passenger to be more respectful of you or get help from the flight crew. Don’t take matters into your own hands.
Talking on your cellphone when told to stop — I’ve seen it more than once after flight attendants had to tell a passenger several times to stop talking on their cell phone or taking calls after the plane left the gate for take-off. The plane returned to the gate and the passengers were kicked off.
Handling each of the above potential problems well is easily accomplished. While it doesn’t take much to miss or get kicked off your flight, avoiding these problems doesn’t take much effort and it may save your journey before it even starts.
(Image: American Airlines A319 landing at Philadelphia International Airport. Copyright © 2018 NSL Photography. All Rights Reserved.)
After many years working in corporate America as a chemical engineer, executive and eventually CFO of a multinational manufacturer, Ned founded a tech consulting company and later restarted NSL Photography, his photography business. As a well known corporate, travel and wildlife photographer, Ned travels the world writing about travel and photography, as well as running photography workshops, seminars and photowalks. Visit Ned’s Photography Blog and Galleries.