dad died, showing ***, kissing another girl, or wearing a
headscarf, saggy pants, or a T-shirt insulting Pres. Bush. Then you
8 passengers dubiously booted off Southwest flights
By The Week's Editorial Staff | The Week Fri, Jun 15, 2012
The budget airline has kicked off passengers for wearing saggy pants
and crying, developing a reputation as the airline industry's version
of the Soup Nazi
When passengers are kicked off planes, it's usually for aggressive or
offensive behavior, like being drunk or berating the flight attendant.
But Southwest Airlines "has become synonymous with people getting
kicked off flights for ridiculous reasons," says Katie J.M. Baker at
Jezebel, picking on passengers with low-hanging pants, exposed
***, and politically opinionated T-shirts. Here, a look at eight
cases of passengers who have been escorted off Southwest flights for
1. Showing too much ***
In June, Southwest told a customer wearing a loose cotton dress and an
open flannel shirt that her *** was "inappropriate." The
customer, a self-described large-chested woman, was told she would be
kicked off if she didn't button up her shirt. She refused, telling
Jezebel, "I didn't want to let the representative's Big Feelings about
my ***s change the way I intended to board my flight." The airline
offered her an apology and a refund, while maintaining that it has the
right to boot anyone "whose clothing is lewd, ***, or patently
2. Engaging in girl-on-girl kissing
In 2011, Leisha Hailey, an actress who starred in The L Word, was
kicked off a Southwest flight for kissing her girlfriend. She was
reportedly told by the flight attendant that Southwest was a "family
airline" and that "kissing was not okay." Southwest later said
Hailey's kissing was excessive, but Hailey responded, "I didn't
realize a small peck on the lips is regarded as excessive."
3. Being conspicuously Muslim
Irum Abbasi, a headscarf-wearing Muslim, sued Southwest in 2011 after
she was kicked off her flight over suspicions that she was a
terrorist. A flight attendant thought she heard Abbasi say, "It's a
go" on her cellphone, when in fact Abbasi had said, "I've got to go."
Even after she was interviewed by federal security agents, and deemed
not to be a threat, she had wait for the next plane because the crew
was "uncomfortable" having her onboard.
4. Wearing saggy pants
In 2011, Southwest booted Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong
because his pants were sagging too low. The flight attendant
reportedly demanded that he pull his pants up, to which he responded,
"Don't you have better things to do than worry about that?"
"As part of its mission to offend every segment of society," says
Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel, Southwest booted two grown sisters in
2011 after one started to cry over the plight of her father, who had
just had a heart attack. One sister ordered a glass of wine, and the
flight attendant reportedly responded, "I think you've had enough."
Southwest later claimed that the passenger had engaged in a "verbal
altercation," though she testified that it was actually a very soft
and quiet kind of cry.
6. Being overweight
In 2010, Southwest made headlines when it kicked off director Kevin
Smith (of Clerks fame) for being overweight. Smith responded with a
flurry of humorously angry tweets that were relayed across the
internet, which eventually forced Southwest to apologize. "You f**cked
with the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!" Smith said.
7. Wearing a skimpy skirt
Southwest showed its prudish side in 2007, when it booted a college
student for wearing an outfit that was allegedly too skimpy. It wasn't
a *** issue; apparently, the attendants objected to her white
denim mini-skirt. Southwest's reaction was over the top, given that
her outfit had a lot more clothing than what she usually "wears on her
job as a Hooters waitress," says Mike Celizic at Today.
8. Insulting President Bush
In 2005, Southwest kicked off a passenger for wearing a T-shirt that
some of the crew found offensive. It featured the faces of George W.
Bush,*** Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice, above the phrase "Meet the