Can you be removed from a Delta flight over your Tattoo? You bet you can – and much more!

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exloding rocket tattoo

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The Swedish / English online paper “The Local” has an interesting piece up today about a Norwegian Airlines flight that had a passenger removed due to a tattoo. They said in part that:

“…attention was drawn to the tattoo, which was thought by crew to be the flag of the Islamic State or a verse from the Quran.”

Don’t think this was a one time event. Delta has also kicked people off of their jets for tattoo issues. Adam Pearson, a Food Stylist in LA, who at least at the time was a very frequent Delta flyer, was removed from a flight back in 2010 for his finger tattoos that spelled out “ATOM BOMB”.

We have seen lots of reasons. My fellow blogger Gary from A View From The Wing blogged about an Economist who was removed from a jet for doing: MATH! Yep, math.

There are those who remove themselves from jets like the crazy lady who jumped from a Delta jet just before the boarding door was closed in MSY and ran across the tarmac.

But all of this boils down to the point that there is much that can get you in trouble when traveling. You want to clearly be careful about:

  • What you say (the “b” word i.e. BOMB is never funny and so on)
  • What you wear can matter (logos and how much skin you show)
  • What you post on social media in real time
  • What you do can scare others
  • Refusing to follow crew orders even if unreasonable

With many (but clearly not all) of these there is some gray area that you could, after the fact, argue should not have resulted in you being detained, removed from a flight or worse. But the point of travel is getting from A-B (unless you are on a mileage run that is). If anything you do results in you getting stuck at A that is just not smart. So keep these simple tips in mind.

Security folks NEVER think jokes are funny. Especially so over any word that could result in you being detained and not making your flight.

Think about what you are going to wear when you fly. Seriously. I have seen logos that should have had folks removed from fights. If there is the remotest chance you will offend someone, save it for a non travel day (or better yet toss it out). Lastly skin is for the beach, not for flying. Clear?

Next, what you Tweet, post to Instagram or Facebook can be pulled up in real time and result in you not flying. Even if you delete the tweet it may be too late. Think before you post everyone!

Don’t be weird. OK I know that is covering a wide area but be ready if someone reacts to you with a calm reasonable explanation of why you are doing whatever you are doing. Don’t scale things up and react defensively.

Lastly just follow and do whatever an FA or flight crew tells you. You may not like it and may think whatever is unreasonable but you can, once you are at your destination, complain all you want and make all the fuss you want on social media etc. At that point you are where you wanted to go.

We are traveling in very unique times. The world is a very scary place. Everyone, from security to airline crews to other passengers are all on edge. Let’s make sure we don’t do anything that could make anyone uncomfortable with us – and if you do have a strange tattoo – cover it up when flying please! – René

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  1. Absolutely ridiculous!
    There are airlines that serve very snsitive counties in the Middle east that are known to be uber serious with security. If they perceive you to be a threat they will do everything necesary to be sure there is no explosive coming on board. They might even sit you next to a boring fellow passenger that will be a security agent. BUT, ULTIMATELY, YOU WILL FLY.
    This policy of excluding passengers based on tatoos is ridiculous.

  2. Beyond stupidity and insulting to the intelligence of everyone on the plane. Same goes for the guy with “atom bomb” on his knuckles. Frankly, the people who should be kicked off the plane are the people who would complain about something like that.

  3. Sounds like we now live in a police state. For the price that airlines charge these days, at the very least, we should expect courtesy and respect no matter what we wea, the color of our hair or any other body marks/ tattoos. Of course, we are obligated to follow rules, be polite to airline employees and followvTA directions. But the other issues are nonsense.

  4. Rene, you are having the same “talk” with your readers about airlines that many Black parents have with their children about the police. While most airline employees and cops act reasonably when serving the public. a few need little excuse to act excessively in response to unjustified fears.

    That both have “get out of jail free” cards (claims of safety fears and also in the case of the police a strong presumption of credibility) to play after the fact to justify their actions and escape personal accountability (taxpayers pay millions in police civil lawsuits) does nothing to curb overreactions and abuse.

    Excuse the off-topic comment. The comparison was too striking.

  5. I did not think it was appropriate for the lead FA to come and speak to me with his Diamond stud in his right ear. So after I arrived I wrote Delta (when did this become part of their flight attire) and let them know I was upset when the announcement of no peanuts will be served and after the flight took off the very first thing the C+ FA tried to serve us was Peanuts? Go figure….

  6. Rene, You are having the same “talk” with your readers about airlines that many Black parents have with their children about the police. While most cops and airline employees act reasonably in serving the public, a few need little or no excuse to act excessively in response to unjustified fears.

    That both also have “get out of jail free” cards to play after the fact(safety fears and in the case of the police also a strong presumption of justification) only encourages irresponsible actions.

    Excuse the off-topic comment. The comparison was too striking.

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