If you enjoy gin and tonics, sleep with your eyes open or have a mild allergy to dogs, listen up: You, too, could get kicked off a flight.
In other words, almost anyone could get booted from a plane, and for practically any reason. That’s the takeaway from one of this month’s top stories, which reminded all of us that even if you have a seat assignment, it’s not a sure thing until the wheels are up.
The incident in question, you’ll probably recall, involved Aryeh Ebrahimi and six of his teammates from the University of Central Florida soccer team. Ebrahimi and his friends were tossed off a recent Spirit Airlines flight for the crime of simply being on a flight.
“A flight attendant told us we had to deplane because we didn’t have seats guaranteed from Dallas to Orlando,” he explains. “The flight was overbooked.”
Ebrahimi’s story brought up all kinds of issues about the rules involved in an involuntarily denied boarding situation, which we won’t get into again. But one issue that it just touched on – and that merits further discussion – is how easy it is to get removed from a flight.
Turns out it’s almost too easy.
Remember Mike Murray’s story? This was one of our first “Should I Take The Case?” cases. As he waited with his two nephews and cousin in the first-class lounge to board his United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Washington, he consumed three gin and tonics in two hours.
United wasn’t exactly discouraging it. The drinks in the lounge are included in your membership, and it’s an almost a six-hour flight. Nothing like a G&T or two to make you fall asleep, right?
That’s exactly what happened to Murray, who’d given up 40,000 miles and $1,200 for his upgrade to first class. It wasn’t the only thing he would give up that day.
After Murray fell asleep shortly before takeoff, he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“A flight attendant asked if she could speak to me outside of the plane,” he remembers. “I disembarked the plane and the flight attendant told me that the captain did not want me to fly on the plane as I was ‘intoxicated.’ I asked her what I had done wrong and she stated nothing but that I was intoxicated.”
Murray didn’t protest. He asked what would become of the three other family members flying with him.
“About five minutes later they were told that the captain did not feel comfortable with them flying either and they were then ejected from the plane,” he says.
I didn’t take the case after receiving extensive feedback from readers.
Or how about Gregory Machon, who says he was kicked off his flight because he was sleeping. With his eyes open.
His condition, called nocturnal lagophthalmos, may affect somewhere between 4 and 20 percent of the population, so you would imagine the US Airways crewmembers who made the call to remove him from the flight had seen something like this before. Apparently not.