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 cleavage, and politically opinionated T-shirts. Here, a look at eight cases of passengers who have been escorted off Southwest flights for questionable reasons:
1. Showing too much cleavage
In June, Southwest told a customer wearing a loose cotton dress and an open flannel shirt that her cleavage 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 breasts 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, obscene, or patently offensive."
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 cleavage 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, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice, above the phrase "Meet the Fockers."