So pilots can kick anyone they want off a plane?

According to this article at CNN, in at least 5 different cases this week Arab Americans were removed from planes simply because they made other passengers or crew uncomfortable. How can this possibly be legal? What’s to keep African Americans or homosexuals or any group at all from being systematically discriminated against on the basis of their race, creeed or lifestyle?

Not a rant, really - just wonderding why it’s legal to do this but illegal, say, to refuse service in a restaurant to someone because they’re African American. No, I don’t think the argument that ‘well, it’s a plane’ is valid - after all, the passengers who were removed had gone through the same security procedures as everyone else and had made no threatening or otherwise suspicious moves - they were removed simply because they were of the same basic skin color as the alleged terrorists.

Flight crews can refuse to fly. It’s happened a couple of times this week at the airline my husband works for. In both the cases he told me it was flight attendants and not pilots who said they were too afraid to fly because they were frightened of a particular passenger. If the plane doesn’t have enough flight crew willing to go, then either the passenger has to be removed or it can’t take off and has to be cancelled.

To quote from a British package-holiday brochure:- “the captains of our aircraft have complete control of the safety of the passengers on board. If they believe that you could be disruptive , they can refuse to let you fly. If you appear to be drunk , taking drugs , disturbing other passengers , or wearing clothing with offensive decorations, they can refuse to let you board : once in flight they can land at the nearest airport and insist that you leave the aircraft”. In other words the captain has the final say who flies and who does not. I think that this is an extension of maritime law.

As far as I know, the actual legal source for this authority (in the US) is federal airline regulations, specifically FAR 91.3, which give the captain as pilot in command “…final authority, as to the operation of that aircraft…” Which is interpreted as any and all aspects of the operation, included allowing ANY specific passenger to fly.

:: happily drones on, having lost the ability to tell what is a Topic of General Interest loooong ago::

It’s also interpreted to include that in an emergency situation, the pilot can overide any other FAR, which I’ve always thought is interesting [sup]because I’m a freak?[/sup] , if he deems it necessary. Which makes sense, you can’t make emergency decisions by committee.

FAR 91.3
Which may also account for the occasional god-complex.

IANA pilot, but have to read a lot of FARs [sup]yawn[/sup]

True enough, the crew can refuse to fly, but shouldn’t they have a valid reason to do so? It’s fair enough to do so if there is a drunk passenger on board and there is a reasonable chance that they will disrupt the flight. But AFAIK, the color of one’s skin does not in any way determine one’s behavior.

BTW, flawdlogic, a minor yet important nitpick: the first passenger in the article is from Pakistan. Pakistanis are not Arabs, so it’s best to not group them all into the Arab American category.

You could justify it by saying that airlines are private companies and flight crew are representatives of those companies. A private company has the right to refuse service to anyone, for no reason at all, don’t they? This kind of gets messy when an obvious bias such as racism appears, however… can we all say class action lawsuit?

I can picture myself on that plane targeted for having an olive (Italian) complexion and sitting there, refusing to budge, forcing them to pick me up and drag me away as my body goes limp and heavy.

Hmm, I wonder if we’ll see a Civil-Rights-Era lunch-counter sit-in on a plane anytime soon…

Everybody join hands and sing a chorus of “We Shall Overcome.”

The CNN article doesn’t mention this, but did they get a refund?

Somehow I have a hard time imagining receiving one if I were booted from the plane for being intentionally disruptive, but what happens when I get kicked out just because the pilot doesn’t like the color of my skin?

I most certainly think that the airlines have the right to delay anyone they feel might be a security risk for whatever further evaluation they feel is necessary. We can’t have the type of security offered by the much vaunted system of El Al, without making a few sacrifices of what we used to consider our inalienable rights.

If the airlines feel the need to pull off every person carrying an foreign passport or suspected false passport for further questioning, that is not only their right, but also their duty. If many of those persons are carrying Middle Eastern passports, there is a high likelihood that they might look Middle Eastern. That’s just the way it goes–the airlines must do everything they can to protect the lives of their passengers.

Long before any of this happened, I observed a young, very professional looking, blonde woman who had checked in at a kiosk, refused boarding with her three business associates because she could not produce an ID at the gate. She was a security concern, period. They were just doing their job. I very much approved of this action for two very selfish reasons–good security makes me feel safer and I had been number one on the standby list on this previously sold out flight.

The news reports I heard tonight say that they were taken off those planes because they were making the other passengers uncomfortable. They were never considered a security risk.

All passengers removed from flights were placed on other flights that day.

How is this anything like what’s described in the OP? We’re talking about people who’ve shown their ID, passed security clearance, taken their seats and are then yanked off the plane just because someone didn’t like the way they looked. Shameful. Even if they were placed on other flights.

While these accounts are certainly sad and troubling, um, we’re not building internment camps. Ok, a handfull of Arab-Americans were inconvenienced. Over six thousand innocent Americans of every descent were brutally murdered by, like it or not, people of Arab origin. And had the situation been reversed, Americans in the Middle East would be stoned to death.

So pardon us if we can’t stop our political correctness from waivering a tad…

Regardless of what is “right” - if the pilot and crew are afraid, irrationally or otherwise, what would you have them do? Fly the plane in an uneasy state of mind, cancel the flight, or remove the passenger? Regardless of whether it is discriminatory or not, I don’t want a flight crew that is uneasy flying the plane that I am on. They should either cancel it, get a new crew (hard to do nowadays), or remove the suspicious passenger. Which is the right choice, among these options - the one that causes the least disruption?

If the World was perfect, this wouldn’t be an issue.

AFAIK denying someone their civil rights on account solely of their race or ethnicity is against the law and these guys probably have a good case against the airlines.

Other passengers dont like to travel with people who look Arab and so the pilot decides to please the majority by ejecting the Arab looking guys? And that is acceptable? I don’t think so. Would it be the same if instead of Arab they were black?

I believe this would be covered by Public Accomodations Laws. As a private business, I don’t believe airlines are any more entitled to refuse service without cause than lunch counters are. The authority for the pilots to remove passengers comes from federal regulations concerning air travel.

I repeat - what would you have them do? And “not be afraid” is not an acceptable answer, as we are already assuming that they are afraid - irrationally or otherwise.

I’d have them go to GD for that part of the discussion. :slight_smile:

Anthracite, it is the people who are irrationally afraid the ones who should stay off the airplane and not force others off. If I have a fear of Blacks, Arabs, Gays or whatever, I am not entitled to have them removed from an airplane. I have the right to stay off the airplane though. If two hundred persons have a fear of someone on the only account that he is Arab, they can all get off the airplane but the other person has a right to fly. He cannot and should not be denied this right on account of race or ethnicity.

>>The news reports I heard tonight say that they were taken off those planes because they were making the other passengers uncomfortable. They were never considered a security risk.

Sounds to me like those fuckwad passengers should have been the ones escorted off the fucking plane. This kind of behavior is abominable, even in desperate times like these. Our Founding Fathers are spinning like windmills in their graves.

>>All passengers removed from flights were placed on other flights that day.

The news report I saw said that 3 of the guys had to book flights on different airlines and had no problems for the rest of their journey. God Bless AmeriKKKa.

Lockfist, in the future please limit your rants to the BBQ Pit.

We were supposed to be discussing whether the practice is legal, not whether it should be. But I can see it’s hopeless, so off to GD.

moderator GQ