I'm wondering if there's a definitive list or collection of things you should never say on a plane - eg words that if heard, will definitely get you removed, due to a rule or airline policies?

I think lately there are some fairly obvious ones not to say like 'I have Ebola' but is lee-way allowed - for example in NZ a few years ago a friend and I were discussing what the weather forecaster had called a 'weather bomb'. And what if you greet a friend, 'Hi Jack'?

I expect with languages and cultures this will differ, so to avoid being too broad, I want to restrict it to the US.


1 Answer 1


I work in an airline (cabin crew), and I know for a fact that there is no published list for such a thing.

Beside the famous (bomb, explosive, hijack, etc.) words, which is usually said by naive people trying to be funny, the current political situations and international or national threats related words/sentences would raise a flag. Cabin crew are trained to use common sense and they have the "veto right" to stop you from boarding a flight (after permission from the captain) if you have done/said something suspicious.

Anyway, since common sense is used to determine what words might be a sign of a threat it is totally different from one person to another, depending on the staff personality and background.

My advice, do not engage in any sensitive topics and do not try to be funny with the staff and or a fellow passenger using any sensitive words (Political, religious, etc.).

A story worth telling, a few weeks ago one passenger told a cabin crew member about the dream he had a day before his flight; he had a dream about crashing, the female flight attendant thought it is a sign of danger and request that the passenger gets offloaded! And he was offloaded.

Always remember, there is no time to waste in the aviation business, the decisions will be taken quickly even if it was wrong, they can not risk investigating the matter on the spot to avoid any delays which might be very expensive to the airline. So, for financial reasons in addition to the security reasons, you will be offloaded in case you used the wrong words, investigations and/or compensations shall come later.

  • 2
    "do not engage in any topics not related to travel" - passengers are expected to limit their entire conversations to the single topic of traffic for 10 hours or more on long-distance flights? You can't be serious ... Dec 17, 2014 at 13:29
  • 8
    Wait, a single member of airline staff has the power to deny someone their flight? Seriously?! That's insane. What happens if you misheard, or not, but I'm totally innocent regardless. Am I refunded? On the next flight after my interrogation? What if I miss something important, or expensive?
    – OJFord
    Dec 17, 2014 at 17:43
  • 4
    @OllieFord: Even if it's rarely a problem, flying actually forces you to succumb to several subjective decisions by a single person, which are often not disputable at site. You may be rejected at the security check. The captain may reject you boarding or send you off the plane. In case of international flights, you may be rejected by immigration officers. In any case, you may not expect a refund from the airline as they relieve themselfes from any liability in their terms and conditions. Dec 18, 2014 at 0:46
  • 2
    @OllieFord: A captain obviously abusing his right to refuse passengers may of course face internal consequences, but the airline is not liable towards you. The relevant part of the Lufthansa terms & conditions reads as follows, other airlines will have similar texts in their T&Cs: "... we are entitled to refuse to carry you on your journey ..., if ... the carriage of you causes security risks, health or discomfort for other passengers ... . Lufthansa will not be liable to you if we have exercised our right to refuse carriage according to this Article 7.1." Dec 18, 2014 at 14:11
  • 2
    Since you have to accept the airlines terms and conditions when buying a ticket (it is really your job to actually read them), this ought not to come as a surprise. Dec 18, 2014 at 14:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .