Can my physical appearance affect the airport security officers decisions? How is that possible? I mean what would they put in their reports? that I was wearing a shirt saying "I <3 Bin Laden" ?

I <3 Bin Laden

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    I have heard many cases of people getting extra searching. I have heard occasional cases of people having items confiscated. The rare cases where someone is denied boarding entirely and told to leave the airport tend to make the newspapers. They generally happen because someone is unwilling to part with whatever they want to confiscate. Your question (and subsequent commenting) strikes me as argumentative and troublemaking. I had already voted to close but now encourage others to do the same. Nov 16, 2015 at 12:51
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    Ahh! I thought i recognized questions of this type. inactive, name changed from User?
    – d0nut
    Nov 16, 2015 at 15:01

3 Answers 3


There are several reported instances of people not being allowed to board (or being kicked off) planes because of their T-shirt. These include:

Though I had remembered a couple of these examples, more were not difficult to find, so T-shirts are clearly serious business.

But in answer to your question, there is certainly an increased chance of you being denied boarding if you wear that T-shirt, especially if you are also carrying a gold bar and a bazooka. Perhaps stick with the bulletproof vest.

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    What if he makes his robot co-passenger wear the t-shirt?
    – Patrice
    Nov 16, 2015 at 17:43
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    @Patrice awesome idea! The robot would get arrested NOT me, yet I would still be able to express my love to whomever on mt T-shirt (certainly not Bin Laden)
    – Ulkoma
    Nov 16, 2015 at 17:50

Your friend would not be denied on the basis you have given. The point of the search is to examine you and your belonging for dangerous articles, not to check if you have a Koran or if you have a poor sense of fashion. I will not speculate further on the reason for his denial to the secured part of the airport, but a messy beard and a book is not the reason.

In principle if you were wearing a provocative t-shirt, you could be selected for a more detailed examination (which would include removal of outer clothing and a hand search of your effects in private). If it was particularly provocative, the police may arrest you on the basis you are committing a breach of the peace.

  • In most jurisdictions wearing a provocative T-Shirt is not a breach of the peace (I don't believe it is in the UK, for instance, and I would be surprised if it was in the US). However, airlines do reserve the right to deny boarding if clothing is 'offensive', which they appear to do regularly and with a wide interpretation - see my answer.
    – abligh
    Nov 16, 2015 at 16:05
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    @abligh This question was originally about Heathrow, but someone has edited it to be quite different to the original question. It certainly can be breach in Scots law, will have to check for English law.
    – Calchas
    Nov 16, 2015 at 16:34
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    I stand corrected. Apparently you can in the UK (OK, Scotland not England) be arrested for wearing a sufficiently offensive T-shirt for breach of the peace, and have the conviction upheld not only by the High Court but also the ECHR: tinyurl.com/pjwgfqk
    – abligh
    Nov 16, 2015 at 16:44

You ask one main question and three sub-questions:

Can my physical appearance affect the airport security officers decisions?


How is that possible?

Screeners are human and react emotionally. A provocative appearance is more likely to, well, provoke a response. This will be more true in places like the U.S. where airport security screeners are less well trained or disciplined.

I mean what would they put in their reports?

"Passenger looked suspicious."

that I was wearing a shirt saying "I <3 Bin Laden" ?

Yes, possibly.

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