I've never been kicked off of a plane, thankfully, but I've always wondered what happened when someone did get booted for some "unruly" behavior. Chances are, we all think it's something out of Meet the Parents, where the passenger gets interrogated by authorities and gets some sort of potential ban for being a jackass—depending on the severity of their offense while on the aircraft.
The New York Times may have just revealed the answer, as they sat down with the founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, George Hobica, who discussed what really happens to those booted passengers, and how to deal with the situation.
NYT: What Are The Circumstances In Which Fliers Can Be Evicted?
Hobica: They can be removed for not following crew instructions. That’s pretty broad. Being disruptive. Being intoxicated, or certainly improperly touching other passengers.
NYT: What Recourse Do Fliers Have If They Are Ejected?
Hobica: You can certainly file a complaint with the Department of Transportation... You could try to take it to small claims court if you can prove you suffered a small financial loss. In most cases people take it on the chin and go on social media. You can certainly go to social media and shame the airline and hurt their reputation and ask for some form of compensation like frequent flier miles.
NYT: Do Ousted Passengers Have To Buy A New Ticket To Fly Or Is The Carrier Obligated To Transport Them?
Hobica: It depends on what you did. In some cases, you will be arrested. If you did something egregious, they will not feel an obligation. But if it’s something like a crying baby or a seatbelt, typically they’ll put you on the next available flight. They try to defuse the situation... Since 9/11, they’ve become less tolerant of any misbehavior. They are the executioners. They have complete authority.
You can read more of the interview with George Hobica over at the New York Times' website, but here's a word to the wise—avoid downing a little too much at your terminal's bar to increase the chance of this happening to you.