"I Have Ebola" and 8 Other Things You Should Never Say on a Plane


Does this person have an infectious disease? (Photo: Thinkstock)

Things not to yell on a plane: “I have Ebola! You’re all screwed!” then, “I was just kidding!” Oops. On Oct. 8, a man from Philadelphia who was coughing during a U.S. Airways flight reportedly said just that. As you would imagine, things did not go well from there: The flight attendant announced over the loudspeaker that this man was “an idiot.” And when the plane landed, the kidder was promptly removed by men in hazmat suits. “The crew really is the law,” says Christopher Elliott, a travel consumer advocate.

It doesn’t even matter if what the crew said happened, actually happened. “Only the perception of the flight attendant matters,” explains aviation law expert, Gerald C. Sterns. “Whatever the problem, all the attendant needs to say is Passenger X may ‘interfere’ with their duties or otherwise pose a problem to the orderly progress of the flight.”

So in the interest of avoiding hysteria and promoting smoother air travel, here are eight other things you should never say on a plane:

1. “I just came from Liberia.”


Ebola ravaged areas are in the red circle. (Photo: Thinkstock)

We already know you shouldn’t joke about ebola, but don’t make a crack about West Africa either. Whether warranted or not, you may totally freak out the other passengers. According to a recent NBC survey, 58 percent of respondents favored a U.S. travel ban from the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Only 20 percent were against a ban. And while you’re at it, “Don’t joke about any communicable disease,” says George Hobica, president of Airfarewatchdog.com.

Related: Airport Screening for Ebola: 5 Things to Know

2. “None of us thought the pilot was intoxicated.”


Don’t fly with this guy - or joke about it. (Photo: Thinkstock)

You would think that would be a good thing. But according to Lisa Carter-Knight, that was the statement she made to a member of the crew of her JetBlue flight from Philly to Boston before she was kicked off the plane. The real problem was that a different passenger had made a joke that led to the plane being cleared and the pilot being ordered to take a sobriety test. Carter-Knight live tweeted the incident. The pilot passed his test, prompting Carter-Knight’s comment. Then she was told the pilot was “not comfortable” having her on the flight. Moral of the story: “Don’t joke about the pilot being drunk,” says Hobica. Or tweet about anything related to it.

3. “Bomb.”


Da bomb! (Photo: Thinkstock)

You don’t have to even imply you have one — you can’t even say the word. Just ask Michael Doyle. Doyle suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, which causes often uncontrollable verbal tics. Last year, before a JetBlue flight out of Washington, D.C., despite having medical documentation of his condition, Doyle was barred from boarding his flight after saying bomb nearly 100 times. Doyle, who at the time had been watching constant new coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, said he was telling himself, “Don’t say bomb.” But “When you try to suppress Tourette’s, it comes out even worse,” he explained to ABC News. It’s such a touchy subject in a post-9/11 world, “You don’t even want to say, ‘She’s the bomb’ on an airplane,” says Hobica. “Just say ‘She’s the best.’”

4. “I’m going to blow up.”


No kind of explosion is a good explosion. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Even if you just mean you having digestive issues. According to Elliott, there once was an incident where flight attendants had asked a German man to sit down on the plane. He told them he was going to blow up. “The man had to go to the bathroom,” he says. Apparently “going to blow up” is a clunky translation of a German phrase people use when they need to relieve themselves.

5. “I’m not a terrorist.”


Terrorism is terrifying, not funny. (Photo: Thinkstock)

According to Live and Let’s Fly blogger Matthew Klint, after he snapped a photo onboard a United Airlines flight last year, a flight attendant rushed over and asked him to stop. He says he put his camera phone away, then added: “I want you to understand why I was taking pictures. I hope you didn’t think I was a terrorist. Here is my business card [offering her one]. I write about United Airlines on … my blog.” Shortly thereafter, a Global Services rep told Klint, “The captain is not comfortable with you on this flight. You’ll need to gather your things and we’ll find another way to get you to Istanbul.” Booted. So if you can’t say you’re not a terrorist, definitely don’t joke you are one either.

Related: What’s That Stench? 10 Ways to Get Yourself Kicked Off a Plane

6. “Wow, rudest gate agent.”


Tweeting things can also get you kicked off a plane. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Earlier this year, Duff Watson and his kids were removed from a Southwest Airlines flight in Denver after he tweeted this complaint. And definitely don’t insult a member of the flight crew. “Keep it to: ‘I’ll have a Diet Coke with ice, please,” Hobica says about your interactions with the flight crew. “’Please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘no thank you.’ Don’t forget, if you insult flight attendants they have plastic handcuffs.”

7. “F*ck,” “D*mn,” “Sh*t” or “B*tch!”


Keep it to yourself, please. (Photo: Thinkstock)

“Swearing can absolutely get you thrown off a plane,” says Hobica. “Flight attendants don’t really want to hear from you to begin with. Everything is up to the flight crew and you never know if someone is in a bad mood or has no sense of humor.”

8. “Does that door open during flight?” or “We’re going to crash!”


Don’t pretend you want to open this mid-air. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Just for good measure, never saying anything that could make you look mentally disturbed or could be taken the wrong way. “Flying is a pretty serious enterprise,” says Hobica. “It’s really best not joke at all.”

WATCH: Man Escorted Off Flight After Joking About Having Ebola

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