Delta: Maskless Pilot Boots Passenger For “Inappropriate” Hat

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Generally, I stray away from posting articles with “my synopsis” of people and/or travel-related incidents. 99.9% of the time, I was not there and do not know the details and often it’s the small details that change your perspective, so I focus on what I know – my experiences and travel with points and miles. However, I’m breaking my own rule because I think this is worth a discussion.


Appropriate attire for a plane has long been a hot-topic discussion. Just google “airline kicks passenger off plane for clothes” and I can guarantee you’ll see an article discussing an incident that has happened within the last two weeks.

Well, a video of a recent incident has been circulating on social media where a woman was apparently asked to remove her hat that included the ‘F-word’ on it.

It’s worth noting that the video doesn’t show what happened prior to the pilot speaking to her but according to what the pilot says in the video, a flight attendant asked the passenger to remove the hat, she did not comply, and now the pilot was requesting that she remove the hat or be removed from the flight.


Although this post is located on the Black Lives Matter DC twitter page, we’re going to remove race from the discussion (though it doesn’t work like that in real life) and focus on the discussion between the pilot and passenger. Here’s an excerpt:

Passenger: “Yeah I heard you, sir.”
Pilot: “No, no, do you understand it?”
Passenger: “I said I heard you.”
Pilot: “Do you understand it?

Passenger: Ya’ll hear this!?
Pilot: Do you understand what the two options are?
Passenger: Don’t point your finger at me.

Pilot: ..Tell me now, so which is it?”
Passenger: “Tell you what? The hat is off. There’s nothing to tell you, the hat is in my lap.”
Pilot: “For the entire flight?”
Passenger: “The hat is in my lap.”
Pilot: “For the entire flight? It will not be worn the entire flight?”
Passenger: “The hat is in my lap.”
Pilot: “Tell me it’s off for the entire flight.”
Passenger: “The hat is in my lap.”
Pilot: “One thousand one…one thousand two…I’ve got six kids, I raised 10 kids. I know better.”
Passenger: “I’m not a child sir…the hat is in my lap.”

As you can see, there is a lot of back and forth, but I’m not sure reading the words completely convey the environment, so take ~2 minutes and watch the video…


Before we even discuss the the encounter, the first thing I noticed in this video was the pilot isn’t wearing a mask. How is that even possible!?

I understand we have people that prefer to wear two masks simultaneously and we have those that don’t believe we should wear masks at all. Regardless to what you believe, all airlines now require you to wear a mask. But does this not apply to pilots? This could be a dangerous situation if he had COVID. Not only is he within a few feet of several people, he could be infecting an entire plane full of people.

Second, I understand that being a flight attendant (or pilot) is challenging. Not only do you have a job to complete but you’re also working in customer service and airline passengers are the most challenging demographic there is bar none. As a former airline employee, I get it.

But…is it me or is the pilots tone overly demeaning and condescending? Did he really just say “One thousand one…one thousand two…?” Was he speaking to a paying customer or doing this woman a favor by allowing her to fly on the airline?

Regardless to the interpretation of tones, if we focus on the “issue” at hand – the hat – I feel like this topic will always be a losing hand for the airline (particularly in the age where everyone has a camera phone and is recording).

It’s worth noting that Delta’s contract of carriage reserves the right to remove a passenger when their attire “creates an unreasonable risk of offense or annoyance to other passengers,” but I feel this statement is vague. And when you leave it to a single employee (e.g. the gate agent, the flight attendant, the pilot, etc.), it’s becomes completely subjective.

Personally, I wouldn’t wear a hat that sports that message but where is the line when it comes to “unreasonable risk and annoyance to other passengers?”

I know I’m weird but…

  • Flip-flops on planes (and then place their feet on the bulkhead or arm rest)….unreasonable risk and annoying to other passengers?
  • Bathing suits…unreasonable risk and annoying to other passengers?
  • Mr. “I Spend 24/7 in the gym so I wear t-shirts with the arms and side cutout”…unreasonable risk and annoying to other passengers?
  • Form-fitting denim short shorts (aka Daisy Dukes)…unreasonable risk and annoying to other passengers?
  • Athleisure (yoga pants, sports bra, etc.)…unreasonable risk and annoying to other passengers?

I once had a guy sit next to me that was wearing a floral, button down shirt but the entire shirt was unbuttoned so his hairy chest and stomach was visible. Admittedly, we were departing a Caribbean island but where’s the line?

Delta responded with this message:


I think it’s worth noting that, as of yesterday, Delta has kicked off and banned nearly 500 passengers for not wearing a mask. But perhaps they have different rules for crew???

And to be frank, I don’t think anyone comes out victorious in this video. Removing a hat is a simple request and doesn’t require the pilot. But on the opposite end, a (good) pilot should focus on defusing the situation and not speaking to the passenger like she is a toddler.

What do you make of this situation? Should there be repercussions for the pilot not wearing a mask in the cabin of the plane? Should the passenger have been kicked off? Should airlines rewrite their “proper plane attire” sections of their contract of carriage?

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