How stupid can some people get?

Unless you are a small child or flying for the first time, airplane flights are a drag. No one takes airplane rides for the fun of it. The whole business of going to the airport way ahead of departure time, going through security, and sitting in a cramped seat for hours, has eliminated any pleasure that the experience may have originally had, at least for me. You do it because you must.

Any person who has ever had their flight canceled at the last minute knows that it causes a real disruption in one’s plans, even if it was just a vacation trip. So it baffles me when people who had planned to travel by air do things that they must know will get them kicked off the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced fines totaling $20,000 against two airline passengers who interfered with crews. The civil penalties come as as part of a zero-tolerance policy designed to combat a surge of similar cases in recent months.

The agency said it will seek a $10,500 fine against a passenger who repeatedly ignored orders to wear a mask, which is required by federal regulation, then coughed and blew his nose into a blanket during a JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Los Angeles in December.

A second man, who slammed overhead bins and shouted profanities at flight attendants and the captain after boarding a JetBlue flight from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, in March before he was escorted off the plane, faces a $9,000 fine, according to the agency.

The pair of cases comes three days after the FAA announced potential fines against four other passengers. More than 12 passengers have been hit with fines, some of over $30,000, in recent weeks. The passengers have the right to dispute the fines. They have not been identified.

The zero-tolerance crackdown began in January after supporters of Donald Trump created disturbances on several flights to and from Washington DC.

The only explanation that I can think of is that these people thought that they would still be able to fly after acting like this, which makes them kind of stupid, or that they knew they would get fined and kicked off and did it anyway, thinking that history will view them as a modern-day Rosa Parks, which makes them look even more stupid.


  1. Who Cares says

    The best one I’ve read about with regard to people like this is an senator in Alaska who for similar behavior got booted from the only regular flight to/from her work 600 miles away (850 by car). And not just booted but banned from flying (using Alaska Airlines). link to CNN article.

  2. Allison says

    Too many American children are walking around masquerading as adults.

    You’re slandering children. The children I know are far better behaved than this.

  3. garnetstar says

    My favorite example of world-bending entitlement was a white woman who was flying from Newark to LA. After all the 300 passengers were seated, she discovered that two of them had bought tickets to bring their dogs, in carriers, into the cabin.

    She declared a life-threatening allergy to dogs, demanded that the two passengers be kicked off, and that the entire plane be de-boarded and vaccumed.

    The poor flight attendants kept suggesting that, if the allergy was fatal, she should get off *immediately* and get the gate agent to arrange the next flight. No. They asked if she’d brought this up when booking, if she had a certificate or letter from a doctor, and if she had any emergency treatment like an epi-pen on her. No, none of that. They assured her that she’d be booked on the very next pet-free flight. No, the passengers must be booted and the entire plane cleaned.

    She carried this on until the Newark city police had to drag her away kicking and screaming. So, definitely missed her appointments in LA, and also, because it’s city police who come onboard planes, and it is a crime to resist them, ended up in jail.

    Q: How many entitled American adults does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: One, to hold the bulb up while the world revolves around them.

  4. StonedRanger says

    To answer the question asked in the title of the blog post, from what I have seen in all of my 66 years, there is no limit to how stupid people can be. And apparently, stupid cannot be fixed.

  5. Mano Singham says

    garnetstar @5,

    They don’t pay flight attendants nearly enough, given the trouble that people give them.

  6. says

    Someone once asked “How stupid can people be?” in the presence of my old boss, Fred A., who replied, “I don’t know -- how stupid is there?”

    I’ve never been able to top that one.

  7. billseymour says


    Q: How many entitled American adults does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: One, to hold the bulb up while the world revolves around them.

    I am totally stealing that!

    Regarding the main question in the post, I think we can put a lower bound on the amount of stupidity by direct observation.  There doesn’t seem to be an upper bound in sight yet.

    Regarding the bit about the annoyance of flying, when I have the time, or can make the time, I much prefer to ride on a train.  Unfortunately, the U.S. has only a skeletal network of passenger trains, and there are lots of cases of “you can’t get there from here.”  COVID permitting, my next trip on Amtrak will be from St. Louis to Portland in February.

  8. blf says

    Not a flight-related story, but an incident I observed at a very nice hotel in Lisboa many yonks ago: I’d gone to the front desk make a request. Before me was a — I have to say this, sorry — exceptionally obese woman speakingyelling English in a USAian accent, to the effect that she missed a supposedly-important incoming phone call. (This was in the mostly pre-mobile and entirely pre-“MAGA” era.) As far as I can now reall, she was claiming that somehow the hotel staff were supposed to know the call was “important” and she had to be located to answer the call. The very polite gentleman behind the desk kept trying to explain that without a prior warning (and perhaps even then), that was unreasonable. The fat fool wasn’t listening (from memory, she didn’t seem to comprehend), and eventually stormed off in a huff.

    I don’t recall apologising for the moron’s behaviour, but certainly did express empathy and dismay with the gentleman. He graciously granted my request (to store my baggage for a few days when I was not a customer (I would return later for another stay) whilst I when to other places in Portugal) — and it occurs to me just now, was the same gentleman who upgraded (at no additional cost) my return stay from a standard room to a “luxury” suite upon return. (As I’ve commented previously here at FtB, the suite was larger than my home flat.)

  9. mnb0 says

    “No one takes airplane rides for the fun of it.”
    You really should fly to and from Suriname once, preferably with SLM (but only after the covid crisis).
    (Personally I strongly dislike it)

  10. garnetstar says

    Mano @7, very true. It’s getting to the point where I think that flight attendants may start to prefer dealing with emergencies, etc., in which at least most of the passengers shut up and follow the instructions.

    billseymour @9, thanks! It’s not original, I think I first heard it with “Harvard students” in it, but since many of them are entitled American adults, it still applies.

    Also, YES, I have been long proclaiming that trains are BY FAR the most comfortable and pleasant way to travel! I would almost everywhere if I could. To steal another joke (from Monty Python), when traveling by long distances by train instead of air, “At least your brain gets there the same time your body does.”

  11. Mark Dowd says

    Before me was a — I have to say this, sorry — exceptionally obese woman

    Exactly why did you have to say this? Unless I missed something, the woman’s obesity is entirely irrelevant to the story and you are just fat shaming for no reason.

  12. jrkrideau says

    airplane flights are a drag
    Well they can be but I have met some fascinating people that way as well. Given the choice I would take the train though that train trip from Istanbul to Athens was a bit dire at times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *