Family Kicked Off American Airlines Flight for Foul Odor, Claims Discrimination

A family was kicked off an American Airlines flight from Miami to Detroit on Wednesday. American says it was because they smelled. They say it’s because they’re Jewish.

They were given hotel and meal costs and rebooked to fly home today.

Yossi Adler, wife Jennie Adler, and their 19-month-old daughter were seated on their Miami-to-Detroit flight when ground crew asked them to step off the plane — and then the door closed behind them.

“They said, `Sir, people have complained that you have body odor,'” Adler told NBC News on Thursday. “I said, `Excuse me? I need to get home. There is no body odor on me.'”

…He used his cell phone to tape his argument with ground crew shortly after they were taken off the plane.

“There’s a religious reason for some reason that they’re kicking me off the plane. We don’t have odor OK? Nobody here has odor,” Adler is heard saying on the video he shot.

Moments, later a ground crew member asked: “Now you told me for religious reasons you don’t shower, is that what you said?”

Adler back: “No I didn’t! I shower every day. I said you kicked me off because of religious reasons.”

The man insists the reason couldn’t be their smell, since the airline didn’t tell them which member of their party was the one with the foul odor.

According to the airline, however,

Mr. Adler and his wife were removed from the flight when several passengers complained about their body odor. They have been booked into a hotel for the night and given meal vouchers. They have been rebooked on a flight Thursday

Wow. The airline does not mince words here, no mealy mouthed references to ‘passenger convenience’ or ‘an incident’ they come right out and say it was because of the body odor of the passengers. That strong statement alone is enough to make the airline’s explanation believable.

Furthermore, the family’s claim seems unlikely considering,

  • Their religion wasn’t listed on the manifest
  • This was a flight departing from South Florida. They likely weren’t the only Jews on the flight.

For what it’s worth I’ve been an American Airlines Executive Platinum eight years in a row, I’m nearly a four million miler, and I’ve never experienced discrimination on the airline because I’m Jewish. Several of the recent Presidents of the AAdvantage program have been Jewish.

They even let me select a Kosher meal whenever I wish (which I recommend during Passover, even though I do not keep Kosher).

My takeaway here is this. I’ve been on many flights next to smelly passengers, or passengers behaving badly. It’s nice to see an airline do something about that, and come out of pocket, even – covering extra expenses for the family they off-loaded – to cater to passenger comfort.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. If I were that 43lbs of marijuana guy from the other day I’d be upset…no food or hotel vouchers???

  2. The allegedly malodorous passengers DO have a beef, even if they were not discriminated against based on a protected class.

    Stinky people fly on planes all the time. Protip for frequent travelers is to bring flavored Chapstick and to rub it between the nose and upper lip when seated near a stinker.

  3. @Jason

    The ability for carriers to deplane “malodorous” pax is in most contracts of carriage, including AA’s. Couldn’t be more black and white.

  4. 1) I’m from Detroit and I know them personally. They are very normal people that would never smell.

    2) Gary you don’t look like a Jew

    3) south Florida flights to NYC often have many other Jews, but not MIA-DTW

    4) you claim “That strong statement alone is enough to make the airline’s explanation believable.” what does that mean? Anything an airline claims makes it believeable?

    5) the fact that other Jews are treated well doesn’t mean that an airline the size of AA doesn’t have 1 flight crew that was anti-Semitic. AA corporate might like Jews, but does that mean that there’s not one anti-Semitic AA employee out there?

    @Gary Feel free to email me if you want to verify that I know them

  5. I’m an odor free freshly showered 8 million mile American flyer now flying a much better airline now
    Where Roomy seating good upgrades and great customer service do exist
    Having been stranded by American with mechanical operational breakdowns of their planes All I received was the airport floor
    Sounds like these stinking passengers were truly vips

  6. @Chas — I realize my point was unclear. Yes, it’s in the CoC, but never enforced. So in this case when it is enforced, the passenger has a beef and a valid complaint of inconsistency.

  7. What’s also left out of this article, is that AA promised this man and his wife and child that they’re checked bags would be offloaded, yet they lied. This family was left overnight with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their diaper bag.
    You also left out that Adler asked other people in the airport if they smelled and everyone said they didn’t.

  8. As the entire family passed the TSA smell test during passenger screening, they should be permitted to fly on American Airlines.

  9. I’ve been next to hasidic jewish people on a flight before with really strong BO. Like you could smell it coming from the lav. I definitely see how this went down.

  10. While I doubt this was religious discrimination, it is still appalling. They kicked a family with an infant off the last flight of the night simply because they smelled. If that is truly now the standard for removing passengers from a flight, we are on a very slippery slope

  11. “Their religion wasn’t listed on the manifest” – Umm I think the yarmulke the guy was wearing kinda gave it away. For what it is worth it was several passengers, crew members and airport employees that complained that is quite a mix. I find it hysterical that they claim they are being discriminated against because they are Jewish. That seems like the go to move for people when they don’t get their way. Only problem is they are in Miami the second most jewish city in the entire united states, so I can’t imagine they were the only jews flying AA out of Miami.

  12. I think most everyone has been in a plane and been able to smell someone with body odor (because god knows they keep them hot as hell) but you rarely realize they stink that much in the fifteen or twenty minutes while loading and waiting to take off, I mean, I’m guessing the husband and wife were sitting next to one another, they load, someone has to be the third on the fourth on the aisle right? So if you board, get your stuff situated set up for their baby (presumably they were boarded first bc they had an infant) they were barely sitting down so we’re supposed to think that an adjacent passenger to the left or right of them smells foul odor, decides it is them, fights against loading passenger traffic to go get a flight attendant, flight attendant does a sniff test and determines it is this couple who smell (not perhaps a stinky seat, something else etc) and then is flagged down by other passengers and on this fastest to load flight EVER decides to kick them off? Have to call billshit on this one…I am guessing maybe the baby was screaming and the fa said nah, we ain’t listening to this crap all night, maybe it was an anti Semitic act but frankly you can’t generally spot Jews unless they wearing yamikas or whatever ant it didn’t seem apparent in photo? Maybe an elite wanted the seats…no telling but pretty sure they didn’t have time to get enough complaints and decide it was worthy of kicking off…maybe it was just an over booked flight, I’d love to hear from other pax

  13. The only thing worse than being in a plane with a smoker is someone with BO. There’s no excuse for BO. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry had to sell his car. I would rather sit next to a baby screaming non stop then sit next to someone with BO.

  14. I’m not going to comment about the story, as I have no idea who is right in this case. But I do want to comment on this quote:

    “Furthermore, the family’s claim seems unlikely considering,

    Their religion wasn’t listed on the manifest
    This was a flight departing from South Florida. They likely weren’t the only Jews on the flight.”

    This is at best ignorant. The family is visibly Jewish. They don’t have to be listed on the manifest as Jewish, everyone can see it.

    For people like me who are visibly Jewish, anti-Semitism is something we live with on a daily basis, and having people who don’t walk around with yarmulkes and tzitzis gaslight us is not only offensive, in today’s day and age, with anti-Semitism on the rise, it is dangerous.

    Every single reader of yours who is visibly Jewish has experienced anti-Semitism. Every. Single. One. It could be something minor like a middle finger and an “f***ing Jew” screamed on a subway platform, or it could be a violent attack that happens every week in NYC. When you dismiss the possibility of anti-semitism because it hasn’t happened to you is, like I said, at best ignorant, at worst offensive gaslighting that allows the bigotry to fester.

    I don’t believe you meant any ill will, and I share this comment to give you a glimpse into what a visibly Jewish person lives with.

  15. People play the race card all the time. Because they are black , gay, Jewish etc just to claim compensation. You don’t list religion on a manifest. Stupid comment. However it’s fairly obvious when you see a family of Hasidic Jews People hacks the right to travel in comfort and if the BO was so bad then they could have been offloaded. Probably wasn’t picked up in the terminal as it’s more noticeable in the confined space of an aircraft.
    Not saying it was the case here however some do not bath daily or even weekly. I know it. They have a bowl of water and soak their feet. It’s a minority, but just saying. And of course this applies to many people of any race However I’m sure AA will cave in and offer refunds and compensation

  16. I know them personally!
    They are an amazing people, very generous and kind, I’ve been to their home , it’s sparkly clean and I can promise you that they don’t have bad odor…
    Yossi is wearing a black yarmulke and he looks “Jewish “
    I believe this was an act of anti-Semitism !

  17. Gary, the Kosher food is awfull on AA flights. Some secular Jews do descriminate against orthodox Jews, George Soros as an example.

  18. Biggest BS reason I’ve heard yet. Body Odor??? If that was really the issue, dont you think the guy in the video would be able to smell it?? And they werent told till after they were by the gate after being removed. I hate to say it, but it sounds like a classical act of antisemitism or too cheap to bump them, so made up some BS.

  19. It is an act of anti-Semitism. Unfortunatly it takes place too often without any consequences for antisemite. Just wonder if AA could remove a person of color for any reason?!
    Family should sue AA for the 7 figure

  20. I’d bet that this was an issue with a soiled diaper ( either on the baby or in the bag). Those ultra religious people ( Muslim or Jewish and some Indian religions) LOOK very dirty /scruffy because of the beards and hair, but I never noticed any bad smell.

  21. @Paolo and others.
    Not sure you meant bad but what are you saying?
    These ultra religious look very dirty?
    Have you been on a flight recently? By the way, imagine saying that about other ethnic groups such as rastafarians? It would be wrong to mention any group.
    It might have been a diaper issue or just an empowered passenger somehow getting an empowered cabin crew with similar feelings. Cabin crew members do have racial issues and it seems obvious that any man wearing a skullcap in MIA airport is Jewish.
    For the record, they were essentially stranded at the airport because the airline kept their carseat and it is illegal to travel with a child in a motor vehicle without a carseat.

  22. Here is my thought on the whole situation:

    I find it very interesting that the airline paid for the hotel room and and got them meal vouchers.

    If it is an issue of BO.. that would not be the fault of the airline, so why would they pay the hotel and meal vouchers? Seems fishy to me.

    If a member of the family did have body odor, did the agents who kicked the family off the plane smell it? There are many other people on the plane…and in the gate area. It easily could have been another party.

  23. “Furthermore, the family’s claim seems unlikely considering, Their religion wasn’t listed on the manifest”

    …so, you also agree that African-Americans who get thrown off airplanes cannot claim racism because… their race isn’t listed on the manifest?

    Did you even bother reading the article to which you link?

    I enjoy the blog, but this comment is pathetic.

  24. Gary, again you show your blind spots. And hilariously: “That strong statement alone is enough to make the airline’s explanation believable.”. Have you been living in America for the past two years????

  25. I once flew from LAX to HKG next to a couple that probably never took a shower since they were born. People around us were getting nauseous and my wife vomited couple times. Finally the FA found different seats for us to move. Seriously nobody deserves to seat next to someone that stinks so badly. BTW, many times even if people shower but wear the same smelly clothes from another day that won’t do any good.

  26. I’d demand to be moved if I was seated beside one/ones w/bo! I PD my HARD EARNED $$$$ to have a pleasant flight, & I’ll just be damned if I have to fly being miserable & probably sick.
    I have a weak stomach so I’m sure I’d have one helluva bad reaction to something this sickening.

  27. I have noticed some Jewish people have bad odor here on the sidewalk it makes you move over to get away. I once had a man on the plane that smelled horrible. They asked him to come off the plane. I tried not to say anything, but I could not hold my breath any longer. It is not fair that you should have to sit next to someone for that amount of time and be nauseated.

  28. Not sure whether their removal was legit or not but you know if it was a family of Arabs the media would have stormed AA and the airline would have given them all expense paid trip to anywhere they wanted . Too bad Jews are at the bottom of the victim totem pole…

  29. I was on that flight. Trust me, they stunk, and before they left the plane several of us were mumbling under our breath at how miserable the flight was going to be. I literally wanted to vomit or get off the plane and take another flight. It was that bad. Sorry.

  30. Allyson93 sir/madam you have NO class!
    “Trust me” is a codeword for lying. You have to be a very bad person to kick a baby from the flight. I flew transatlantic behind elderly who was passing gas for duration of the trip. Nobody around complained. I’ve been flying more 100K every year since 2000, visited many countries and a lot of smelly people, but never seen anyone complaining even worse removing baby or elderly from the flight.

  31. I don’t believe that they smelled bad. If they did? It would have been reported at the gate. It could be though that some people didn’t want to have a baby? Or that there was a bad smell from another source on the aircraft? Like trash? Someone else farting in that area? (seriously). I think that the misleading act of taking them of the flight and closing the gate?? This was bad news. The AA at the counter not once said: I smell bad odor from you. He said: they complained. Really? who is they??

  32. The 18 month old child smells? Or who of them? The classical racist theme of lower races odor! The stupid idea that not all of the Airlines are the anti-semites is the bad defence. To use some servile Jew in defence,shows clearly: the company defends the anti-semites at any price.As a foreigner, I see America with the differen eyes after that.

  33. Normally, a person who “smells”, but is not particularly odoriferous will be allowed on a flight, especially if it is not fully booked. Passengers can be moved around, if needed.
    These people stunk so bad that the flight crew made the recommendation (and had the authority) to kick them off the flight.
    American Airlines paid for a hotel room for them, suggesting that they “clean up their act” and were flown to their destination the next day.
    These “stinkers” will probably sue the airline…

  34. After WW2, Jews who were “liberated” had to be forced to use toilets. The soldiers running these “displaced persons” facilities commented on the disgusting habits of the jews. It’s all documented.
    Here is a quote by none other than General George S. Patton:
    “where, although room existed, the Jews were crowded together to an appalling extent, and in practically every room there was a pile of garbage in one corner which was also used as a latrine. The Jews were only forced to desist from their nastiness and clean up the mess by the threat of the butt ends of rifles. Of course, I know the expression “lost tribes of Israel” applied to the tribes which disappeared – not to the tribe of Judah from which the current sons of b!tches are descended. However, it is my personal opinion that this too is a lost tribe – lost to all decency.”
    It is fact that their hygiene habits were nonexistent. :George S. Patton
    Even today, there are jews who refuse to conform to normal hygiene habits. I’ve encountered many of them…

  35. @anarchyst
    You’re seriously trying to bring a proof from people subjected to Nazi atrocities, that were robbed of their dignity, beaten and humiliated, starved to death, on a daily basis????
    That just isn’t logical.

    I highly doubt the Jewish Holocost survivors differed in hygienic behavior than their non-Jewish counterparts.

    Either way, there have been so many stories lately of people being kicked off planes, all you gotta do is look at an FA the wrong the way, and they can tell the captain that you disobeyed orders and you can get booted.
    In this particular story there are so many unanswered questions, no sensible person would jump to any conclusions at this point.

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