American Airlines Apologizes For Making Woman Change Out Of Hail Satan T-Shirt

A little over a month ago – on October 30 – a couple were traveling from Key West to Las Vegas. On their first flight segment Swati Runi Goyal was asked to change her shirt or get off the flight.

“The man said, ‘Your shirt is offensive. Do you know what that means?’” Goyal said. “I said, ‘I’m a foreign-born minority woman, I understand ‘offensive,’ and this shirt is not offensive.’”

Customer service came on board the plane. Her husband was wearing two layers of clothing so he gave one to her, covering up her shirt, and they were allowed to fly.

The offending shirt? It said “Hail Satan” and established in the year 666.

She’s not a satanist but “is a member of the Satanic Temple” which I take to be something like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, not an actual religion but an ironic one meant to criticize Christianity (or, more charitably, “[t]he Satanic Temple is a nontheistic religious organization that has become known for its activism on issues such as separation of church and state, free speech and religious freedom”).

When she complained after the flight American’s response offered, “[o]ur flight attendants have a responsibility to all passengers in our care, and we must sometimes make difficult decisions associated with the application of our policies.”

On twitter she got the rather generic “discrimination has no place at American Airlines”

However Buzzfeed quotes American’s Ross Feinstein offering, “We apologize to Ms. Goyal for her experience, and we are reaching out to her to understand what occurred.” Now, I take this not so much to apologize for what American did but for what the woman feels she experienced, and doesn’t offer a conclusion on what happened – since they still have to investigate that. However the passenger reports she was offered a refund for her and her husband’s tickets.

The co-founder of The Satanic Temple isn’t accepting the apology.

I actually wouldn’t have a problem with an airline that offered a clear, concise and easy to understand dress code. American’s rules say passengers must “[d]ress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed.” It’s hard to know ex ante what’s permitted or not.

In contrast a rule that says “no satantic symbols” and “no bare midriffs” or that chose even to say “no visible tattoos or piercings” I’d be alright with, customers would have fair notice not to fly the airline. That would require, though, that we stop protecting airlines from competition so customers would have a choice.

In fact if competition were legal in the airline industry, a dress code that said ‘our flight attendants will decide whether you can fly, applying standards that will vary from flight to flight’ would even be acceptable because anyone unsure whether they’ll pass muster would just fly someone else. In a competitive environment such a policy – as appears to have been enforced in this case – would mean sacrificing revenue.

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. American Airlines also banned flight number from AA666 from use. You will find flight AA665 from CLT to DFW and flight AA667 from PHX to MKE but, flight AA666 his been killed from the American Airlines flight schedule. I think AA666 would be a excellent flight number for passengers on an international codeshare flight from SUX to HEL.

  2. Just by her response “I am a foreign born minority woman” you can tell she is looking for trouble and humility or humbleness are not in her vocabulary.

    She is an embarrassment for immigrants, but I guess she won’t care about that. She is all about herself and her ridiculous, mindless activism.

    OTOH, AA should have just ignored her and her stupid shirt.
    But where is the line?
    Is Hail ISIS okay?
    Is Hail to Islamic Terrorists who killed innocent women okay?
    Is Hail to Mexican Cartels okay?

  3. Ah, yes, the old minority woman defense. I wonder if they have that in chess?

    From where do all these idiots come? Wear the damn thing in bed, not in public. When getting dressed, ask yourself, would my mother approve of my being out in this?

  4. I don’t understand the negative comments. I’m an old guy (61) raised Christian and have no problem with her wearing the shirt. IMHO the “offended” person was a thin skinned flight attendant and AA should reprimand him or her. I’m lifetime Platinum BTW so this is the airline I fly most of the time.

    Also I have seen people board American flights wearing shirts with the “F word” and the “C word” on them (really) so not sure why something like this would be considered offensive.

    On what basis can any of you logically explain why this is offensive when, in addition to shirts with cuss words in them, people wear shirts that state their political or religious views all the time and those would clearly be offensive to some people.

  5. @AC +1

    I’m an old guy, 72, also lifetime AA Plat, brought up Catholic and I love this kind of thing. I had enough religion growing up. Don’t need no religion, not as far as I can tell. If the Hare Krishnas get to dance around airports and Christians get to stick bibles in hotel rooms, she ought to be able to wear her Satanic shirt.

    @DFWSteve, it ain’t people, it’s religion. If you want to wear a “Hail Allah” shirt, be my guest, I will love it. All religions are a journey from SUX to HEL IMHO and, for now at least, I get to say what I think. Just saying.

    BTW I just picked up two J seats MIA/COR RT for $1800 each. Not really interested in Cordoba but the Tipati festival is first two weeks of February and the only way to get to Rapa Nui is via Santiago; seems to me like COR to SCL will make an interesting road trip. The MIA/COR route is the only way to get to Argentina for short money, and it goes away in May, 2020.

  6. The “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” (Gary’s term) type organizations are not really harmless. In fact, they are in court everywhere trying to remove religious symbols from public land. [Incidentally, the Federal Government owns 27% of acreage in the USA.] This includes century old crosses, Christmas trees, the Ten Commandments from courthouses, and even “In God We Trust” from the USA currency.

    Why is this important? Either (i) you believe in big “R” “unalienable Rights” that flow from the “Creator” (read “higher power”) per the Declaration of Independence or (ii) you believe in little “r” rights that are granted by the Government. In the latter case, the Government can abridge or abolish those rights for the common good (which means the virtue signaling of the day). For example, suppose the common good requires that travel be reduced to lower carbon emissions to save the planet. Then, for the common good, travel blogs could be outlawed by the Government because they promote travel. After all, if “hate speech” is not protected by the First Amendment, then if follows that “travel speech” is also not protected given that travel is creating carbon that is destroying the planet. Just saying.

    To be clear: I personally believe in big “R” rights and I have no problem purchasing beach front property. Notably, both Obama and Gore also have purchased beach front property.

  7. Gary, why are you accusing this woman of not being a satanist? As far as I can tell, her beliefs seem consistent with the theory of satanism as practiced in organized groups going back as far as LaVeyan satanism. I can’t imagine that you would have been quite so quick to label someone as not really a jew or christian.

  8. @Lentoasema you misread my post. I said ANTI Muslim. So I ain’t hailing Allah, that’s for sure. And I got a doozy of a shirt for the occasion. Somehow I suspect that those who support the woman wearing the Satan t shirt would not come to my defense if I were thrown off a plane. . Just sayin’.

  9. I’m going to wear Satanic Temple gear on every airline flight I take in 2020.

    That superstitious Christians get their panties in a wad (above, see calls to commit murder) only makes one realize how clever and important the mission of the Satanic Temple is.

    Hail Satan!!

  10. @itherjustsaying, You win the prize!!

    Your rant about how the only way to guarantee our constitutional right to a free press is to share your weird belief in your vengeful sky daddy truly takes the cake. It has inspired me to give Satanic Temple gifts to all my extended family for Christmas.

    What a demented, tortured world you inhabit!

    Hail Satan!!

  11. It’s simple: either you believe in freedom of religion or you don’t. If you do, that means accepting things about other religions that you don’t personally like. If you feel really strongly about it, move to a country that has a state religion that you like, because our constitution specifically allows freedoms of both speech and religion.

  12. @AC. Since when is 61 old? It barely scrapes into the early stages of middle age. ‘Old’ starts to kick in over 85.
    Yes, the fuss over the shirt is pathetic. What would they make of one with ‘AC/DC Highway to Hell’ on it?

  13. Interesting to see the hatred that spews out of conservatives and evangelicals over something like this. Anything they disagree with is considered offensive if it’s in their line of sight. Their only motive is to create their own cushy world and expect everyone else to step up. However the hypocrisy is clear, “Baptists don’t recognize each other in a liquor store “.

  14. Ummm……everyone is missing the point—this woman wanted attention, and then she got it. Anyone wearing an ironic shirt from any persuasion/political opinion/ideology is looking for a reaction and for someone to “discriminate” or “persecute” them for their ideas…….yet, if one truly believes In the issue on their chest, you’d have no problem with the consequences of your actions……(most of these snowflakes are excited to offend but have no real backbone to stand up for the hollow slogans touted on their silly shirts)…..
    The whole thing is just dumb—leave this ignorant moron alone so we can all laugh at her and hope one day she’ll grow up — bless her heart.

  15. Historically, freedom of religion was put into the Bill of Rights to prohibit the Federal Government from establishing a State Religion like the Church of England. The so called “separation of Church and State” was a legal construct put in place by judges in their infinite godlike wisdom later on but have little to do with the original intent of the Bill of Rights.

    This doctrine is being used by anti-Christian activist groups (such as the Satanic Temple) as a cudgel to drive Christian symbols out of any place Federal, State, and Local governments have any sort of influence (ie the public square). Given that the Federal State and Local spending represented 35% of GDP in Fiscal Year ending September 2018 and that the Federal, State, and Local governments own a significant portion of the land in the USA (sorry, I do not have a number beyond the 27% owned by the Federal Government), the public square is almost everywhere.

    Although I am Agnostic, I believe the American concept that each person has “unalienable Rights” that was put in place by the “Creator”. Further, I believe that Governments do not have the ability to abridge those rights because they come from a higher authority.

  16. On the specific topic of the shirt, who cares what she what she was wearing. People that kicked her off the plane were over-reacting. She can wear whatever she likes in the bus, wait, I mean the plane.

    Similarly, those that kicked the “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required” shirts formerly sold at Walmart off the plane (discussed extensively on this blog) were over-reacting.

    Similarly, those protesting MAGA hats on planes were over reacting.

    And so on, and so on, and so on.

  17. RE: Patrick. I admit, the flaw in my argument is that subhumans like Patrick are contrary to the concept that there is a divine spark in every human being.

  18. @Norita – did YOU forget the 1st amendment? “Congress shall make no law…”

    A public corporation’s dress code does not fall under that umbrella. FWIW I don’t care about the shirt but this is not a 1st amendment issue.

  19. Most SJWs (which this woman seems to be with her identity politics) support the 1st Amendment dialectically, like the Marxist/Communists in the US always have. They can say with a straight face that they support the 1st Amendment and absolutely mean it because as long as the 1st Amendment is in place, they can continue to carry out their subversive and revolutionary activities until they’re in a strong enough position to overthrow or take over the state or the reigns of power, at which point they can do away with the “fascist” and “bourgeois” constitution.

  20. @Sam – You’re not supposed to actually drink the bong water. Supporting the constitution is not the same as opposing it. Either you believe in free speech or you don’t. If you don’t, Russia will earnestly welcome you. Otherwise, welcome to the mishmash that is a free society.

  21. @Christian: Total misread of my point. There are those who wish to take advantage of a free society to turn it into its opposite, so you don’t have to go to Russian, they will bring (Soviet-style) Russia to you. This has long been the stated aim of the Marxist left. No, they haven’t disappeared, look at Venezuela, China, Cuba, Central America, and other parts of the world, they’re still at it. That’s one of the reasons why there are laws in the US against sedition, treason, espionage and so on; so a free society can stay free.

  22. @ Other Just Saying. Thank you. You got it right and wrote it exceptionally well. Those who think common sense and morality can be legislated by government have not studied history and evidently little experience and knowledge in human behavior.

  23. @otherjustsaying

    Are you attempting to win a second prize? I’m tempted to offer you one for your audacious combination of hypocrisy, complete ignorance of history and propensity to declare yourself an expert on matters in which you demonstrate no knowledge or aptitude whatsoever.

    Not everyone would be willing to claim that political rights are inalienable only because they derive from your One True Sky-daddy and then, in the same sentence, declare another person to be “subhuman” for failure to share your persistent superstition in the aforementioned One True Sky-daddy. That was quite a feat.

    In contrast, I’m less impressed by your claim that legal restrictions on government sponsored religion are being “used as a cudgel by anti-Christians”. Yes, we are doing our very best to prevent the government from sponsoring or endorsing any form of Christianity, which some sick, demented people would like to claim is a de-facto state religion. Yes, I have personally distributed Satanic coloring books to elementary school kids who might otherwise believe that those groups handing out bibles (worse, the New Testament, which is poorly written, repetitive and boring!) have the backing of the state. But your formulation seems slightly less unglued here, it’s as though you’ve understood the form of the idea that church and state should not mix, but missed the obvious content that this means that in public accommodations one cannot favor your One True Sky-daddy over, say, Satan. It’s almost like you’re reading talking points from some right wing Christian group that hired a PR agency to make them. Seem less insane.

    I prefer you when you’re at your most insane. Declaring those who do not share your superstitions to be “subhumans” is much more effective in highlighting the crazy. It’s hard not to see you and those like you as a danger to our country when you attempt to condition constitutional freedoms on sharing your unhinged beliefs.

    Keep trying!

  24. Nobody would get kicked out of a mall for wearing that shirt. Nobody would question them wearing that shirt around an airport. Why would it occur to anyone to treat it differently on an airplane?

  25. @Patrick: You said: “Yes, I have personally distributed Satanic coloring books to elementary school kids”. You and I are both adults. You insult me, I insult you back. That is how the insult game works. However, if you are really giving “Satanic coloring books” to other peoples’ children, you need take some serious time to reconsider your moral compass.

  26. @anotherannoyingjustsaying

    I certainly didn’t insult you, and you didn’t insult me. You said some horrifying, unethical and idiotic things and I merely pointed them out. I merely highlight the borderline insane elements of your crazed ranting.

    As for distributing Satanic coloring books to elementary school children, I’m very proud of the work we do. It’s of vital importance to the communities in which we are active. Unlike your self-aggrandizing, authoritarian streak, outs work benefits the children and our communities.

    Finally, I’ll merely point out that you are the same poster who claimed that those who do not share your belief in a vengeful One True Sky-daddy are “subhuman”, you are hardly in a position to question anyone’s moral compass. If you have a moral compass, it is very broken and you’ve lost all moral bearings.

    Go with Baphomet, and hail Satan!

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