5 Rights You Lose Whenever You Board a Plane

There is no right to unlimited free speech on planes.

— -- We've all heard about yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater: not good. Also not good: wearing a shirt on a plane emblazoned with the F-word.

News flash: There is no right to unlimited free speech on planes. Its temporary suspension and loss of other rights is due to safety concerns, plus concerns about passengers getting along on today's packed planes. The good news is, it's temporary and worth it since flying remains the fastest and cheapest way to travel.

A brief look at what can get lost or suspended during flight.

1. Right to free speech

There it is, in black and white, in Southwest's contract of carriage: "Carrier may refuse to transport or remove" passengers for all kinds of violations including those "whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive." You may not agree with it but you can't say you weren't warned.

2. Freedom from search and seizure

Use common sense. You do not have the freedom to bring fireworks or explosives on planes or guns and other weapons in cabins but that doesn't stop people from trying. They get pretty ingenious too; last week someone came through security at Chicago's Midway airport with a stun gun disguised as a lipstick. Yes, it was confiscated.

3. Freedom of expression

Are you a free-spirit who likes to fly barefoot? Many do, according to the snarky PassengerShaming site which is plastered with photos of unattractive naked feet on armrests, seatbacks and (ugh) tray tables. Nevertheless, most airlines like United have rules forbidding bare feet on planes, generally for those aged five and older. If told to put your shoes back on, do so or you could find yourself back in the airport along with those who thought wearing F-bomb t-shirts was a good idea.

4. The right to travel with the pet of your choice

Airlines do allow service animals and often emotional support animals in the cabin. Frontier however draws the line at emotional support animals such as a "rat, squirrel, or beaver" and don't even think about trying to sneak a service snake on one of their plane.

5. The right to a lack of hygiene

Yes, airlines do care how often you take a shower, or it would seem based on passenger acceptance policies and here are a couple: American reserves the right to remove passengers with "offensive odor" while Delta gives the stink eye to travelers in a "malodorous condition". It doesn't happen often but people have been kicked off planes because they smelled bad.

Here's a right I wouldn't mind seeing suspended: the right-to-recline which the guy in front of you only exercises when you set a drink down on the tray table. Couldn't they at least put a little warning bells on these seats?

Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.