I'm sure you've seen videos like this where they ask everybody to deplane before the police removes an unruly passenger, why?

I remember they use to just remove that passenger alone, why do they need to deplane everybody these days? (this seems to happen only on certain airports, not all of them, but still I don't understand the reasoning)

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    $\begingroup$ ukfsc.co.uk/files/Safety%20Briefings%20_%20Presentations/… - This process doesn't appear to be a formal procedure, at least according to the various flight manuals I've read for UK flights. The goal is to make the unruly passenger leave the plane as a matter of priority $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Feb 25 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ An 'unruly' passenger's behaviour might threaten everyone with arm's reach, at least… Would it be better to move every potential victim out of the way, or to leave anyone in range? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 26 at 20:24

3 Answers 3


Airplanes are cramped spaces. Getting everybody else off the plane first gives the police more room to move and fewer bystanders to run into in case the unruly passenger decides to struggle.

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    $\begingroup$ Indeed. Basically, one of the reasons they do this is for the safety of the passengers getting deplaned. To avoid collateral damage. $\endgroup$
    – Mast
    Commented Feb 24 at 9:04

Deplaning "everybody else" removes the thought that "if I just stay put long enough, eventually they'll give in & depart & I'll go to my destination." If everybody else is off the airplane, the prospect that it will depart for the destination with only that individual on board will seem far less likely -- i.e. it removes the prospect of "I can 'win' by holding out."

But mainly it's so that the troublemaker doesn't have the option of playing to the camera. He's not going to be famous, he's just going to have an arrest record. And trouble getting where he was trying to go, ever again -- probably on airlines' no-fly lists for a fair while.

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    $\begingroup$ Neither caring about publicity nor convincing the troublemaker to arrive at a logical conclusion they should surrender are relevant primary motivations for removing the bystanding public from a volatile situation by law enforcement. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Commented Feb 25 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ If the situation is truly volatile, taking the significant time to deplane one or two hundred passengers, some of them walking right past the troublemaker on their way out, isn't a very good plan. This is about dealing with the passenger who refuses to get off the plane when told to, not about how a SWAT team deals with somebody who is violent from the outset. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Feb 25 at 21:14
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ you can evacuate any aircraft with at most a handful of people having to go past the troublemaker. And while you probably won’t get (and don’t want to get) the <90 seconds of an emergency evacuation, it can still be done in minutes if people don’t take their carry-on. Whether it’s a good idea or useful probably depends a lot on the exact circumstances (I.e. what the trouble is exactly) $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Feb 25 at 22:55
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    $\begingroup$ A great number of law enforcement agencies, and officers, prefer to gently escalate until they receive compliance. Deplaning alters the environment. For a large number of people, the sudden lack of witnesses is threatening or intimidating. Sometimes altering the environment is enough to obtain compliance, if not, they've only added options to obtain compliance, peacefully or forcibly. $\endgroup$
    – David S
    Commented Feb 26 at 23:53

The aircraft needs to be searched after a person is removed and the person's baggage removed from the hold. Otherwise "being a troublemaker" could be used to put a live bomb on the aircraft.

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    $\begingroup$ indeed - I imagine that just breaking the "seal" of ending boarding and having a definitive list of who is on the plane might require a re-start in the "security" of today. $\endgroup$
    – Mike M
    Commented Feb 24 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ For that matter, who's to say what law enforcement brought in and left on board, either by honest mistake or as part of a greater plot. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 26 at 3:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Harper-ReinstateMonica I smell a summer blockbuster! $\endgroup$
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Feb 26 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ If a troublemaker can bring a live bomb on board in the first place, isn't that rather already a problem? Do you have any source for this being the reason, or at least part of it? (Also, at least here in the U.S., I've never heard of an aircraft being searched after a troublemaker was deplaned, unless the troublemaker was actually making bomb threats or there was some other suggestion that that might be a possibility.) $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Feb 26 at 17:55

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