In every flight, we are instructed that we must leave our personal belongings in case of evacuation. I remember also notified that it is illegal not to follow the rules (I don't remember if this goes only for the non-smoking rule though).

So, is it "illegal" to take your stuff with you, while instructed to leave the airplane in an emergency (thus stalling the process)?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For USA: Do Federal Regulations really require compliance with all crewmember instructions? $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    May 11, 2019 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ @ymb1 so the answer is yes? BTW, I don't see the reason for downvote and close vote, and more importantly I don't see guidance/explanation for those.. I remember this place was once very helpful. :/ $\endgroup$
    – gsamaras
    May 11, 2019 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ Well, it's obviously not "OK" so the title might have struck some as attention-getting and self-explanatory, perhaps. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2019 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer hmm can you please suggest how to improve my question? The way this site evolved makes me afraid of posting a new question, every time.. :/ $\endgroup$
    – gsamaras
    May 11, 2019 at 15:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well I was just talking about the title specifically. Maybe change "ok" to "legal" if that's still within the meaning you intend. I didn't downvote though $\endgroup$ May 11, 2019 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


No. The intent of the statute involves "assaulting or intimidating" a crew member. Passively failing to obey a crew member has no criminal liability nor does disobeying generic safety guidance given by crew members or aircraft literature.

The actual statute reads like this (49 U.S.C. § 46504):

An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.

Normally, disobeying a crew member generally has the effect of getting the passenger kicked off the flight. Note that a captain can remove any person for ANY reason from a flight, nor does the captain need to give a reason. Of course, if the flight is in progress, then removal is not an option.

(Also, note that this answer is for the United States only. In authoritarian/Salic law type places like France or Germany, they have laws that generally make it criminal to disobey authorities, which is different than the United States.)

  • $\begingroup$ "Of course, if the flight is in progress, then removal is not an option." -- well not a legal or advisable one, anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Dannie
    May 13, 2019 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ It is not generally a criminal offence to disobey an authority in Germany. It is however a crime to cause other people harm or death due to gross negligence (see here or here e.g.). $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    May 13, 2019 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ It might be worth noting that this might change after the Moscow accident where one of the passengers caused a bunch of people to die by blocking the evacuation by getting his bags. $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    May 14, 2019 at 2:07

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