Let me tell you about the story of Wynand Mullings and his t-shirt. Mullins, a Kiwi living in Sydney, boarded a Qantas flight with a funny t-shirt that said "My name is Iñigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die", a quote from The Princess Bride. Some people freaked out because they thought Mullins's name was Iñigo and that he thought they killed his father and that he was going to kill them all now. True story, folks.
Mullins was minding his own business on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Auckland when a flight attendant approached him:
The flight attendant said to me: ‘Are you able to remove it because some of the passengers are quite intimidated by it'. I thought it was all a bit silly. The person next to me was laughing, because they knew the movie.
When Mullins said that he didn't have another t-shirt, the flight attendant actually went off to find him a t-shirt. The flight attendant didn't return.
Now, the problem with this is not that some people have never watched or read The Princess Bride (by the way, it is a great book). No, the problem is that people are so impossibly idiotic that they feel intimidated by a t-shirt. And some flight attendant actually listened to those complaints and asked Mullins to remove his t-shirt.
Wait! There's more! According to a Qantas spokesman, the company "does have dress standards for passengers travelling on our aircraft… particularly for slogans which other passengers may find offensive or threatening". So, if I wear a t-shirt with, say, this Roxy Music album cover and someone deems it offensive, am I supposed to take it off? What about this Sex Pistols' F**k Forever t-shirt?
I would rather airlines have rules about clowns who shout rather than talk, people who eat with their mouths open and make such a noise that you can hear their chewing over the sound of the engines, planes that never arrive on time, overbooking and mindless flight attendants.
But that's the sad state of aeroplane travel, folks. Fly people around like cattle while subjecting them to the most capricious and randomly humiliating rules that don't make any sense. From the moment you step into that clusterf**k of nonsense that is the airport security checkpoint — with all their absurd rules, ridicule and body scanners that don't protect anyone at all — to the moment you get out of the gate at the other side of your trip after waiting for 15 minutes on the tarmac.