During a recent American Airlines flight, crew member asked Swati Runi Goyal, 49, to get her things and follow him to the front of the plane during her October 30 flight from Florida to Nevada.
She thought she was getting upgraded to first class, but instead she was told she had to either change her shirt or get kicked off the plane — all because the one she was wearing said “Hail Satan.”
“He said, ‘Our crew has found your shirt to be offensive.’ We initially just thought it was a joke,” she said. “But he repeated the directive, and there was another female crew member who was behind him with her arms crossed looking very angry.”
“The man said, ‘Your shirt is offensive. Do you know what that means?’ I said, ‘I’m a foreign-born minority woman, I understand ‘offensive,’ and this shirt is not offensive.’”
Goyal is a member of the Satanic Temple and bought the shirt to support the organization. Though it is a recognized church, the Satanic Temple is a non-theistic (and non-Satan-worshipping) religious organization.
She refused to get off the plane or to change her shirt, which resulted in flight getting delayed and a customer service agent was brought on board to reinforce the airline’s official policy, which says that passengers are required to “dress appropriately” and avoid “offensive clothing” while leaving the definitions of those terms to the discretion of the flight crew.
Goyal eventually relented and covered up her shirt with a layer lent by her husband. Still, she said the crew avoided eye contact with her for the remainder of the flight, even ignoring her when the drink cart came around.
She added: “I’m just an ordinary-looking person. I’m not goth. I don’t have piercings. I wasn’t wearing a shirt that had a goat being beheaded on it. [I was] wearing L.L.Bean hiking pants and vegan sneakers. I mean, I couldn’t look like more of a nerd.”