Swati Runi Goyal

Woman In 'Hail Satan' Shirt Forced To Either Change Or Get Off Plane

Until it happens to you, it's hard to appreciate how infuriating it can be when someone treats you to their unsolicited moral judgments of you when you're just trying to go about your day.

I experienced this last year while grabbing some breakfast with my family at a time where I happened to be wearing a New Pornographers shirt. For those unfamiliar with the band, their name is the closest they get to being offensive.

Nonetheless, some self-proclaimed spiritual leader proceeded to tell me how much he didn't approve of my shirt and how Christian I need to be in his estimation. I'm not sure I've ever struggled for a way to politely tell someone to go away as hard as I did that day.

But as one woman's experience with an American Airlines flight demonstrates, something as inconsequential as a shirt doesn't just run afoul of random street preachers, but potentially the policies of entire airlines.

On October 30, 49-year-old Swati Runi Goyal of Key West, Florida was embarking on a flight to Las Vegas with her husband, Walter.

Twitter | @RuniGoyal

As Buzzfeed News reported, Goyal was comfortably reading a magazine after their first flight was rerouted through Miami.

And so, when an American Airlines crew member told her to gather her belongings and join him at the front of the plane, she thought she was getting upgraded to first class.

Instead, this man warned Goyal that she was in danger of being ejected from the flight.

Swati Runi Goyal

The reason for this was the shirt pictured here, which you can see reads "Hail Satan." The flight crew said they found it to be offensive.

As Goyal told Buzzfeed News, "We initially just thought it was a joke. But he repeated the directive, and there was another female crew member who was behind him with her arms crossed looking very angry."

It is worth noting at this point that Goyal does not actually worship Satan.

Reddit | Sardonnicus

Instead, she is a member of an organization called The Satanic Temple.

Despite the name and despite the fact that the U.S. Government recognizes them as a church, they are a non-theistic organization.

For her part, Gowal identifies as an atheist.

Reddit | Im_A_Viking

And this is not unusual among members of the Satanic Temple.

According to Insider, they began as an ironic means of protesting the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and remain activists supporting free speech, the separation of church and state, and religious freedom.

However, none of this necessarily matters when it comes to the policies of American Airlines.

Reddit | Innersmoke

According to Buzzfeed News, American Airlines requires passengers to "dress appropriately" and avoid "offensive clothing," but doesn't actually state what constitutes offensive clothing.

In other words, it's left up to individual flight crews to determine what is and isn't offensive.

When confronted with this policy, Goyal and her husband made it clear that they weren't getting off the plane.

Facebook | Surain Adyanthaya

Goyal said, "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 had never experienced a response like this to her shirt before and has traveled on planes wearing it without issue in the past.

Reddit | [deleted]

As she said, "It’s an ironic shirt. People usually laugh at it, or they give me a thumbs up because they understand the meaning behind it."

In any case, because the crew wouldn't budge, her choice was either to change clothes or exit the plane.

Facebook | Surain Adyanthaya

Since her husband was wearing multiple layers, he lent her something to cover her shirt and Goyal remained on the flight.

Despite this, the crew avoided eye contact with her for the rest of the flight and the attendant working the drink cart passed her over.

Although the experience humiliated Goyal, she said she was more concerned about how this American Airlines policy could be used to target members of other religions.

Reddit | likwitsnake

Unfortunately, it seems as though Goyal's concerns are not unfounded, as Buzzfeed News referred to two different incidents in which Muslim passengers were ejected from a plane because an American Airlines crew member felt "uncomfortable" or "threatened" by their presence.

With these concerns in mind, Goyal emailed American Airlines in reference to her incident.

Reddit | MarcosD260

Although a representative said, "flight attendants will be reminded of the importance of courtesy and professionalism in the face of a sensitive situation," they also stood by the policy.

It wasn't until Goyal tweeted about the incident, however, that the airline actually apologized, stating, "Discrimination has no place at American Airlines."

Reddit | PandaEatsRage

They also said they reached out to Goyal, who confirmed that they offered to refund her tickets.

h/t: Buzzfeed News