Just when you thought the hoverboard kerfuffle had played itself out, no less a media heavyweight than Russell Crowe has launched the issue back into the headlines.
Apparently unaware of the wide-ranging ban on transporting hoverboards on commercial aircraft, Crowe was outraged when a Virgin Australia check-in agent informed the actor that his kids’ boards couldn’t be accommodated on the flight. The actor vented thusly on @russellcrowe: “Ridiculous @VirginAustralia. No Segway boards as luggage? Too late to tell us at airport. Kids and I offloaded. Goodbye Virgin. Never again.”
A lengthy Twitter thread ensues, with Virgin Australia apologizing but also pointing out 1) that hoverboards are included on the airline’s banned items list, and 2) that all Australian airlines, and most other major airlines as well, have similar restrictions in place.
Crowe has a reputation as a self-entitled loose cannon, so this latest outburst is no surprise. But that doesn’t automatically invalidate his complaint. Based on his initial Tweet, the actor isn’t questioning the legitimacy of the ban — which is based on documented instances of hoverboards’ self-igniting — but on the airline’s failure to adequately communicate the ban to its customers.
As for Virgin Australia’s banned-substance list, that may give the airline legal cover in the event that disgruntled travelers take their complaints to court. But the moral ground is considerably less solid. Because, really, how many air travelers are fully aware of the terms and conditions associated with their tickets? Very few, if any.
Although it lacks legal heft, the airline’s suggestion that Crowe should have been aware of the hoverbaord ban because it’s a global phenomenon that has received massive media attention may be a stronger defense in the court of popular opinion. My first reaction on hearing of the incident, indeed, was, Really, he was unaware of the hoverboard flap? How is that possible?
In the end, this may be a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Crowe’s rant doesn’t change anything: The airline’s policies and procedures remain unchanged, and Crowe’s reputation for dramatic flare-ups is undiminished. What remains to be seen is which airline Russell Crowe will fly next, since no airline is likely to have a different policy, or communicate it more effectively.
Reader Reality Check
You do know that most airlines have banned hoverboards, right?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.