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It’s becoming more and more common to hear of disruptions at the airport and on airplanes. I don’t know if it’s just a general increase in travel, gate agents and flight attendants flexing power or just stress of traveling. Whenever we hear of celebrities, or “celebrities” or even regular people broadcasting their troubles online, I try to remember that there are two sides to every story. It’s only human nature to paint yourself in the best possible light when telling a story, especially when you are trying to engender sympathy for your cause.

(SEE ALSO: A Gate Agent Threatens to Sue a Passenger (only on Spirit, amirite?))

The latest story involves actor Marlon Wayans being denied boarding by United Airlines when flying from Denver to Kansas City for a show.

Marlon Wayans Denied Boarding In Denver

According to TMZ and Yahoo News, Marlon Wayans was flying United from Denver to Kansas City when he had an issue with a United gate agent. It seems that he was flying with 2 carryons when the gate agent made him consolidate down to 1 carryon. Then the agent told him his carryon was too big and he would have to check it. Marlon then allegedly slammed his ticket down on the counter and went down the jetbridge anyways. The police were called and issued him a citation for disturbing the peace.

Perhaps he should have been glad he wasn’t trying to walk naked in his hotel room, where the Denver police could have arrested him!


In a later Instagram post, the actor says that he has flown 15,000,000 miles (!) and felt like he was being disrespected and the target of racism and/or classism.

United’s Response

A United spokesperson reported, “In Denver on Friday, a customer who had been told he would have to gate-check his bag instead pushed past a United employee at the jetbridge and attempted to board the aircraft. The customer won’t be flying on United to his destination.”

a person holding a stack of luggage

My Take on Marlon Wayans Being Denied Boarding

So first of all, I want to stress that we don’t know exactly what happened here, and I think that there are a few readings of the situation that you could have, including both situations where Marlon Wayans was totally in the right and others where the United gate agent was correct.

First of all, if the gate agent was having him “consolidate” his bags, that to me is a clear indicator that he was trying to board the plane with more than just 1 carryon and 1 personal item. While I think there is some leeway here as to what “counts” as a carryon or personal item, depending on the gate agent, it is pretty clear across all airlines that you can’t board with more than that.

After that, he said that the gate agent said his bag was “too big”. It’s not clear what happened here. I don’t know exactly what kind of plane United flies between Denver and Kansas City, but I could totally buy if it was a smaller regional jet, that doesn’t accommodate larger carryons. So perhaps he was being asked to gate check his carryon? Or it’s also possible that due to the delay in him having to consolidate his baggage that the overhead bin space filled up and he was then having to “regular” check his bags?

In either case, losing your temper is never going to work in this situation. Right or wrong, gate agents and flight attendants seem to have unlimited power here and while that may be annoying or frustrating, if you want to make it to your destination, you’re going to have to follow the rules.

The Bottom Line

Actor Marlon Wayans was denied boarding when attempting to fly United Airlines from Denver to Kansas City. While it’s still not 100% clear what exactly happened, it appears that he was upset about being forced to consolidate his carryon bags and then gate-check his bag. He was detained by the Denver Police department and issued a citation for disturbing the peace.

What do you think of this situation with Marlon Wayans being denied boarding on United? Leave your (respectful!) thoughts in the comments below

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