American Airlines, Cosi's Don't Want You To Watch South Park

Gil was stuck in an American Airlines Admiral’s Club for 5 hours waiting for his flight back to L.A., so he tried to access the South Park website to help pass the time. What he got instead was the screen here, saying that the site had been blocked because it’s considered “tasteless.” We’ve seen the same message at a Cosi restaurant in NYC. Thanks, companies, for protecting our delicate sensibilities! We’re going to go get the vapors now.

Here’s Gil’s account:

I’m stuck in the Admiral’s Club in Narita Airport for another 5 hours in Japan because AA cancelled my flight to LA. To kill time I figured I catch up on my South Park episodes and watch the last few shows. I type in http://www.southparkstudios and settle in for some quality comedy and satire, but then I get the attached message from AA’s network nannies.
Tasteless? Who decided that? What makes this almost sublimely ironic is the picture of the naughty Japanese lady cop they use as an image for the blocking page. They apparently consider that tasteful.
I went through to see what else they block but couldn’t find anything else. Apparently serial killing (Dexter), selling dope (Weeds), trashy evening soaps (Desperate Housewives), and crappy South Park wannabees (Family Guy) are considered acceptable.

Just for the hell of it, we went to the Fortinet website ( and requested a review of their classification on Their drop-down list of possible categories for web content is amusing all by itself—it’s a compendium of Things That People Take Offense At, from abortion to homosexuality to marijuana to tobacco.


Edit Your Comment

  1. aparsons says:

    ha ha. is the 12 year old asian girl dressed in mini skirt on their webpage not tasteles?

  2. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    Now I understand a workplace blocking certain sites (my old company used to block facebook/streaming music/web based email/games/etc) for whatever reason they want, but an airline lounge?

    I don’t get it…

  3. WingZero987 says:

    This wouldn’t have anything to do with their commentary on the airlines in the United States, would it?


  4. thirdbase says:

    It’s their lounge they can block what they want. Get a wireless card from a cell phone company connect thru it then you can watch what you want.
    You can thank the lawyers for this. They don’t want to get sued cause you want to watch something that may affect others around you in the Admirals Club.
    Oh and quit yer bitchen you can make it five hours without South Park!

  5. heavylee-again says:

    While we all may disagree with their decision, it’s their network and they have the right to block anything they want.

  6. azntg says:

    Filtering used in a business workplace, public libraries and primary/secondary schools are understandable, but filtering used in a public place where adults have to have to pay (in some form) to enter sounds unacceptable.

  7. Ryan H says:

    Wouldn’t have mattered anyways. He was in Japan at the time and the South Park site only serves up video to US IP addresses.

    This is why I continue to download my favourite shows, even when they are available for streaming. You never know when you will be without internet or otherwise blocked.

  8. pecheckler says:

    It’s their network and they can filter whatever they want, get over it.

  9. Megatenist says:

    Love the pic.

    Yes,sexy lady.Don’t just TELL me what is tasteless,SHOW me….

  10. Landru says:

    Why are these cranky people here?

  11. WingZero987 says:

    @Landru: It’s because they’re right. It’s AA’s network. They can block whatever they want.

    I still stand by that it’s because of the linked episode that AA blocks the site. They weren’t exactly friendly about how the airline companies took that 15 billion dollar bailout and still fired all their employees.

  12. ByeBye says:

    @WingZero987: Doesn’t matter if it’s their network. The website would have been blocked anyways because Viacom hates non-US ip addresses.

  13. Megatenist says:

    As much as I would like to side with the OP, I have to agree with some of the other posters here.It’s their network.They can block whatever they want.

    Although the OP did hurt his case by dissing Family Guy.Stewie is teh God.

  14. humphrmi says:

    @pecheckler: @WingZero987: It’s their network, but you pay to use it. They have thus taken the role of the ISP. Would you accept your ISP blocking this site?

  15. WingZero987 says:

    @TheManator: That’s missing the point. The argument is on whether or not AA can manage their network however they please while they fail to recognize post-modernism as a legitimate art form hehehe

  16. @WingZero987:

    Is it a conspiracy to hide the truth about airline bailouts?

    Or, did just someone configuring their gateway simply check the box marked “Tasteless” in the list of categories to block in their filter software?

  17. se7a7n7 says:

    “I went through to see what else they block but couldn’t find anything else… and crappy South Park wannabees (Family Guy) are considered acceptable”

    What??!?! How the hell is Family Guy a South Park wannabe? Because it’s animated? That’s about where the similarities end.

    Dude, I felt for you up until that point.

  18. se7a7n7 says:

  19. longcrosse says:

    so I’m guessing that “Education” is on that list for Red State companies that use FortiGuard – I mean, what could be more dangerous to a Red Stater than some some “fancy lurnin’?”

  20. humphrmi says:

    @se7a7n7: LOL perfect post.

  21. synergy says:

    @longcrosse: lol I was just going to wonder who would find child education offensive, but you answered that. ;D

  22. jamar0303 says:

    @thirdbase: cell phone wireless card?
    While this is possible in Japan, it’s by no means cheap. Roaming in costs quite a bit, and rental isn’t much better (something like $.025/kb- if you’re watching video be ready for an enormous bill).

    And it’s friggin’ Narita- find some other access point if you’re that desperate for South Park (the block on non-US IPs is a trivial matter to bypass).

  23. huadpe says:

    @heavylee-again: They have the right to do what they want, but we have the right to ridicule them for it.

    Just because you own something and have the legal right to do what you want does not make you immune from public criticism about it. Particularly if it’s a service you’re selling to the public.

  24. charliux says:

    Yes, like it is AA managing the list of websites you can and cannot visit…

  25. Lucky225 says:

    From the article:

    “What makes this almost sublimely ironic is the picture of the naughty Japanese lady cop they use as an image for the blocking page. They apparently consider that tasteful.”

    I can’t agree more with the op, it was my first thought when I saw the image lol.

  26. While I agree AA can block whatever it wants on their network, deeming SP “tasteless” is quite hilariously subjective. Obviously some bored IT has a sly sense of humor.

  27. nickripley says:

    @huadpe: Post of the day! Thanks!

  28. Lucky225 says:


    X2, finally someone with common sense.

  29. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    Not only that, they are in Japan… JAPAN! Do you realize how over the lien you have to be to be considered “tasteless” in Japan?

  30. richcreamerybutter says:

    “It’s their network, blah blah..”

    That might be an acceptable response at the public library, but I’d expect a little more if paying extra for an “Admiral’s Club” membership.

    I’m torn…while I’d personally be off eating and people watching given the location, I’ll give him credit for his taste in TV.

  31. dirithmir says:

    D@%#! that folklore! If I saw someone googling Paul Bunyan in an Admiral’s Lounge, I think I’d tell airport security that he had a bomb so that he’d get a cavity search! Nothing is more offensive to me than g@$ @#$% FOLKLORE!

  32. Kajj says:

    Haha, one of the blocked categories is “Culture.” Heaven forfend!

  33. WingZero987 says:

    @se7a7n7: I haven’t seen that episode in particular, but I imagine that joke is completely out of context for the plot of the episode because every other joke in FG is.

    The jokes may sometimes be funny and I enjoy it, but it’s still a poorly structured show.

  34. wring says:

    now i wanna be a japanese online ladycop for halloween!

  35. Angryrider says:

    Heh, one time at school I tried to access and the firewall blocked it. At first I thought that they hated liberal bias…

  36. BugMeNot2 says:


    Because Faux news is the shining star of reason in the journalism world…

  37. Arthur says:

    I’m just curious about the notice “…is in violation of your internet usage policy.” Saying ‘your’ makes me think there are some settings somewhere to allow people to block anything they like to block. I’ve never used the computer at AA, but shouldn’t say “…is in violation of our internet usage policy,” if they are the ones blocking it internally?

  38. TechnoDestructo says:


    And it’s your money and if you don’t want to use a network controlled by overbearing censors, then you don’t have to. But the only way to avoid it is to be informed about it.

  39. jnorris441 says:

    “lady cop”…I’m pretty sure that’s a FLIGHT ATTENDENT

  40. satoru says:

    If you’re into web proxies you’ll recognize this as basically a branded version of WebSense. The thing is pretty annoying and while wide swaths of the internet are inexplicably blocked (SourceForge is blocked because it’s ‘freeware’). Other large sites that should fall under certain categories aren’t blocked for some reason.

  41. weakdome says:

    Tasty Flight Attendant thinks South Park is Tasteless.

  42. GothamGal says:

    Try I was just in Paris and watched streaming episodes of South Park.

    I don’t understand why others would consider it offensive. He’s not projecting it up on a wall. He’s probably watching it with headphones on.

    That image is so ironic. Somehow it makes me want to puke.

  43. Lacclolith says:

    That’s because South Park is tasteless.

  44. ClankBoomSteam says:

    You know, they can block whatever they like on their own network — it’s theirs, so they’re well within their rights to go nuts, blocking anything they take offense at. However, I think the more important issue here isn’t whether they have a right to block content, but the antiquated, puritanical attitudes that lead them to think it’s important that they do so. People who think it’s worth it to ‘protect’ others from ‘tasteless’ content really need to grow up.

  45. jamesdenver says:

    Here’s a slightly different situation. Denver’s airport just started offering free wi-fi. However many sights considered objectionable are blocked.

    The airport, just like the library, was paid with the public’s taxes and sustained by the public’s fees. Why should THEY say what sites should be blocked?

    Meanwhile, as some said in local news articles, Playboy and Penthouse are sold in the city run concessions and stores at the airport.

  46. pecheckler says:

    where does it say he paid for this service? I missed that.
    if your are paying for Internet access it should be explicitly defined what is filtered in a legal agreement.

    If this service is provided free of charge than i stand by my original statement.

  47. theBIG says:

    Just a note to everyone.

    If you run into this problem somewhere, try viewing the page through google translate. Its a really simple version of a proxy. You can get past a lot of filters using that method.

  48. elephantattack says:

    south park = teh evil

    scantily clad Asian Chick on website declaring thusly = fine with them…

    well, I’m confused.

  49. DeafLEGO says:

    In a few weeks, this is going to be on South Park and they are going to screw AA for being such dweebs.

  50. tedyc03 says:

    Tech-savvy travelers might consider using a proxy server. I use a VPN connection to my home server when I travel.

  51. drjayphd says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: See, everything was fine until the pubes came out.

    And Panera used to block Deadspin through their Wi-Fi. Although I lodged a protest, and it’s since been lifted. Funny how they didn’t block the other blogs in the Five Percent Nation of Gawker that I checked (and no, Fleshbot wasn’t one of ’em)…

  52. KRF says:

    While the airline may be utilizing the software, there is a chance that they may not be the ones that requested for South Park to be blocked. A number of these filtering packages work based on updates – this may be based on default settings provided by Fortiguard.

    While not a great example, my office uses SmartFilter – we get our updates for the filter on a regular basis. There was a site that was blocked one week, then unblocked the next, based on a request made directly to SmartFilter.

    Additionally, is it possible that they use the same filtering software for their wireless access as they do for their employee machines? It may be more convenient and cost effective to use the same thing on both networks, even if it does mean that someone is going to be upset that they cannot access a site.

  53. shikaningen says:

    You people just do NOT get it, do you?

    Yes, indeed, they can do what they want. It’s THEIR network.

    That is not the purpose of this freaking website, though. The purpose of it is to encourage business to improve by encouraging the consumer to not to patronize businesses that don’t offer acceptable service.

    You all complain that Comcast is a shitty company, but your complaints aren’t directed at illegal activity for the most part. Comcast can fail to arrive at the indicated times and dates, all it wants to. There’s nothing illegal, as far as I know, about not keeping appointments. However, this is – legal though it might be – extremely disrespectful and onerous for the consumer and when they have a choice, the consumer should be encouraged not to use Comcast, so long as it keeps this shit up and is the least advantageous choice.

    If American Airlines intends not to allow a person to access the sites that he desires – so long as he’s not making lewd bawdy material available to minors – then I fail to see a reason to encourage anyone to use AA or a reason to spare them the bad publicity.

    But, yes, I agree, they have the right to do this, but that is so so so so so very irrelevant.

  54. Btw did anyone have a look at the list why websites can be blocked ? If anyone would take this list seriously … they can block the whole internet cause there is always something …

    Other than that : Yes its legal, doesnt mean its ok.

  55. mr.dandy says:

    I like how they phrase it, “…website is in violation of YOUR usage policy”.

    They assert that you knowingly agreed to their policy, and are willfully trying to violate it! Gotta love that implied consent.

  56. barty says:

    @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: Its probably behind the same content filter that the corporate internet access goes through. So its probably not some conspiracy to limit access, but rather AA not wanting to spend any more money than absolutely required to provide internet access to these club rooms.

    There again, they could have gotten complaints about someone going to porn sites in plain view of other people waiting there and decided to put the content filter in place to avoid further complaints. Sometimes the best policy is just to block that kind of stuff out, than having to deal with lost business from what used to be a loyal customer.

  57. TVarmy says:

    I think they’re just trying to play it safe by putting up a broad internet filter so people don’t look at porn where others can see it. I guess if he were committed enough, he could have gone through a proxy, which he’d need anyway to see South Park outside of the US.

    Whenever I go to the airport, I just find the nearest pay internet hotspot, and then figure out how the ad pages structure their URLs. Then, I just type in the site I want as though it were an ad. Amazingly, it works perfectly. I can watch youtube videos and everything.

  58. Amy Alkon000 says:

    I just stayed at a Hilton in Manchester, New Hampshire, where my own site, was blocked. I’m a newspaper columnist in papers across the country. Their problem? The word “pedophilia,” which I was not using to advertise to kiddie diddlers, but to criticize the Catholic church for protecting molester priests.

    I do have mobile broadband, but I was waiting for a friend and using the hotel’s business room computers.

  59. heavylee-again says:

    Nowhere does this post say that he paid to access the network. He was given free network access.

  60. GearheadGeek says:

    The assertion that he paid to use the internet service in the AAdmiral’s Club should be that he INDIRECTLY paid. To use the AAdmiral’s club you have to either be a member, pay a daily-use fee or buy a business-class or higher ticket for your flight that day. No direct fees for the internet service, but direct or indirect fees paid to use the AAdmiral’s Club which offered the service.

  61. GearheadGeek says:

    @Amy Alkon: Websense is amazingly moronic in their filtering. There’s little or no sense of context, and since they’re a private company selling their “service” mostly to people who would err on the conservative sides (executives) rather than the somewhat more libertarian geek professionals, no one really calls them on it who has the ability to directly drop their service. My employer used to use their service but has discontinued it because of the number of false positives.

  62. jenl1625 says:

    @Redwraithvienna:On the “there’s always some reason to block a website” note . . . . One time, my mom had emergency surgery at 10p.m. the night of some statewide elections. I wanted to see the outcome of some of the elections, and the hospital’s surgical waiting room had some computers with internet access. So I go and pull up the state’s *Secretary of State* website – or, at least, I tried to. It was blocked!

    Happened to know the hospitals VP for yadda yadda, because he was a member of a committee I took minutes for, etc. Mentioned it to him, and he was pretty surprised. Then he thought about it, and said that the company they hired to do filtering had a tendency to block every single website that had any kind of streaming video whatsoever. I suggested that he might pass on to them that something ending in “.gov” was probably safe for the kiddies.

    Fortunately, have had no need to sit in that waiting room since, so I don’t know if it’s still an issue.

  63. SayAhh says:

    I wonder if anybody Googling Paris Hilton would be welcomed by the same disclaimer… Zing!

  64. @jenl1625:

    hehe clever … and i kinda doubt that it was solved :)

    funny thing is … i never had this problem in europa (where i live, work, and travel most).

    Maybe i was just lucky or dont surf the “forbidden” sites … (although i know me and i really doubt that).

    Probably a cultural thing again …. funny though.

  65. vladthepaler says:

    That short skirt isn’t tasteless at all. (It’d be a different matter if she were a cartoon.)

  66. MrEvil says:

    @TheManator: You mean the WGA hates non US IP Addresses. That was what the whole writer’s strike was about. The agreement the studios came to with the WGA (Writers Guild of America) was that any streamed episodes of shows could only be streamed to American IP Addresses, which is asinine I know since you can torrent almost as easily if you’re on your own system on public Wi-Fi anywhere in the world.

    Still, the PC he was accessing the site on was AA’s machine on AA’s network, they make the rules.

  67. LorraineCrispin says:

    Just be thankful it wasn’t Southwest Airlines! The way they treat
    passengers, the only web site that would be allowed would be the
    Amish Network.