by J Webber / SLF
Most travelers say people wearing ‘inappropriate’ clothes shouldn’t be allowed to fly. After outrage surrounding an incident on a United Airlines flight – there is little sympathy for sloppy dressers. Outrage and cries of sexism ensued in March 2017 when two young girls were deemed unfit to board a United Airlines flight due to their outfits — specifically the skin tight yoga pants they were wearing. At the time, public figures including model and actress Chrissy Teigen and Academy Award-winner and equal pay advocate Patricia Arquette criticized the airline for targeting the young girls, and others called the dress code sexist.
But 80% of travelers said airlines should be allowed to do this, according to a survey of 1,800 travelers from Airfarewatchdog, a 30% increase since last year. The survey didn’t specify what it meant by “inappropriate” but it “leaves a lot of room to the imagination. “I flew recently in Europe where a young woman had an obscene phrase printed on her T-shirt and no one said or did anything, so this sort of thing does happen and most people look the other way,” frequent traveler Shawn L Fitzpatrick said.
United Airlines previously stood by the gate agent’s decision to refuse the passengers, saying the young women were United Pass Travelers – meaning they were friends or family of a United employee flying for free and had to comply with the complimentary pass’s dress code. That code states such travelers should be “well-groomed, neat, clean and in good taste.” Others though aren’t convinced this is fair. “Appropriate’ travel wear shouldn’t be determined at the whim of a gate agent, for one, and even where dress codes are required for whatever reasons, children should certainly be considered differently than adults,” said Tara Donaldson, a blogger at Living with the Travel Bug.
However, many airlines have similar Dress Codes for people flying as Standby passengers or on complimentary Passes. Alaska Airlines and American Airlines both suggest “business casual attire” for Buddy Pass holders. Delta Air Lines says it has a “relaxed code” for Pass Riders, “but that doesn’t mean a sloppy appearance is acceptable.” It forbids unclean, revealing, or lewd clothing. Jet Blue has a more strict dress code and requires travelers using its Buddy Pass system to cover tattoos and remove piercings before flying.
“While it would be splendid to bring some decorum back to air travel, the question remains: who or what decides what ‘appropriate’ is, and do airlines spell out specifically enough in their rules what is and isn’t acceptable?” Airfarewatchdog president George Hobica said. “That said, more of our respondents than ever agree that something needs to be done to keep passengers from crossing a line.”
The airline experience is getting more expensive and more uncomfortable, but while you can dress to offset this discomfort, make sure your look is appropriate – or you won’t be getting much sympathy from fellow travelers. Flip flops, skin-bearing T-shirts, daisy duke extra short shorts and spandex are frowned upon. You sure wouldn’t want your child seated beside someone wearing daisy dukes with everything showing or someone braless in a loose sleeveless shirt that shows significant side-boob.
Reichelle W Montenegro, a frequent international long-haul business traveler and executive platinum high-mileage member on One World Qantas American Air Alliance, is one such traveler. She spends easily half of her year on the road and said she has a tried-and-true travel uniform – one that often includes loose pants. At first she was also angry at United’s decision. However, when she heard the girls who were reprimanded for their outfits were guests of the airline flying on complimentary passes, she revised her opinion. “I am not about traveling in style – I travel for comfort, especially after 14 hour work days abroad and long trade conventions in different cities,” she said. “But if I had a free ticket, and I had this free ticket with certain conditions, I would make sure to read the rules and follow the conditions. And to not complain about not getting on a plane for breaking the free ticket rules.”
“Do not go where the path leads, travel instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” @wbbrjp