American Airlines Forces Doctor To Cover Up With A Blanket

American Airlines have come under fire this week for an incident involving a passenger’s outfit. Dr. Latisha Rowe was traveling from Kingston to Miami aboard American Airlines flight 2370 on the 1st July when she was threatened with not being allowed to fly unless she covered up.

American airlines tail-fin night shot
American Airlines flight attendants said her outfit was ‘inappropriate’. Photo: American Airlines

What happened?

According to the Independent, the passenger, Dr. Latisha (Tisha) Rowe, was boarding the flight and ready to take her seat when a flight attendant asked her to come to the front of the aircraft. She and her eight year old son were escorted off the plane and onto the jetbridge, where she was asked if she had a jacket.

Having said she did not, the flight attendant explained that she would need to cover herself up as the crew found her attire inappropriate. In fact, she was told she would not be allowed back on the plane unless she changed or put a blanket over herself to cover up.

After donning the blanket, she was told by a different flight attendant not to make a scene. Dr. Rowe maintains she was being as calm as possible to avoid escalating the situation in front of her son. Speaking to Business Insider, she said,

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“I said, ‘I’ve complied with your request, please let me on the plane.’ Three times I had to say that before they actually let me on the plane. Three times that I did not argue with them, fuss with them, and had a blanket wrapped around before they parted their physical barrier to let me on the plane.”

As seems to be customary these days when experiencing an issue with airlines, the passenger took to Twitter to share her grumble.

Was the passenger inappropriately dressed?

To be fair the passenger, she was returning from a holiday in Jamaica (a hot place) to Miami, Florida (also a hot place) where it makes sense to dress light to avoid overheating. While some might baulk at the thought of skin to skin contact on a flight, we can all probably remember times when far less dressed people have been flying with us.

Here’s what she was wearing in full color:


It’s a romper, and yes, it’s strapless. It’s quite short, but everything is covered. In terms of the airline’s policy, American Airlines’ contract of carriage states,

“Dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed.”

While that doesn’t really clear things up in terms of whether her outfit was inappropriate or not, my personal opinion is that this outfit was fine. Whether the top had slipped down or the shorts had ridden up I don’t know, but clearly the FAs weren’t happy with her attire.

Racist and body shaming

Numerous commentators have raised the notion that perhaps if she was white, it wouldn’t have been an issue. Added to this, some have said that if she was a skinny size 2 then it wouldn’t have happened.

The passenger herself alluded to her treatment being because of her race, and because she doesn’t ‘fit the mold’ of the typical skinny white girl.


In an interview with Business Insider, she said,

“I have a very curvaceous body, and I put my body in bold colors, so you’re going to see it. But it’s not vulgar. It’s not inappropriate. It’s not bad, you know? If you put someone who’s a size 2 in the exact same outfit next to me, no one would be bothered,”

What did American Airlines say?

It’s clear from the original tweet that American Airlines tried to get in touch with the passenger within minutes of her posting up her story. Judging by the number of public comments they made on her post, not to mention the direct messages they referred to, they tried very hard to get in touch with Dr. Rowe.


Simple Flying reached out to American Airlines for comment, and their spokesperson Shannon Gilson provided us with the following statement:

“We were concerned about Dr. Rowe’s comments, and reached out to her and our team at the Kingston airport to gather more information about what occurred. We apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience, and have fully refunded their travel.  We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.”

At the risk of rocking the boat, it seems American Airlines have done pretty much all they can to rectify the mistake. While the entire situation should never have happened, sometimes mistakes do occur, no matter what industry or business you are in. However, the downside for airlines today is that every passenger has a phone and is seeking their five minutes of fame.

Was it racism? Body shaming? Or just an overzealous flight attendant seeking to uphold some misinterpreted company policy? We’ll probably never know, but what we have to keep in mind is that, without the Twittersphere, none of us would be any the wiser. Clearly, AA operate hundreds of flights a day without this type of incident happening, so it can only be assumed that there is no great culture of discrimination going on here; just an honest mistake.

However, there was that time they fat shamed a dog

What do you think? Was she discriminated against? Was her outfit inappropriate? Let us know in the comments.

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14 comments
  1. Her outfit was totally inappropriate,especially as a MD.Even as it’s cold in the plane,I wonder not to freeze inside like that.It doesn’t matter,whether black or white..I’m white and would never have travelled like that.And no matter,whether it’s hot in Jamaica or Miami,as I can change clothes on the airport.The higher the social level,the more s.o.has to dress accordingly,and even to educate her son like that!!

  2. American Airlines have nothing to apologise for and: @tisharowemd ought to be thoroughly ashamed of herself playing the race card. ?She was inappropriately dressed for travel and while :she is free to dress as she likes, she is not free to offend other people’s sensibilities. What race-shaming? I certainly wouldn’t be seen dead travelling with anyone dressed like that! By the way I am black – 100% African.

    Peter Mpande (@tweemp)
    Ndola Zambia

  3. Sorry to be blunt, but I think she’s dressed like something that would jump out of a cake at a bachelor party in a trailer park! She got treated accordingly.

  4. On a Kingston, Jamaica, to Miami flight, the AA ‘crew’ found a women wearing a strapless playsuit ‘offensive’ … well, a sign of the current times. Those lucky enough to be flying 50 years ago recall the iconic and fun hot pants, form-fitting mini-skirts and tops that grabbed the flying public’s attention in the 1970s, which was the offical flight attendant uniform of some airlines, Southwest comes to mind.

  5. When I started flying long before deregulation people dressed up to fly. The boorish behavior so often seen today, people undressing, sticking their bare feet in the air not to mention temper tantrums to psychotic break downs basically didn’t happen. Of course flying today is the equivalent of taking a Greyhound bus unless you can afford to sit in the front. I’ve been fortunate a good number of times but times change and now I travel coach. Not such a chore within the country but not quite so pleasant across the pond when I traveled to Europe frequently. Times change, so do standards. In this case, even considering the times, she was kind of pushing the limits. Considering she was apparently a professional and because of that I would expect a little more upscale in her attire. The article doesn’t say what class she was flying as that can be a factor as well. At least it seems she responded in a tactful professional way and I imagine AA has attempted to reach out to her. I’ve flown AA only twice in my life and neither were great experiences. I, except for the early years, stuck to Delta and always had a good experience. Just my opinion after flying for 49 years. No offense towards anyone is intended and just my observation only.

  6. C’mon what’s inappropriate about this outfit? It’s just a normal outfit. The way airline treated the passenger is just rude and bigot.

    1. We can call it an assault on the dress code, according to the Christian Evangelistic religions lock on the code of this country. Those who approve of AA’s role are part of this regime which will get tRump re-elected and I for one won’t fly AA of United. Welcome to Amerikka, a repeat of Germany in 1938.

  7. To me the question is: What does “Inappropriate” really mean? It sounds a bit like the fashion police being overzealous.

    She was with a child. Surely, if the child wasn’t shocked and horrified, why should an adult. After all, nudity (and this was not even close) is more a child protection issue than anything else.

    As a Brit, who travels with airlines of several different flags, to be honest, in recent times, I’ve found that US airlines, both on the ground and in the air, have become more petty, more rules than passenger focussed and less polite. Quite often: too much power and not enough training.

    I think the flight attendant had a prudish, power-trip rush of blood and indignation, and needs to be disciplined. Why she felt this indignation, (race, gender protectionism, headache, argument with best friend) are all irrelevant. S/he treated a customer badly. S/he upset a small child unnecessarily. S/he showed a lack of courtesy and used threats.

    When did paying customers become subservient to paid employees?

  8. Maybe the summer is too warm and hot for her. It’s a bit too short. Please dress appropriately next time though.
    Airlines cabin crew can say anything though. Luckily this doctor has a lot of patience and don’t want to make a fuss or scene.

  9. I do notice more worse dress codes in the airports and still figuring if all those people get questioned…..For me this is better than what I have seen

  10. What is the fuss about. She was dressed in a summer outfit, not “exposing” anything too much. She would walk down any street or go in any restaurant or store dressed in that outfit and no one would say a thing. AA did well to address this non issue the way they did.

  11. There was a day, in more less-authoritarian, happy, care-free days, when Southwest and PSA flight attendants had more to potentially cover up with their uniforms. Oh! What a sad world we live in.

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