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,

“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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