Published September 13, 2007
DALLAS – Have airline employees replaced high school deans as the arbiters of appropriate dress, or have skimpily-clad passengers forced flight attendants to act like Mother?
A second young woman has come forward to claim that Southwest Airlines Co. employees made her cover up on a recent flight.
Setara Qassim told KNBC-TV in Los Angeles that a flight attendant confronted her during the trip from Tucson, Ariz., to Burbank, Calif., and asked if she had a sweater to go over her green halter-style dress.
Qassim, 21, said she was forced to wrap a blanket around herself for the rest of the flight. She complained that if Southwest wants passengers to dress a certain way, it should publish a dress code.
Last week, 23-year-old Kyla Ebbert said a Southwest employee pulled her aside as she was preparing to board a plane departing San Diego for Tucson in July and told her she was dressed too provocatively to fly on the plane.
Ebbert, who took her case to NBC's "Today Show," said she was allowed on the plane, but only after adjusting her sweater and short skirt. She said she was humiliated and felt the stares of other passengers who had overheard the verbal dressing-down.
Southwest acknowledged the incident involving Ebbert, but airline spokesman Chris Mainz said the company had no record that Qassim ever complained.
Messages left with Qassim, who lives in southern California, were not immediately returned to The Associated Press.
Mainz said Dallas-based Southwest — which dressed its stewardesses in hot pants and called itself "the love airline" back in the 1970s — relies on employees to decide if a passenger's attire may offend other customers.
"We don't have a dress code. We rely on our employees to use common sense, good judgment and good taste," Mainz said. "It's so rare for us to have to address a customer's clothing issue."
American Airlines claims the right to refuse to carry passengers for a variety of reasons including being drunk, barefoot, having an offensive odor or being "clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offense to other passengers."
"It's generally a graphic on a T-shirt that might be uncomfortable" to another passenger, said American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner. "We always find ways to mitigate it as best possible, with not allowing someone on a flight being the last option."
David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, the trade group of the major U.S. airlines, said he didn't know of any airline having a dress code.
Lynda White, who teaches etiquette classes and calls herself "The First Lady of Manners," said many young people have gotten lax on what to wear and how to act — possibly influenced by Hollywood stars. She recommends "business-casual" outfits for the plane because you might be seated next to a potential employer or business contact.
"If you wear provocative clothing, tattoos, or you smell of alcohol or cigarettes, who's going to believe you?" she said.