A British airline has apologized after threatening to eject a 21-year-old passenger over what a cabin crew deemed “inappropriate attire” that she was told “caused offense.”
Emily O’Connor, who was traveling on a Thomas Cook Airlines flight from Birmingham Airport in Britain to the Canary Islands early this month, asked fellow passengers on the plane if they were offended by her clothing when she was confronted by the cabin crew. No one said yes, CNN reported. She was wearing high-waisted pants and a cropped top with spaghetti straps.
“It was so mortifying,” the British woman told Yahoo UK. “I was so upset. They could clearly see that, yet they continued to note how inappropriate and offensive I was. I was really close to crying.” O’Connor said she was further humiliated when the incident was announced on the plane’s speakers.
She was finally allowed to stay when a cousin sitting elsewhere on the plane gave her a jacket to wear.
O’Connor said Thursday on British TV that she wasn’t wearing a jacket when she boarded the plane because “I was hot, which is what I said to them.” She also noted that a man wearing just a vest and shorts on the plane was not challenged by the cabin crew.
A Thomas Cook representative has reportedly reached out to O’Connor to apologize but also insisted the airline’s “appropriate attire” policy applies to everyone.
“We are sorry that we upset Ms. O’Connor,” the airline said in a statement to Yahoo. “It’s clear we could have handled the situation better.”
The “appropriate attire policy” applies “equally” to men and women of all ages, the statement insisted. “Our crews have the difficult task of implementing that policy and don’t always get it right.”
Several people responding to O’Connor’s Twitter posts defended her, and some who said they worked for the airline noted that men wearing far less have not been confronted.
The appropriate attire policy doesn’t appear to be listed anywhere on the airline’s website. What does exist in the airline’s in-flight magazine is extremely short on details. “Customers wearing inappropriate attire (including items with offensive slogans or images) will not be permitted to travel until a change of clothes is possible,” the policy states. “Footwear must be worn on the aircraft.”