American Airlines Passenger Told to Wear a Blanket or Else She Couldn’t Fly

When I was young my mother used to make me dress up to fly. It was just after deregulation and I wore a tie on the plane when I was 6 or 8 years old. Flying has become much more small-d democratic. Social norms have changed a great deal. Now most anything goes.

Passengers flying to and from holiday may be especially shocking in what they wear. People know they’re going to a warm weather destination and they’re in beachwear on the flight out of Chicago in the winter. And after a week in the tropics the last thing they’re going to do is put on heavier clothes before leaving the resort to board a plane to go home.

Even flying into conservative Muslim countries like the Maldives I see Russians and Americans wearing what they plan to wear on the beach. The Male airport, just outside the capital, isn’t the beach.

So it doesn’t surprise me at all what a doctor was wearing when American Airlines told her if she didn’t cover up she wouldn’t be able to fly from Jamaica to Miami.

The doctor, a family medicine specialist, was forced to get off the flight with her 8 year old son. Since she didn’t have a jacket in her carry on bag to cover up with, she was told she had to use an airline blanket. (American has told me that they do clean the blankets.)

However she doesn’t think there was anything wrong with her outfit.

Growing up, I lived in a very conservative household. Like, if my dad thought my shorts were too short, I was not leaving the house. So that’s just something that I’ve gotten into the habit of doing.

…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,.

Here’s what she was wearing.

She says she was also warned ‘not to make a scene’ and tweeted that her son was embarrassed by the incident.

According to American Airlines, they apologize and have refunded the tickets for this woman and her son. They “are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.”

This isn’t an incident of too sexy to fly as we sometimes see but more of flight attendants not feeling resort wear departing a resort destination – for Miami of all places – is appropriate in the skies.

And in a post-9/11 world passengers have to strictly follow instructions, reasonable or not, or else they won’t be able to travel … at best.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If they are comfortable looking that way in public that’s on them. Assuming that she is not naked these FAs really need to start minding their own business and knock it off with the power trips. Other passengers are going to be offended in the 2 seconds it takes for her to walk by their seat? GTFOH

  2. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    My understanding is that a man or a woman has the right to be topless in public in the United States. People passing by might misbehave, stare or whatever but the law is the law.

    I am offended by the immediate AA apology that states “are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds “, making it sound as though a caucasian would not have warranted the same apology.

  3. By “are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds,” I assume they meant that doctors are ok on their planes.

  4. This is ABSOLUTELY ridiculous! Yes, it is RACIST and a form of fat shaming as well. What she means if she were a size 2 white girl, no one would have noticed, FA’s in particular…but because some skinny FA thought she had too much size to be wearing this outfit (a matter of personal taste) she got an attitude and shamed this woman and her child. Southwest has been on that bull$hit for a while now too with FA’s telling girls & women to cover up in places like FL, AZ, CA, etc where it is hot as hell….Jamaica is HOT, Miami is HOT!
    I can’t say I blame her for wearing this outfit considering that those planes are damned hot too! I’d have just had to have them re-issue my tickets right there because I sure as HELL wouldn’t have put on a damned BLANKET of all things in SUMMER in FL and IN Jamaica! I hope she sues them if it is at all possible and hope those fa/s are FIRED! Where is just plain common sense anymore? You’re flying from somewhere where the temp is 90+ degrees and going to a similar climate, YES, people wear shorts, tube tops, tank tops, flip flops, sandals, etc. HAS ANYONE SEEN THE AA Vacations advertisements for all those beach locations? They’re not wearing Parkas in them! That’s bunch of hateful women there that just don’t like their jobs or customers.

  5. I’m more concerned with what’s on the floor in the side view picture.

  6. I think tank tops that some overweight men wear are a lot more offense that what this lady is wearing. Start with them first.

  7. FAs are there “primarily for our safety,” and whatever else might be said the outfit is not unsafe nor out of place either in Jamaica or Miami.

    Unfortunately some think their job is to exercise power, and in this case, to enforce personal opinion about taste. The fact AA refunded the tickets shows they know it was the wrong thing to do.

  8. I know americans like to have those weird wide open gaps in their toilet cubicles but on this pic is there even a door? Are these the new generation US cubicles ‘primarily for your safety’?
    It looks disgusting.

  9. Remember, you usually only get one side of the story in these social media stories. My guess is there’s more to this than the woman alleges. It’s highly improbable that an AA flight attendant would have pulled her aside if her top was being worn the way it is shown in her photo.

  10. Typical, jealous white flight attendants envying attractive black sisters and they’re curvaceous bodies.

  11. This was ridiculous on the part of the AA crew. There’s nothing wrong with this doctor’s outfit. There’s nothing wrong with wearing casual outfits in either Jamaica or Miami. This was a case of an AA crew being jerks and judgmental—and likely racist—pricks.

  12. You’d think an ”MD” would know enough about obesity and have the self discipline to avoid it.

    Yet, an MBA might have enough business acumen to take advantage of this situation.

    Let’s just all be grateful that this already over-educated passenger doesn’t have the additional initials, J.D., behind her name…

  13. Anyone who says puts MBA in their twitter name is full of themselves. But then she also puts MD also!!! She is all about look at me … look at me !!! Well American Airlines looked at her and said cover up!

  14. As the only black person on this blog, I would like to speak on the issue of race. I do not believe AA staff are racist. But I also believe, and it’s personal, and it was actually very hurtful, to hear them talk about forcing a black woman to cover her body with a blanket.

  15. @Donato ” making it sound as though a caucasian would not have warranted the same apology.”

    No, I think the suggestion is that there might not have been an incident warranting an apology with a caucasian passenger…

  16. @Gary

    Companies often bend over backwards to apologize for legitimate actions because certain groups cry, scream and yell. Very often if white people made those same allegations and accusations they would be ignored. It’s a double standard and yes it is anti white racism.

  17. @Parts Unknown
    That’s a scratch on the mirror. It’s not actually poo on the floor.

    And as expected, the trolls are out in full force on this post – including the fake Kamala “only black person here” flamebait specialist and the as-if-on-queue “there’s more to the story” troll who makes the claim even though AA made no such claim themselves.

    The lady who’s the subject of this post made no claim of race in her tweets. That was actually brought up by AA – not her…

  18. @ Gary – still think that African Americans don’t have legitimate complaints about racist behavior against American Airlines ?

    Funny that these allegations are always aimed at American (and not Delta or Southwest or United) and yet you have been convinced for years that there isn’t a problem.

    Do you think you might have been wrong?

  19. @GARY Leff

    Gary, I have great respect for you and really do not relish being on opposite sides of this issue.

    I did not think the original issue was race related, though it might have been.

    I did find the wording of the AA statement entering into the race card.
    Please also note this quote from JON, “The lady who’s the subject of this post made no claim of race in her tweets. That was actually brought up by AA – not her…” better stated than I could.

  20. Blacks pull out the race card. I call bull. It is about her being a slut in public on a plane and she knows it because she covered her face up in the pictures like they do in the nudes

  21. @Jon — You are simply a fool if you take every social media allegation against an airline at face value. It is simply not in their business interests to “defend themselves.” You won’t be seeing the flight attendant tell her side of the story. That’s reality. Sorry to infringe on your fantasy world.

  22. @Penny it is NOT racist. Get over it. Would you dress like that in public? I hope not. She is so proud of the way she looks she HAD to hide her face in the picture she took. People need to take ownership for the way they act and dress.

    Most businesses have dress guidelines. I do not think this MD would wear that outfit to work so why would she wear it to someone else’s place of business. NO Shoes NO Shirt NO SERVICE. .

    FYI this was a Jamaica to Miami ? Jamaica is a very conservative homophobic country.

  23. @Dillon you are just an idiot, really, are we in the 1940’s? Calling her a slut? What an asshole.
    @Tomri- it isn’t HER place of business. By your logic, she would never be able to wear this outfit ANYWHERE because EVERY business is SOMEONE’S place of business, but if she wore it to the mall, motel, restaurant in Miami, no one would bat an eye…and those are all SOMEONE’S place of business. Yes, AA is flying TO RESORT DESTINATIONS so they should EXPECT RESORT WEAR TO BE WORN!
    Another point is this: IF AA HAS A DRESS CODE, then it needs to be clearly stated at the time of purchase of the tickets, not doled out and hand picked by the fa’s at a whim. Again, she isn’t exposing anything other than her shoulders and her legs, which is seen every day in most of the south and all over Jamaica. The FA was just being a racist, hateful jerk.
    The camera covered her face, but her face wasn’t at issue, her clothes were.

  24. Why DOES everyone have to make everything about rac Wow, it’s beyond old. I think her outfit what fine. It’s not classy but that’s on her. However, if everyone can stf about race, that’d be great. I hate you media.. you did this !!!!! The snowflakes and weaklings in the world can’t help themselves and continue to feed into this bs. America just sucks now.

  25. Chopsticks ….your a true racist lol talking about we need to hear both sides of the story …nigga stfu we could clearly see her outfit and it’s clear u would have to be intimated by a powerful Black queen to go tell her she can’t fly because of her Amazon outfit no suck a dick

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