Dress Code or Discrimination? Delta Air Lines Threatens To Kick Off Braless Passenger

A New Zealander was removed from a Delta Air Lines flight from Salt Lake City to San Francisco on January 22 because she wasn’t wearing a bra. Lisa Archbold, who identifies as queer, says she was dressed as a man.

Ms. Archbold boarded the flight and then was approached by an airline employee and was told that her attire violated Delta’s dress code.

Her trip had been for promoting Woody Harrelson’s liquor brand at the Sundance Film Festival, and thought when she was approached that she was in for a scolding over her checked suitcase full of vodka bottles. It was actually her lack of a bra, which isn’t specifically called out in an airline dress code or its contract of carriage. Instead, passengers whose “conduct, attire, hygiene or odor creates an unreasonable risk of offense or annoyance to other passengers” may be denied transport.

Archbold also goes by the stage name DJette Kiwi and has lived in the U.S. for four years. She was dressed in baggy pants and a shirt. Yet she was told to cover up with a jacket or be offloaded. I guess it was cold on the aircraft in Salt Lake City. She believes she was targeted for her appearance and choice of wearing men’s clothing, and points out that there were men on the flight with bigger breasts than she has who weren’t required to wear a bra.

Ironically, Delta produced a Queer Eye safety video and even collaborated on an episode of the show.

My own view is that people ought to be able to do anything that’s peaceful, and present themselves however they wish. Probably a good idea to wait on surgeries until after the teen years. And it’s probably not actually a good idea to ‘bring your whole self to work’ no matter how you’d describe yourself. Because it’s work. More than half of HR trends are probably bad ideas.

Usually airline dress code issues stem from a conflict of expectations between passengers and staff, with the passengers just trying to live their life as they normally do, staff trying to enforce vague guidance, and people about to cram into a metal tube for hours at a time that come from different backgrounds and who have different expectations. A couple of years ago a former Miss Universe was told by American Airlines to cover up to fly. She was in athleisure wear less revealing than what other passengers had on.

Try to be respectful of people that seem different from you, or outside of your own experience. But if you’re outside the experience of others, try to be understanding and respectful of them too. Sometimes they just have a job to do, and aren’t actually out to get you, like this Delta agent who shut down a passenger who said they were misgendered.

He wasn’t trying to use the wrong pronouns for a passenger, just get the flight out on time. As far as he was concerned, their correct pronoun was ‘passenger’.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Attention seekers doing outrageous things to get attention than claiming discrimination for more attention

  2. This will never hold up. My 20 year old daughter and many of her friends often don’t wear a bra. No way an airline can state that is grounds for not flying someone. People with folds of fat bulging out of their clothes are much more offensive than a woman (or trans man) that doesn’t wear a bra. The prude that did this should be fired! People need to quit trying to impose their values and morals on others.

  3. You can play dress up if you wish, or make believe ,or even mutilation yourself, but you will always be a woman. Don’t blame others for not suffering from your delusions. Here in realityland, there are rules for men and women. You wore a see through shirt to try to create a confrontation, because you crave attention, when the fact is that nobody really cares about your mental illness.

  4. Good grief. How did Delta survive the 60s and 70s? When did nipples become offensive? This is an overzealous prude of an employee making a mountain out of a molehill, so to speak.
    I say this as a long time gate agent for a Big 3 airline.

  5. Analogies never work.


    Men’s nipples are not sexualized. Women’s nipples are. A sexualized appearance is not appropriate in a public space. End of story.

    Would have been nice for this passenger to simply cover up as requested and get on with life.


  6. I’m a man. If I don’t wear underwear with the skinny sweats made of thin material
    I like to travel in, my penis would be clearly and prominently visible.

    Wouldn’t that be the same thing?

    I’m also overweight by about 50 lbs. Should I be allowed to wear a sportsbra and tight short-shorts?

  7. That shirt looks see-through to be fair.

    Without a frontal pic, it might be hard to say, but given the existing pic, I am siding with Delta.

    She was intent on making headlines and got it.

  8. @Linda … +1 . Females go on dates with more revealing shirts … it’s part of life . Vive la vie .

  9. I might be biased or ignorant here because I never wear a bra while I’m flying. I also really like breezy clothing so I’ll wear clothes with holes in them just for the luxurious feel. I respectfully zoomed in on the photo and frankly I think this seems like nothing. I’ve shown more skin on a plane.

  10. @Dignity (hardly)

    So, because men sexualize women’s nipples you take is that women are the ones who need to make accommodations? Let me guess, you also think that if a woman is wearing something you deem revealing then she must be asking to be sexually harassed? The inability of men to control their urges shouldn’t fall on women to resolve. That is a *you* issue.

  11. @Erin, where did I say men sexualize women’s nipples?

    I said women’s nipples are sexualized.

    I recommend you enroll in remedial courses in reading comprehension, logic, and etiquette. You read what I didn’t say in my comment, then you cascaded that into a slippery slope of patent nonsense. Nobody ever asks to be sexually harassed. Nobody ever asks to be defamed either which is what you’re doing to me. Stop this behavior at once. And don’t ever — DON’T EVER TRY TO MAKE IT SEEM LIKE I AM A MISOGYNIST OR BIGOT.

    Get out of this website!

  12. @Dignity, if womens nipples are sexualized, that’s the problem of the person doing the sexualizing.. It’s not incumbent upon women to worry if someone is offended by something that exists to feed an infant.

  13. @Erin

    Im curious about your answer to my question.

    What is too revealing for a man? If you can easily see his penis through his clothes, just like braless nipples, because he is wearing something tight, and white, with no underwear, and your children can see it too and ask questions, is that just as ok as what you’re talking about?

    By default it would be sexist for it not to be, right?

    I really do want to hear your opinion

  14. @Linda … +1 . Thank you for being rational . It’s part of life , and I like life . Vive la vie .

  15. From what I can see, there was no problem with her attire. Delta should pay up and retrain their agents if they don’t want to have problems like this in the future.

  16. Pretty obvious that this moron is wearing some kind of sleazy white fabric shirt that is probably fairly translucent. I have a sneaky suspicion that it did something else to call attention to itself and the crew didn’t like it. But doesn’t matter, it got its 2 minutes of attention. How sad.

  17. Well, I don’t agree she should have been tossed. I am a woman, and the sheer white shirt with no bra pushes it and seems a lot like an attention-grabbing effort like she/he wanted everyone to see a man who has women’s parts. I would roll my eyes and surely notice but would likely not say anything or support kicking her out of the flight. I would view it as in poor taste and not a classy look, but I have a right to my opinion, aye? But I would not have “given” her the attention she seems to be craving. It seems a bit of IN-YOUR-FACE-MF behavior … but… Just let her be and put on your headphones!!!

  18. I’m normally on team free the nipple and screw the dress code, but the picture makes it seem like they were wearing a sheer shirt, and no one should be surprised that some airline employees will think wearing a sheer shirt is inappropriate.

  19. The sight of shirt potatoes is pleasing to the eye. Why else would they be at near eye level?

  20. Really doesn’t matter whether someone thinks nipples are sexualized or not, cry away. The law says they indecent period. We are a country of rule of law.

  21. If I pay a thousand dollars for a stupid airplane ticket, from a stupid airline that my tax dollars have bailed out more times than I can count, the least the stupid airline could do is not try and police my attire, unless it’s literally causing problems.

  22. Yes, but those laws were made by a bunch of misogynistic old white men who view women as second class citizens.
    Female nipples are no more indecent than male nipples. They are quite literally the exact same thing. Continuing to make excuses for men’s lack of control rather than just owning up to being poor behavior which absolutely CAN be controlled is just plain ignorant.

  23. @Dignity – And whom do you think deems women’s nipples as sexualized? Hmmm? It isn’t women.
    My reading comprehension is quite fine, thank you. Don’t try to hide behind subtleties. You are the one who called out the sexualization of one set of nipples vs. the other.

    And to answer your other question, if you think it is OK for a man to wear a shirt (or not), exposing his nipples, but don’t feel that the same rule should apply to a woman, perhaps you should rethink your view of right and wrong. Conflating exposure of nipples with exposure of genitals isn’t going to win you any points.

    And, no. I will not get out of this website. The fact that I am clearly making you, and perhaps others, uncomfortable facing the real issue is all the reason I need to be here.

  24. The controversy involves a social media influencer. The smart move is to be very skeptical that we are being given sufficient information and address the likelihood that the situation is manufactured rage-bait. After more information is released and some time has elapsed, it is safer to draw a conclusion. At the moment ….

  25. In light of this, I’m pleased that Aeromexico (which I like) and Delta are divorcing. This carries morality policing too far. The main reason I no longer live in the US is American intolerance. The country is rife with corporate totalitarianism, from Facebook censorship to this.

  26. No bra, no problem. Sheer shirt with no bra, I can see a bit of a problem. However, people equating that to a man with sheer pants are making a false equation. A man with sheer pants and no underwear = a woman with sheer pants and no underwear. Breasts are not the nether regions of your body.

  27. “Dignity” talks about avoiding confrontation, yet uses all caps and bold too much and then threatens someone in another post.

    If this is comedy it’s very very well done.

  28. I look at this from a mother’s standpoint and am opposed to flaunting your bits and pieces. I’d rather not have to explain to my children what they are seeing shouldn’t be seen. Clearly this person has no ethical obligation to dress appropriately where children are present.

    As many have noted, she is desperately in need of attention. I’m all in on having her leave the plane if she couldn’t do the smallest thing and put on a jacket to not cause a scene but there’s no scandal or attention to be had if she did that.

    One final thought, if you’re going to ask one person to cover or leave, you best be asking it of all passengers. Thing is there is no steadfast dress code for Delta and what one person finds offensive another may not. Either put it in writing so the public is aware and informed or say nothing at all.

  29. @ renee

    I’m not saying it’s equal, and I’m not talking about sheer. Just obvious.

    My point is if it’s too inappropriate to wear to a kids soccer game, it’s too inappropriate for the plane. No bra is fine at soccer, sheer no bra is not. Nursing at both is fine. And an obvious outline of a weiner is never acceptable anywhere lol

    PS I’m definitely not anti braless women for the record lol

  30. Sounds like quite the showy attention seeker. You can definitely not wear a bra and be discreet about it.

  31. The passenger was simply acting stupid and needed to be covered in event her shirt and shoes suddenly got sucked out of the plane.

  32. I love how all you people sit around and judge. Here’s a thought: Mind your damn business on a plane! I fly every week as part of my employment, it NEVER ceases to amaze me how many people do nothing but STARE at other people looking for a reason to be upset or offended! Sit down, shut up and mind your own business. What someone else is doing, wearing, etc. isn’t your business. Get over your judgemental crap and mind your business. That is what will your flight better, not demanding everyone behave as you do. If that person over wants to look like a fool, so what? It isn’t hurting you any. Or your “innocent children” who BTW are very aware of what boobs are. And for.

  33. I’m going to guess it’s not the lack of bra, rather the sheer shirt. Lots of women go braless without issue

  34. Delta, as I recall, allows male crew to wear skirts. Yet they want to kick off a braless pax?

    Far from indecent, I rather like the pointers. Of course, perhaps no on “Lisa Archbold, who identifies as queer,.”

  35. Obviously you can go without a bra if you are wearing a top that is not purposefully revealing. The sheer fabric is puposefully revealing as the passenger intended. Same with them that bulge out of their sports bras and latex shorts 2 sizes too small. Is their only asset their breasts? Them that get told to cover up say they “just want to be me, just want to be free” just want to be noticed. I would rather not have to sit next to them.

  36. Erin, irrelevant. Basically shiiit or get off pot. If you don’t like the law run for congress. We all have opinions but live in a rule of law. Stop posting which is garbage and take up your cicic duty and run or volunteer. Otherwise you are wasting air.

  37. I’ll be NOT reserving seats with Delta any longer. Your stance has caused a loss of my business.

  38. I’m ready and waiting for the female hostesses and female pilots to go bra-less with some moves .

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