Too Sexy to Fly: Woman in Crop Top Told to Cover Up or Get Off

When I fly to holiday destinations I’m often surprised by what other passengers wear. They may board in Chicago or Dallas but they’re already dressed for the Islands. That’s even true flying into conservative countries like the Maldives. While most anything goes at resorts, it’s still an Islamic society, so women arriving in short shorts and revealing tops surprises me.

Add in a low cost package holiday airline like Thomas Cook and I’m surprised passengers wear anything at all.

So imagine my shock that Thomas Cook Airlines claims to have an (unpublished) policy against ‘inappropriate’ dress and that it was enforced against Emily O’Connor as she boarded her flight to Tenerife, a holiday destination in the Canary Islands.

O’Connor had boarded her flight from Birmingham in the U.K. (or in her parlance, “Bham”). She had cleared airport security and passport control, where no one commented on her clothing. No one said anything at the gate. But when she got on board the aircraft a flight manager and 4 flight staff said I would be removed unless I put a jacket on.”

Ms. O’Connor stood her ground. She made her case that there isn’t an ‘appropriate wear policy’ ont he airline’s website. She asked passengers around her if they were offended, none claimed to be.

She’s also taken a poll online where as of this writing nearly 100,000 Twitter users have commented, overwhelmingly finding her attire consistent with modern flightwear — and I think in the context of Thomas Cook Airlines, headed to the Canary Islands, that’s pretty hard to argue. (I even think that would be true on a US airline flying midweek to a business destination.)

She says passengers hurled abuse at her, but none indicated they were offended. Eventually she got a jacket and the flight continued.

By the way it looks like she had a great vacation.

For their part the airline says they have a policy, they’re sorry they upset her, and that sometimes they do not get their dress policy right (but aren’t saying this is one of those cases).

While this story happened with a UK airline, Southwest Airlines famously kicked 23 year old Kyla Ebbert off a flight over her short skirt, which struck me as ironic considering the original Southwest Airlines uniform.

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. Social norms have changed a great deal, broadly-written policies leave much to interpretation, and individual crew members may come at things with their own view — so policies vary flight-to-flight. I was tempted to suggest the only safe attire would be a burqa, but flying while appearing to be Muslim isn’t likely to reduce the chances of an encounter with authorities.

(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

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. More than half these incidents I read about turn out to be attention seeking. What a world we live in where we can’t automatically believe victims.

  2. Apart from the expected juvenile male response that: “Emily can sit next to me.” I do have some other observations….
    I suspect Emily upset someone on the ground since her attire is not that outrageous vice current standards in the US and Western Europe, that said:
    I am not sorry to see airlines enforcing some sort of dress code to fly, though. I understand that all need to dress comfortably to fly: I had 600K+ actual last year and I’m bigger than the average bear. I get it.
    But, I don’t understand why “Homeless chic” has become de rigeur dress for many passngers.
    As Justice Bork had it perfectly in the title to his book, we are indeed” Slouching Towards Gomorrah”.

  3. Clickbait article. Change the wording of the first sentence of 3rd paragraph to read: “So imagine my delight when Thomas Cook airlines…”

  4. Question is did she pay for this flight? I swear 99% of the time a story like this comes out. You find out there were using buddy passes to fly on standby rights.

    Remember the whole yoga pants United flight? Yea those people were flying for free on dad’s standby rights.

    So if this person paid I would be pretty upset, cuz that clothing is not to crazy at all.

    But if they were flying as non rev, then you gotta follow all the rules.

  5. Who cares! But since I am already here..she looks ok since she was on the way to a strippers convention. If you are asked to do something as simple as put on a jacket…shut up and do it

  6. It did not look inappropriate to me. BTW. when I went to Tenerife, there were a number of women on the beach going topless European style.

  7. This is a planeload of passengers headed to the beach. In a few hours they’ll all be dressing in less than this.

  8. Birmingham has a lot of Muslims. Britain is more worried about offending Muslims these days Bet that’s what happened.

  9. I suspect she went to her hotel before going to the beach. She could have changed there to beach clothing. I am always cold on airplanes, the lack of clothing says a lot about the person!

  10. Inappropriate. She might as well just wear a bra and no top. And Gary lives to find the irony with any previous airline action.

  11. How on earth she could wear a Bra top in Birmingham in March is beyond me. She deserves a medal for braving the cold.

    @OtherJust Saying:
    “It did not look inappropriate to me. BTW. when I went to Tenerife, there were a number of women on the beach going topless European style.”
    Do you think that’s because Tenerife is part of Spain….which erm is Europe.

  12. It looks from the photo as if her breasts are popping out the top of the halter neck and that it just covers her nipple. So YES, she needs to cover up .

  13. what did she think ? Hugh Heffner was still alive and she was going on the Playboy Bunnie Airlines?

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