American Airlines staff makes woman 'cover up' before boarding flight
A US woman was temporarily removed from an American Airlines flight for wearing "inappropriate" clothing. Tisha Rowe (37), a resident of Houston (Texas), said she and her 8-year-old son weren't allowed to board the flight until she "covered up." The incident sparked an uproar online and while the airline said they have fully refunded Rowe for the flight ticket, the latter claims otherwise.
The incident occurred on June 30 as Rowe, a family medicine physician, attempted to board an American Airlines flight from Jamaica to Miami. Rowe said a female flight attendant took her outside the aircraft and asked if she had a jacket. Rowe didn't. The flight attendant then prohibited her from boarding until she covered herself up with a blanket to walk to her seat.
"I felt powerless," Rowe told Buzzfeed News. "There was nothing I could do at that moment other than give up my money and my seat to defend my position that I was completely appropriate." She recalled feeling "humiliated" by the experience.
Further, Rowe wrote on Facebook, "My shorts covered EVERYTHING but apparently was too distracting to enter the plane. I guess that's why they're AMERICAN airlines." She added, "We're policed for being black. Our bodies are over-sexualized and we must ADJUST to make everyone around us comfortable. I've seen white women with much shorter shorts board a plane without a blink of an eye."
Rowe also recalled her son being in tears after the experience. "'Mommy, follow the rules,'" Rowe recalls her son as saying, according to The Washington Post. "I'm trying to explain to an 8-year-old (that) Mommy did not break the rules," she added.
Rowe also said that while deboarding, she witnessed another female passenger wearing shorts, who wasn't obstructed during boarding. She added that the woman was a "size 2; thin." "It's hard to understand if you are not a double minority- a woman and a black- how it's not pulling a card." Meanwhile, Rowe said the woman agreed to back her up in a formal complaint.
On its part, American Airlines spokesperson Shannon Gilson apologized by saying, "We're proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone." Further, an American Airlines representative told Rowe's attorney, Geoffrey Berg, they don't want to be portrayed "in this way." "The best way to not be portrayed this way is to not behave this way," Berg retorted.
Establishing a dress code, American Airlines states, "Dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren't allowed." However, Berg added, "If they expect passengers flying around the Caribbean in June in snowsuits, they probably ought to put that in the contract of carriage."
To note, in 2017, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a warning to black American Airlines passengers that they might witness "disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions." Although the warning was withdrawn in 2018 after the airline implemented "implicit-bias training" and process to resolve discriminatory complaints, Rowe said no one informed her about the process to file a complaint, despite her requests.