How Low Can You Go?: Airlines Ban Passengers Over Revealing Clothing, Passengers Take Offense

There is a place for dress codes: school, church, brunch at the in-laws. Lately, however, people have been approached for their fashion choices at the airport. Airlines have recently banned people from their flights based on how they are dressed.

According to The Business Insider, a woman flying from Las Vegas on Southwest Airlines “was confronted by an airline employee for showing too much cleavage.” Her situation is not the first.

Recently, an American Airlines pilot lectured a passenger whose bore a four-letter expletive. The Business Insider reports that she was allowed to keep flying only “after draping a shawl over the shirt.”

The debate on who decides what is appropriate to wear on a public flight went viral after both women posed their situations to sympathetic bloggers.

What makes the situation tricky is this: Airlines do not post dress codes. Therefore, it can be confusing for passengers to know what is, and what is not, appropriate. Although it seems to me that trying to get through airport security wearing a shirt that reads, “terrists gonna kill us all” is probably not the smartest move.

That’s what graduate student Arijit Guha did last week. A student at Arizona State University, Arijit was banned from a New York flight because of his T-shirt. Guha told The Business Insider that “the misspelled shirt was satirical and he wore it to protest what he considers racial profiling.” The airline commented that his statement really wasn’t making an impact since he was really just scaring other passengers.

The Huffington Post comments that, although the First Amendment prohibits government from limiting a person’s right of free speech, that “doesn’t apply to rules set by private companies.”

“It’s like any service business. If you run a family restaurant and somebody is swearing, you kindly ask them to leave,” Kenneth Quinn, an aviation lawyer and former chief counsel at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, tells The Business Insider.

The woman who was banned for bearing the expletive on her shirt took offense, claiming that the airline was taking a side in the abortion debate since her shirt promoted a pro-choice message. The passenger, who works for an abortion provider, suggests to the Insider that “she was singled out because her T-shirt had a pro-choice slogan.”

According to the Insider, a spokesman for American says the passenger was asked to cover up “because of the F-word on the T-shirt.” He says that the airline isn’t taking sides in the abortion debate.

Readers: What do you think? Should airlines have a right to tell you what you can or cannot wear on a flight? Or should saggy pants and too much cleavage be tolerated by all involved?