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August 28, 2012

Airline Dress Codes


From the Associated Press: "Rules for how airplane passengers dress are often vague. Airline employees usually decide whether someone's clothing is offensive. If you need guidance before heading to the airport, Google the airline's 'contract of carriage' — the rules you agree to when buying a ticket — and look under 'Acceptance of Passengers' or a similar-sounding section."

Seems to me that if you're uncertain enough about whether you're going to have a problem with something you're wearing to actually look it up, you don't need to look it up — take it off.

Flying is already such a pain in the butt, why would you knowingly make your ordeal possibly even more unpleasant?

It's a variation of "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it."


Below are examples of clothing guidelines from the four largest U.S. airlines.

American: Bars passengers who "are clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offense to other passengers."

Delta: Reserves the right to remove passengers "for the comfort or safety of other passengers or Delta employees" or to prevent property damage.

Southwest: Forbids passengers "whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive."

United: Bars anyone over age 5 who is barefoot "or otherwise inappropriately clothed, unless required for medical reasons."

Want more?

You came to the right place.

Below find excerpts from David Koenig's August 26 Boston.com story about the rise in clashes between passengers and airlines over what constitutes appropriate attire.

It's not always clear what's appropriate. Airlines don't publish dress codes. There are no rules that spell out the highest hemline or the lowest neckline allowed. That can leave passengers guessing how far to push fashion boundaries. Every once in a while the airline says: Not that far.

"It's like any service business. If you run a family restaurant and somebody is swearing, you kindly ask them to leave," says Kenneth Quinn, an aviation lawyer and former chief counsel at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Last year, a passenger was pulled off a US Airways jet and arrested at San Francisco International Airport after airline employees say he refused to pull up his low-hanging pants. The local prosecutor declined to file charges against Deshon Marman, a University of New Mexico football player.

Marman's lawyer complained that the same airline repeatedly allowed a middle-age man to travel wearing women's underwear and not much else.

[Up top is a picture of that man, known as Howard the Cross-Dresser, about to board a flight in his flying outfit: women's underwear, black thigh-high stockings, and high heels.]

"You can't let someone repugnant like that (the cross-dresser) on the plane and single out this kid because he's black, wearing dreadlocks, and had two or three inches of his underwear showing," says the lawyer, Joseph D. O'Sullivan. ‘"They can't arrest him for what someone perceives to be inappropriate attire."

US Airways spokesman John McDonald says no passengers complained about the cross-dresser until his photo in women's underwear circulated on the Internet after the Marman incident. He says the airline doesn't have a dress code but that employees may talk to a passenger if other people might be offended by the way he’s dressed.

"It's not an issue of a dress code, it's one of disruption," like watching pornography within sight of other passengers, McDonald says.

Last week, Arijit Guha, a graduate student at Arizona State University, was barred from a Delta flight in Buffalo, N.Y., because of a T-shirt [below]


that mocked federal security agents and included the words, "Terrists gonna kill us all.’" He says the misspelled shirt was satirical and he wore it to protest what he considers racial profiling.

"I thought it was a very American idea to speak up and dissent when you think people's rights are being violated," Guha says. The pilot thought it scared other passengers.

Delta is within its rights to make the passengers change shirts even if messages are political, says Joe Larsen, a First Amendment lawyer from Houston who has defended many media companies.

The First Amendment prohibits government from limiting a person's free-speech rights, but it doesn't apply to rules set by private companies, Larsen says. He notes that government security screeners didn't challenge Guha; private Delta employees did.

In short, since airlines and their planes are private property and not a public space like the courthouse steps, crews can tell you what to wear.

Critics complain that airlines enforce clothing standards inconsistently. The lack of clear rules leaves decisions to the judgment of individual airline employees.

Airlines say they refund the passenger's fare if they deny boarding for inappropriate attire.

Clashes over clothing and other flash points seem to be increasing, says Alexander Anolik, a travel-law attorney in Tiburon, Calif. He blames an unhappy mix of airline employees who feel underpaid and unloved, and passengers who are stressed out and angry over extra fees on everything from checking a bag to scoring an aisle seat.

Anolik says that passengers should obey requests from airline employees. If passengers don't, they could be accused of interfering with a flight crew — a federal crime. He says passengers should wait until they're off the plane to file complaints with the airline, the U.S. Department of Transportation or in small-claims court.

"They have this omnipotent power," Anolik says of flight crews. "You shouldn't argue your case while you're on the airplane. You're in a no-win scenario — you will be arrested."

Fair warning.

August 28, 2012 at 05:31 PM | Permalink


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WOW - the mother of all rants - i'll take my original comment back - i'd much rather sit next to the dude with the blue bikini

Posted by: sherlock | Aug 30, 2012 2:23:30 AM

From the horse's mouth...


Posted by: Rocketboy | Aug 29, 2012 2:40:11 PM

I grow beyond weary of the entire TSA. Back in the early days I made the mistake of wearing Levis jeans on a Saturday flight. I was all but disrobed in public due to the metal zipper (don't even ask about the silly contortions they put me through).

I've never flown in anything but a suit and tie since.

No problem. White, middle-aged, professional male walks right through.

Except... I've been known to carry a pretty sophisticated kit of computer gear, including an external 12 hr battery. That bag has taken 30 min to clear. When possible, I FedEx the computer gear ahead.

"Yes Sir! No Maam!" and passport/driver's license + tickets right up front in my jacket.

Unless I'm PIC, flying is far from fun these days.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Aug 29, 2012 2:16:16 PM

What, wouldn't want to sit next to someone who realized how much smoke and mirrors (and violation of privacy) is involved with the current security theater? Personally, I don't feel comfortable next to someone who thinks that the full body scanners actually make things safer.

Posted by: Rocketboy | Aug 29, 2012 1:11:16 PM

call me squeamish but i really wouldn't want to sit next to either one

Posted by: sherlock | Aug 29, 2012 2:44:51 AM

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