I feel for the Houston doctor who was singled out for dressing inappropriately on an American Airlines flight from Jamaica to Miami. She did not deserve to be ridiculed by flight attendants and American Airlines was right to apologize.
Let’s be clear, although we have only Dr. Tisha Rowe’s side of the story and a statement from American Airlines, it seems:
- She was stopped by a flight attendant for wearing a “romper” outfit deemed too revealing
- She was told to cover up, but had no change of clothes
- Instead, she was given a blanket (upon request)
- She was told by another flight attendant “not to make a scene” as she retreated to her seat
- It caused her 8-year-old son to cry
Folks, we’re going to assume her story is true. If you don’t want to make that assumption, just pretend this is a hypotehetical.
To me, it’s the warning from the flight attendant that just screams “don’t act uppity” to me. There may have been no racial prejudice involved; I cannot know the mindset or subconscious mindset of the flight attendants onboard. But look at what she was wearing:
Here is what i was wearing when @AmericanAir asked me to deplane for a talk. At which point I was asked to “cover up”. When defending my outfit I was threatened with not getting back on the flight unless I walked down the aisle wrapped in a blanket. #notsofriendlyskies pic.twitter.com/AYQNNriLcq
— Tisha Rowe MD, MBA (@tisharowemd) July 1, 2019
Honestly, what’s the problem?
Speaking of her wardrobe choice, Dr. Rowe said:
I turned, and I looked at my backside, and I kind of gave myself that, you know, girl check. Growing up, I lived in a very conservative household. Like, if my dad thought my shorts were too short, I was not leaving the house. So that’s just something that I’ve gotten into the habit of doing.
I have a very curvaceous body, and I put my body in bold colors, so you’re going to see it. But it’s not vulgar. It’s not inappropriate. It’s not bad, you know? If you put someone who’s a size 2 in the exact same outfit next to me, no one would be bothered.
My Opinion Of Her Wardrobe Doesn’t Matter
I do think what the lady is wearing is tacky. Not so much because it looks bad (she looks great to me) but because seat pitch and width is so bad on American Airlines and we end up finding ourselves skin-to-skin against our seatmate. I’d rather be cloth-to-cloth than skin-to-skin with anyone. But that was not the reason she was stopped…and good luck telling me people to cover up on a flight from Kingston, Jamaica to Miami in the humid heat of summer.
But at the same time, I also don’t care. I truly don’t care what she chooses to wear, as long as it covers up so-called “private” parts and doesn’t include vulgar/obscene messaging. I still dress up when I fly…somewhat. Some may say my jeans don’t belong in a premium cabin. I’m one of the odd people who enjoys wearing a suit and tie (though not every time I step onto a plane). My point is the clothing you wear is about the most subjective thing you do in life.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting next to a guy wearing a sheepskin tank-top, burlap Bermuda shorts, and suede faux-Birkenstocks. He’s got dreadlocks and a scraggly beard. Ugh…
And maybe he finds my polo shirt and trousers as equally repulsive.
Wherever that line is or should be, Dr. Rowe did not cross it…not if she was wearing what she posted on Twitter.
And for us to dismiss her story is wrong: this sort of double standard must be called out. I fly all the time…literally more than some flight attendants and pilots. I see far more revealing, misfitting, clothing on passengers all the time. Thus, we cannot help but to assume that she was called out due to her size or skin color. Perhaps both. We don’t have a smoking gun, I suppose, but it’s an elementary use of deductive reasoning.
American Airlines Did The Right Thing
To AA’s credit, it promptly issued a full refund and apology, though perhaps I would have worded it differently:
We were concerned about Dr. Rowe’s comments, and reached out to her and our team at the Kingston airport to gather more information about what occurred. Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to reach Dr. Rowe or leave a message at the number provided. We want to personally apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience, and have fully refunded their travel. We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.
Customers “of all backgrounds”? What does that mean? She’s a well-educated doctor and accountant. Does AA mean education level? Rowe alleged racism on Twitter, so I suppose that could explain why. I view the issue not as deliberate animus (hostility) toward passengers of size or color, but as an unacceptable double standard. Ignorance is no excuse.
AA must train its flight attendants to evenly apply dress code standards. When in doubt, let it pass…this sort of altercation plays right into the hands of those who argue that AA is a “racist” airline. It’s not the sort of publicity that AA needs. And more importantly, Dr. Rowe deserves to be treated with the same level of respect afforded to everyone else.
What are your thoughts on this incident?