American Airlines has apologized to a Houston-based family medicine doctor after flight attendants threatened to kick her and her 8-year-old son off their Jamaica to Miami flight after she was told her summer romper was “inappropriate” for the journey.
According to Dr Latisha Rowe, she was deplaned after boarding and instructed to cover herself up else she and her son wouldn’t be allowed to join the flight after they deemed her dress to be too revealing. Rowe was left with no choice but to cover herself up with a blanket that was given to her by the flight attendants.
Narrating the incident in a series of Tweets on June 30 which went viral, Rowe, who was returning to the United States after an “amazing vacation” was adamant her dress covered everything.
“So #AmericanAirlines just told me I couldn’t board the flight without putting a jacket over my ASSETS. My shorts covered EVERYTHING but apparently was too distracting to enter the plane. I guess that’s why they are AMERICAN airlines,” she Tweeted.
Rowe, who was left humiliated after the incident accused the airlines of singling her out because of her skin color. Adding that her treatment would have been different if she was a white woman, she also shared her displeasure with the over-sexualization of black women and how they should appear in public.
“We are policed for being black,” she wrote. “Our bodies are over sexualized as women 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. I guess if it’s a “nice ass” vs a @Serena Booty it’s okay…”
Rowe went ahead to share photos of what she was wearing when she was asked to deplane and told to “cover up”.
“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,” she wrote.
She added that the unforgettable and embarrassing experience left her son in tears.
In a statement to CNN, American Airlines spokesperson Shannon Gilson apologized on behalf of the company and confirmed the incident is being investigated.
“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. We apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience, and have fully refunded their travel,” Gilson said. “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.”
American Airlines has a dress code policy for passengers in its contract of carriage which reads: “Dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed.” It however does not provide further details about the kind of clothing the airline deems inappropriate.
In 2017, the NAACP issued a national travel advisory warning African Americans “about their safety and well being when patronizing American Airlines or traveling on American Airlines flights.”
The travel advisory was lifted in July last year after the organization cited “commitments, including implicit bias training.”
Rowe’s lawyer told CNN they may sue the airline.