Okay, I’m just a few years late in hearing about the otherwise famous Kyla Ebbert and her equally famous little-white-skirt both of which had a Southwest flight attendant hyperventilating back in 2007. Seems the lovely Hooters waitress -turned Playboy model was considered inapproprately dressed for her flight from San Diego to Tuscon and she was asked to change outfits or get off the plane. Well that was then.
Oh wait, is it now?
Yeah, in a bit of deja vu all over again, actress Leisha Hailey is whining about being asked to step off a flight out of Baltimore for engaging in some kissy-kissy with her girlfriend that some other passengers apparently found too-too much. That in itself wouldn’t have sent the ladies packing. Leisha apparently matched the airline’s purple and orange livery by letting loose with some colorful words of her own when a flight attendant told the couple to cool their jets, or Flight 2274 would be one jet the BFFs wouldn’t be traveling on.
Change the name, change the problem, airlines telling passengers they can’t fly seems to be cropping up on a near-weekly basis. It happens often on Southwest, but Delta, US Airways and Air Canada Jazz have had their moments too. And I’m wondering if the airlines are involved in a diabolically clever plot to keep us passengers off-guard.
If we don’t know exactly what behavior or dress will get us asked to deplane prior to departure, will we all just start acting and dressing better when traveling by air?
At the risk of bringing up Pan Am the television show one more time, let me just suggest that in the not-too distant past, people didn’t board airplanes wearing tee-shirts with the F-word emblazoned on them. They didn’t reveal their underpants beneath teeny tiny skirts, or from above low-slung pants. Nor for that matter did people wear pajamas when they traveled, unless of course the traveler was pint-sized and the PJ’s had feet and a snap crotch.
No, these choices are a product of the modern-age. Airlines, struggling to manage the sensibilities of an eclectic assortment of cultures, religions and orientations have a tough job trying to make sure no one is offended and too often it seems, they fail.
But air travelers, beware: To the question, “do we have a right to fly?” the answer seems to be “no”. In spite of the threats from the recently dis-boarded and their demands for apologies, airlines have a tightly constructed contract of carriage printed on every single airline ticket, which says, and I paraphrase here, behave yourself in a manner that will not disrupt your fellow passengers because on the airplane, the ultimate authority is the flight crew.
This week, Leisha Hailey is tweeting that her removal from the plane, along with her companion Camila Grey was “an outrage” and she’s calling for a boycott of Southwest. Homosexuals may be the newest but they’re certainly not the last special interest group to ride the wave of publicity triggered by an involuntary departure from an airplane prior to push back.
The interest group I’d like to see start to agitate is the one demanding that everybody traveling by air board the plane, settle down, button up and pretend that we are in granny’s parlor for the duration of the flight.
Author of The New York Times bestseller, The Crash Detectives, I am also a journalist, public speaker and broadcaster specializing in aviation and travel.