Woman says Southwest wouldn’t let her on plane due to ‘inappropriate’ outfit
When Kayla Eubanks, a 22-year-old from Chicago, went to LaGuardia Airport in New York to fly home to Midway International Airport, she didn't think her outfit was going to be a topic of discussion.
When she was checking in her bags, a Southwest Airlines agent suggested they put on a sweater. Eubanks, in a red maxi skirt, Converse sneakers, and black bralette, told the clerk not to worry.
"I'm fine - it's supposed to be 70 in Chicago, which is where I went, so don't worry," she recalled in an interview with TODAY. Eubanks went to her gate and on the way two other employees commented on her outfit, she said.
"One of them was a man and said, 'I like your outfit' and the lady said, 'Where's your shirt?'" Eubanks said. "And I was like, 'This is weird whatever.'"
When she got to the head of the line to get on the plane, Eubanks said she was told she couldn't get on.
"She says," Well, you have to cover up, "said Eubanks, a clerk said to her," ... what you are wearing is inappropriate, it is against our policy. "
In response to pressure, Eubanks said the agent couldn't tell exactly what the policy was other than "You just can't bear this." She said it took multiple workers to find the policy and when they pulled it up on a computer "the words" obscene, indecent and offensive "were used.
"I understand what this is, but it doesn't apply to me - you can't tell me that my body is indecent and offensive in any way. It's just not right," Eubanks said, she told a clerk. “She was basically saying, 'This is our policy and I decide what you are wearing is not appropriate. "
Eubanks said she was angry but eventually agreed to wear a provided shirt so she could come home. She doesn't believe the politics were fair and said they shouldn't have applied to them.
"The policy says it must be indecent, obscene or offensive," she told Southwest employees when she landed in Chicago. "Do you know what these words mean?" Because I can't imagine you wanting to tell me that these words can describe my body parts. "
Eubanks said Southwest reimbursed her round-trip airfare after complaining and the company TODAY sent the following statement:
“Our employees are responsible for the well-being and comfort of everyone on board the flight. We do our best to foster a family-oriented environment and we count on our customers to use good judgment and discretion when traveling. Any situation varies widely and our staff are responsible for adhering to our contract of carriage available on our website. The customer was allowed to travel on her planned itinerary and we also reached out to her directly to apologize for her experience for a refund their fare as a gesture of goodwill. "
But Eubanks told her story in a now viral tweet because she didn't feel like she had to cover up to fly home.
"A lot of people said, 'Don't be difficult, you could just put the shirt on,' and I think I shouldn't have to," she said. "Getting on a plane shouldn't be left to the personal prejudice of others. That doesn't make sense to me ... the double standards, it's not fair, it isn't."
"But it just sucks because I feel like a woman - especially a black woman - my body is always monitored, over-sexualized," she said. "And with the two employees saying that my breasts are obscene, indecent and abusive, which is directly related to my femininity, you know, as if I can't leave them at home, I can't change them."
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