Thomas Cook cabin crew telling an air passenger to put on more clothes or be thrown off smacks of sexism and hypocrisy
Hannah Jane Parkinson – The Guardian
Another day, another example of an airline feeling it is OK to tell women and girls how to dress. You might think there were more pressing things to be getting on with – flying the planes, for instance – but there is, apparently, always an opportunity to shame female passengers over their outfit choices.
Emily O’Connor had boarded a Birmingham-to-Tenerife flight this week when the Thomas Cook cabin crew asked her to cover up the crop top she was wearing – or she would be removed from the plane. O’Connor tweeted about the incident (10,000 retweets so far) and said she’d been left “shaken and upset”. To add to her experience, the airline even announced the whole debacle over the loudspeaker. Because, sure, that’s a perfectly proportionate course of action. When O’Connor stood up and asked if anyone else cared that she was wearing what she later described as a top from Zara’s summer range (others have called it a bralet), nobody did. She eventually borrowed a jacket.
In 2017, United Airlines – perhaps the least respected airline in the world for reasons that include dragging passengers off its aircraft, leaving them bloodied – made a 10-year-old girl change her clothes before a flight because she was wearing leggings. In 2016, JetBlue objected to a woman’s “high-thigh socks and shorts”, refusing to let her remain on board.
Where to start with this all this? The first thing to say is that these incidents smack of sexism and hypocrisy. As O’Connor herself pointed out, there were men on her flight wearing vest tops. Airlines are keen to point out that their clothing policies (when they are not making them up on the hoof) apply to everyone, yet it never seems to be dads kicking off their flip-flops who get called out. In our continuing patriarchal society, it is still the case that dudes walk freely around the streets shirtless as soon as the temperature rises above 15C, but God forbid a woman’s nipple be allowed on Instagram.
It’s also the case that, though in the past air travel was imbued with a glamour that prompted passengers to dress up for the occasion, modern flying is all about comfort. A crop-top is an entirely normal item of clothing to wear, just like jogging bottoms and t-shirts and baggy jumpers. If anything, it’s people who board flights in high-heels or shirts and ties who don’t grasp the sartorial spirit of flying.
Thomas Cook has since apologised to O’Connor, a spokesman saying: “It’s clear we could have handled the situation better.” Well, yeah. I’d also add that it is pretty rich for people whose uniform features silk scarves and waistcoats – looking for all the world like barely relevant aristocrats – to comment on anyone else’s fashion choices.