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Southwest Calls Woman's Clothing 'Inappropriate.' She Disagrees

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A woman named Avital has contacted the blog Jezebel to share a tale of Southwest Airlines and its alleged dress code.

Avital, who asked that her last name be withheld, told the site that she boarded a 6 a.m. flight from Las Vegas to New York wearing a cotton dress, flannel shirt and scarf. The dress was a bit revealing, and she was told by the airline that she was dressed "inappropriately" -- and wouldn't be allowed to fly unless she buttoned up her flannel shirt to cover her cleavage.

"I didn't want to let the representative's Big Feelings about my breasts change the way I intended to board my flight," she told the site, adding that she eventually boarded the plane without covering up. "And lo and behold, the plane didn't fall out of the sky ... my cleavage did not interfere with the plane's ability to function properly."

When reached by the site, Southwest spokesperson Christi McNeill said that the airline offered her an apology and, out of a "gesture of goodwill," a refund. Yet the airline's Contract of Carriage gives it the right to refuse a ride to any customer whose clothing is deemed to be "lewd, obscene or patently offensive." McNeill added, "as a company that promotes a casual and family-focused atmosphere onboard our aircraft and in our airports, we simply ask that our customers use good judgment and exercise discretion in deference to other customers who depend on us to provide a comfortable travel experience. ... Our flight crews and employees are responsible for the safety and comfort of everyone onboard the flight."

But this brings up again an issue that came to light last month when an unidentified woman missed her connecting American Airlines flight for wearing a shirt that the captain of her flight felt was offensive. That shirt read "If I wanted the government in my womb, I'd f--k a senator." American's Conditions of Carriage reads: "American may refuse to transport you, or may remove you from your flight at any point, for one or several reasons." That includes if you "are clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offense to other passengers."

An American spokesman said at the time, "The only reason she was asked to cover up her T-shirt was the appearance of the 'F-word' on the T-shirt. The [pro-choice] message is irrelevant to our policy."

In the past, passengers' attire has created some media attention. Last year a college football player was arrested after trying to board a U.S. Airways flight wearing sagging pants. Similarly, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was kicked off a Southwest flight last year for having pants that hung too low.

On the other hand, a man clad in women's lingerie was allowed to fly U.S. Air last year.

Perhaps its time the airlines got together and discussed a universal rule for what's appropriate to wear on a plane?

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