US airlines refuse to board passengers based on their clothing

A female traveler submits to a full body scan before heading to her flight at Pittsburgh International Airport November. ( Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

Several US airlines have been refusing to let ticketed passengers board planes based on how they’re dressed. Being told to change their clothing or not fly, some passengers said they felt unreasonably discriminated against.

One woman was confronted by an airline employee for showing too much cleavage on a Southwest Airlines flight, the Associated Press reports. Another passenger was forced to cover up her T-shirt with a shawl because it showed a four-letter curse word. In the second case, the woman, who is a pro-choice activist, said her T-shirt was questioned because it bore a pro-choice slogan.

On a US Airways flight, an African-American footballer- playing for the University of New Mexico-was kicked off the plane and arrested for refusing to pull up his low-hanging pants, while a Caucasian cross-dresser was allowed to board a plane wearing little more than women’s underwear. In light of both cases, the American footballers lawyer, Deshon Marman, suggested racism might have been involved. The prosecutor thus declined to file charges against the college student.

You can’t let someone repugnant like that (the cross-dresser) on the plane and single out this kid because he’s black, wearing dreadlocks, and had two or three inches of his underwear showing,” said attorney Joseph D. O’Sullivan. “They can’t arrest him for what someone perceives to be inappropriate attire.”

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