(This commentary originally aired Dec. 14, 2012)
Every now and then we hear a news report about some guy banned from an airplane flight because the slogan on his t-shirt is deemed offensive by a flight attendant. Or a woman is denied boarding (as happened to the woman in this accompanying photograph) because her garb is considered too revealing by an airline employee. So what are the rules?
The truth is there really are no rules. At least not hard and fast ones. American Airlines bans passengers who “are clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offense to other passengers.”
Southwest Airlines bans garb that is “lewd, obscene or patently offensive.”
United Airlines outlaws anyone who is five years or older who is barefoot or otherwise inappropriately clothed unless required by medical reasons.
You can see the problems here—these are squishy definitions. Well, except the one about everyone over five having to wear some kind of footwear. I guess “inappropriately clothed,” “patently offensive,” or “a manner that would cause discomfort to other passengers” is sort of like good or bad art—you know it when you see it.
If you want to make a flight, don’t push the boundaries.