American Airlines apologizes to Black passenger over her clothes
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 7/12/2019, 11:19 a.m.
American Airlines has apologized to a Texas doctor after she was temporarily removed from a plane over her romper outfit, reports CBS News. Dr. Tisha Rowe was boarding a Miami-bound flight from Kingston, Jamaica, en route to Houston, when a flight attendant told her to get off until she covered up, reported CBS affiliate station KHOU.
Rowe told a KHOU reporter that she was traveling with her 8-year-old son on June 30 when she was asked to step off the plane. Once off, she was told to cover up or she wouldn’t be allowed back on. After failing to change the crew’s mind, she asked for a blanket, wrapped it around herself and then walked down the plane’s aisle to her seat. “I am, like, head down the whole time,” Rowe said Wednesday. “I don't want to see anybody’s face. I’m embarrassed. I’m humiliated. I did not look up at even a single passenger.”
American Airlines rules state only that passengers must “dress appropriately,” and bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed. Rowe said the crew didn’t single out anyone else, even a woman who was wearing smaller shorts. “If I, being Leticia Rowe, was a White woman in that same body suit, if they thought it’s inappropriate, do I think they would have removed that White woman from the plane?” she said. “Absolutely not.” She complained on Twitter about the airline crew following the incident for apparently considering her shorts “too distracting.”
American Airlines learned of her comments and apologized on Tuesday. In a statement, the airlines said, “We were concerned about Dr. Rowe’s comments, and reached out to her and our team at the Kingston airport to gather more information about what occurred. We apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience, and have fully refunded their travel,” the statement continued. “We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.”
Rowe said the apology was a good first step, even though she personally hasn’t spoken to any American Airlines officials. She also called for the airline to create dress code enforcement tests for their employees. Her lawyer, Geoffrey Berg, also told KHOU he’s been in contact with airline officials about further action. “We’ve taken a few steps, not all of which I’m ready to discuss,” Berg said. “Part of what we have asked is that they do exactly what she said, which is, solve the problem.”