Air New Zealand has apologised to a customer who was told that her outfit was too inappropriate to wear onboard an aircraft.
Courtney Newbold was returning to Auckland on Friday on a flight from the Cook Islands when a member of the cabin crew took issue with her bare midriff.
Newbold, who was wearing “two layered crop tops and high waisted leggings”, was told that her outfit was inappropriate.
On return from her holiday she posted an angry response to the Airline’s Facebook page asking why nobody warned her about her outfit during the two-hours’ wait for her plane “but rather right when I was boarding and could not procure clothing out of thin air?”
Initially, she thought she was being told to cover up because the plane was cold.
“Then the flight attendant said ‘You are showing too much skin’,” Newbold told the New Zealand Herald.
Her clothes had already been checked in her luggage. Fortunately her friend she had been travelling with had a spare jersey, which she could wear.
“It was the last flight of the day, if they didn’t let me fly I don’t know what I’d have done.”
Looking at fellow travellers she saw other passengers were exposing far more skin than she had, particularly male passengers in board shorts and T-shirts.
No other passenger had been singled out, she said.
Newbold, who has a sleeve of rabbit tattoos, felt that this was not an adequate reason to cover up. These designs were inoffensive and she had been very clearly told, by two cabin crew members, that she was exposing ‘too much skin’.
Having spent the day swimming at the beach, she had put on a fresh outfit to fly home.
“I had made an effort to cover up.”
Having returned home, Newbold took a photo of the outfit she flew in and made a public complaint on the airline’s social media page.
The airline does not have an official ‘dress code’ beyond a single paragraph terms of carriage asking that passengers’ clothes are “clean and tidy” and no open footwear or thongs are worn for safety reasons.
Newbold says she was wearing closed shoes for the flight, and did not see how this applied to her.
Air New Zealand said that they were aware of the incident and that their general manager of customer service Leeanne Langridge had called Newbold yesterday, to apologise.
“In this instance, there has been a misunderstanding,” Langridge told the Herald. “But we will be taking this situation as a learning and will be re-engaging with our customer-facing teams to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
Newbold says she was grateful for the apology and was offered 100 airpoints as compensation, but this had missed the point.
“I don’t think women’s bodies should be policed like this.”
Overall she said she was disappointed.
“I’d thought we were a bit more progressive in New Zealand.”
In January, a woman flying from Adelaide was told she would not be able to board a Virgin Australia flight unless she wore less revealing clothing. Virgin staff told local news agency NCA that they felt her “bikini-style top” was unsuitable for travel.
This article originally appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission