Olivia Culpo has revealed that she was asked to “cover up” before boarding an American Airlines flight to Cabo San Lucas, leaving travellers wondering what the airline’s dress code really is.
In an Instagram Story posted on 13 January, Olivia’s sister, Aurora Culpo, shared that the former Miss Universe was told to put a “blouse” on over her outfit, or else she wouldn’t be allowed onto the flight.
The clip showed Culpo, 29, dressed in a long black cardigan, biker shorts, and a sports bra for the flight, an outfit that her sister described as “appropriate”.
“Tell me that is not so f***ed up,” she added in regards to the situation.
In another video shared on Aurora’s story, Culpo stood next to another passenger who could be seen wearing a similar outfit, and who noted that it was “weird” the model was asked to change considering her own shirt had a lower cut.
This isn’t the first time that passengers have been asked to “cover up” on an American Airlines flight. In 2019, Tisha Rowe was travelling to the US from Jamaica with her son when she was approached by an American Airlines worker, who asked to talk to her about the romper she was wearing.
“Here is what I was wearing when @AmericanAir asked me to deplane for a talk,” Rowe tweeted along with a photo of her romper. “At which point I was asked to ‘cover up’. When defending my outfit I was threatened with not getting back on the flight unless I walked down the aisle wrapped in a blanket.”
Rowe told The Washington Post that after the flight, she found a passenger who was wearing shorts shorter than hers. The passenger then agreed to back Rowe up in a formal complaint.
Shannon Gils, an American Airlines spokesperson, contacted Rowe after the incident to apologise, adding that the airline is “committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with [them].”
Rowe said that she was also issued a refund, but that she and her son were hurt and traumatised by the incident.
"If you really want to make it right, you have to realise this was traumatic for both of us,” she said.
More recently, a passenger was barred from an American Airlines flight because airline employees deemed her shorts “too short”.
In July 2021, fitness model Deniz Saypinar noted on her Instagram story that she wasn’t allowed on her flight from Texas to Miami because she was wearing a cropped tank top and her denim shorts were “too short.”
While narrating the incident, Saypinar claimed that airline staff had said she was practically “naked.”
“They literally didn’t take me to the plane because they say ‘you’re naked and you offend other families,’” she said.
American Airlines later released a statement noting that, according to its “conditions of carriage, all customers must dress appropriately and offensive clothing isn’t permitted on board our flights”.
They also added that Saypinar was “rebooked on a subsequent flight” and made it safely to Miami.
According to American Airlines’ website, passengers have to “dress appropriately,” which means bare feet or offensive clothing isn’t “allowed”.
The 2018 American Airlines Travel Guide goes more into detail about the airline’s on-flight dress code, with the company noting under the “dress guidelines while travelling” section that guests shouldn’t wear anything “offensive or distractive.”
“You shouldn’t wear anything such as super short shorts, bare-midriff, provocative/revealing/see-through, etc,” the guide reads.
It also suggests that, when “in doubt” about dress code, passengers ask themselves: “Do I blend in with customers, do I appear better dressed than other customers?” If the answer is yes, then they’re “probably set.”
The Independent has reached out to American Airlines for a comment.
Besides American Airlines, passengers travelling with other airlines have described situations where they have been approached regarding dress code violations. In January of last year, Catherine Bampton told News.com.au that when she was trying to get on a Virgin Australia Airlines flight, she was stopped because of her outfit.
Bampton, who was wearing a cropped halter top and high-waisted jeans, claimed that she was told that “the pilot doesn’t like people showing too much skin”.
Virgin Australia notes on its website that travellers must wear “suitable clothing that covers [their] bottom half,” including shorts, skirts, and pants. Sleeveless shirts are allowed, as well.
The airline shared a statement with Sun Online Travel, in which it said its intention is always to make travellers feel “welcome and have a comfortable journey.” The company added that it was reviewing the incident.
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