Doctor blasts airline after being told her outfit was 'too distracting' to board plane

Elizabeth Di Filippo
Dr. Tisha Rowe was threatened with removal from her flight for wearing an "inappropriate" outfit. Image via Twitter.
An American Airlines flight attendant reportedly threatened to remove Dr. Tisha from her flight for wearing an "inappropriate" outfit. Image via Twitter.

A Houston, Texas woman has taken to social media to criticize American Airlines after she was removed from a recent flight for wearing what was considered an “inappropriate” outfit.

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Dr. Tisha Rowe, a family medicine physician was travelling from Kingston, Jamaica to Miami, Fla. on June 30 when she was approached by a flight attendant and asked to put a jacket over her “assets.”

“So, American Airlines just told me I couldn’t board the flight without putting a jacket over my ASSETS. My shorts covered EVERYTHING but apparently was too distracting to enter the plane,” Rowe wrote on Twitter. “I guess that’s why they are AMERICAN airlines.”

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In an interview with TODAY, Rowe said she was about to take her seat on the flight with her eight-year-old son when a flight attendant asked her to come to the front of the plane. Having already passed a different flight attendant and gate agent, Rowe was not expecting to be confronted for her choice in attire.

“She looked at me, and these are the parts that are hard to put into words,” Rowe wrote. “She looked at me with the kind of the look that mean girls in high school give a girl that no one likes, like a look of disdain of, ‘You’re nothing.’ And the first words out of her mouth were, ‘Do you have a jacket?’”

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When Rowe replied that she did not have a jacket with her, the flight attendant said she could not get back on the plane “dressed like that.”

Rowe, who later shared a photo of herself dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, asked the flight attendant if she could board the plane wearing a blanket around her waist.

“Her response was, ‘Yeah, because that’s the only way you’re getting on here,” she said. “I wrapped the blanket around my waist, and I was upset.”

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Once on the plane, Rowe said she was uncomfortable and “felt sick” about the interaction. “Writing has always been therapeutic for me, so I whipped out my phone and I just wrote (on Twitter).”

“We are policed for being black,” Rowe tweeted. “Our bodies are over sexualized as women and we must ADJUST to make everyone around us comfortable. I’ve seen white women with much shorter shorts board a plane without a blink of an eye. I guess if it’s a ‘nice ass’ versus Serena [Williams] booty, it’s OK.”

The thread quickly went viral, with thousands of commenters who joined Rowe in her disappointment with the airline.

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“How else should one dress in June from Kingston to Miami?” an outraged user tweeted to American Airlines. “Sweats? Jeans? Turtleneck? Three-piece suit? Floor length skirt? Her breasts and butt were covered. You policed her curves. Shame on you.”

Michelle Mohr, a spokesperson for the American Airlines told TODAY that Rowe and her son received a refund for their tickets and the airline is attempting to contact her directly.

“We are just terribly sorry for what happened to Dr. Rowe and her son, for their experience with us, and that is why we have apologized, and we really want to personally apologize to her,” the spokesperson said.

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According to Mohr, the airline’s Conditions of Carriage states that all passengers must “dress appropriately” and bans bare feet and “offensive clothing.”

“We want to ensure positive, safe travel experiences for everybody who flies with us. The guidance that we give to our passengers is simply to dress appropriately. Bare feet or offensive clothing are not allowed. So, that's pretty much using the good guidelines of common sense about what could be deemed offensive or inappropriate — showing certain amounts of skin that you would not show on the street, for example, of course, would fit into that 'inappropriate' kind of level, or if you had incredibly foul or hateful language that you wouldn't expect to wear out onto the street, that would fit that offensive clothing,” Mohr continued. “But we provide very simple guidance on it."

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Rowe says she believes her outfit fit the flier guidelines, and is an example of prejudice against women of colour, and women with curves.

"I always want to make sure that I'm comfortable in my skin," Rowe said. "I know that I have a lot of curves, but I don't want to be distasteful. I don't want to be that person. I'm 37 years old, I like wearing nice things that I feel comfortable in, but I'm not trying to show it to the world — especially not with my son.”

“I know exactly how I looked, the moment I stepped on that plane."

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