Should airlines dictate what not to wear?

(Bob Andres,

(Bob Andres,

While you might think your revealing outfit or T-shirt expressing your social and political views shouldn’t be a problem, airlines might not agree, and they’re prepared to show you just how much if it comes to that, according to an Associated Press report.

Arizona State University graduate student Arijit Guha found that out from Delta Air Lines last week when he was blocked from a flight in Buffalo, N.Y., because he wore a T-shirt that said “Terrists gonna kill us all [sic].” Guha, who was mocking federal security agents and criticizing what he called racial profiling, told the AP he was exercising his free-speech rights and thought “it was a very American idea” to do so.

Delta, however, is a private company and while the First Amendment prevents the government from limiting free-speech rights, private companies aren’t held to the same standard, according to Houston law expert Joe Larson, who observed that it was a Delta pilot who confronted the passenger about the T shirt and not Transportation Security Administration agents.

Other airlines, such as Southwest, American Airlines and US Airways, which last year pulled a passenger from a San Francisco flight because of his sagging pants, also have confronted passengers.

Kenneth Quinn, an aviation lawyer and former chief counsel at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, told AP, “It’s like any service business. If you run a family restaurant and somebody is swearing, you kindly ask them to leave.”

If a person puts down several hundred dollars for a flight and is comfortable with what he or she is wearing, should the passenger be allowed on the flight if others are concerned or offended?

35 comments Add your comment


August 25th, 2012
2:21 pm I am more upset the with shoes, the rope as a belt, and the oversized plaid shirt thsi woman is wearing. Her cleavage is the only thing she got going for her, lol!

Hadron Koligher

August 25th, 2012
2:22 pm

I charge airlines a $100 surcharge before I book a flight with them.


August 25th, 2012
2:27 pm

Honestly, I am 16 and my parents raised me to never go on an airplane with anything other than what i would wear to school (with my very strict dress code) I would never dare to go on an airplane, a few hours or overnight, with even athletic shorts and a tshirt. It is merely disrespectful and I think everyone else should dress in what theyre comfortable in, yes, but they must also show a level of respect for the airline and those around them.


August 25th, 2012
2:33 pm

Why should a privately held business be above the law? This this mean the business owners can wire tap their own employees?


August 25th, 2012
2:45 pm

@Natalie is 100% correct and she has a great head on her shoulders!! Good for you, Natalie! I agree. Private businesses should be able to prescribe exactly what their paying customers are expected to wear on their property, as long as it is within reason, and “within reason” should be defined by the businesses Board of Directors, not some yahoo in public relations with no fashion sense.


August 25th, 2012
2:49 pm

Those who are concerned or offended by others’ pants or shirts are the ones who really have serious mental problem.


August 25th, 2012
2:59 pm

@Beitmeh: And what law would that be, Beitmeh? Go read the other article on this subject that’s linked in the first paragraph above and get back to us.

@Awi: I have a serious mental problem if I’m offended by some one wearing a Tshirt with the F word emblazoned across the front? The social fabric just keeps unraveling steadily…


August 25th, 2012
3:04 pm

I don’t see the problem with companies such as airlines which offers communal transportation saying what they expect their customers to wear and not wear. They are only looking out for the best interest of their many other customers and also making sure that they provide a certain level of class that again many of their customers enjoy. It’s like walking into a fine dining restaurant with no t-shirt and flip flops on, you will be asked to leave and it’s understandable why.

Kevin B.

August 25th, 2012
3:14 pm

Must be a slow news day at the AJC.


August 25th, 2012
3:29 pm

Unfortunately when flying Today, its like watching a version of the JERRY SPRINGER
SHOW up close and personal! One is never surprised by what some will wear!

[...] more at Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog). Share this news: Filed Under: Airline [...]


August 25th, 2012
3:53 pm

their not above any law, you walk into any buisnss (whitch are al privet owned) with fowel
words like the F-word on a shirt, the owners and or managers have every right to denie service and ask, tell, and or remove that person from their establishment, and should do so, so narrow minded disrespectfull people quit wearing that tash in public.
I agree with freedom of speech but can be done with out volger, offencive, disrespectfull, words on a shirt. there are other words that can be used, that are more impacting to the public to state an opinion then fowel language.
when i pay the prices for airline tickets (which are way to high and gone out of hand) i do expect a comfortable casual relaxing atmisphere and not fowel volger jestures on a shirt, or some person that can not put there pants on cause there to big with no belt hanging around knees, i really dont wanna see trash like that on my flights!!!!
So, any and every private enity needs to suppurt thier rights as well as MY rights and deny and remove trashy dressed atire from their PRIVET property!!!!! and quit letting a bunch of whinny cry babes pout, and push them around with stupid retarted lawsuites.


August 25th, 2012
4:01 pm

@AzCat A business can look at your emails at work, which is a form of wire taping. Also some employers run credit checks to see if you are a dead beat and they get by calling these “company policies”.


August 25th, 2012
4:31 pm

If you fly, don’t dress like an idiot. Simple. If you’re denied boarding, it’s because you’re an idiot.


August 25th, 2012
4:42 pm

When there is an upgrade available for business or first class, know who doesn’t get it? Those who are dressed like slobs!

Gwendolyn Stone

August 25th, 2012
5:18 pm

Yes. I do not want to be on a long flight having to look at offensive words, belly buttons, underwear, butt cracks or big boobs popping out of ladies shirts. It’s a shame that people do not check themselves or their kids when going out in public. Ladies especially. I am shocked by some of the dress I see everyday. I would like to to take pictures and say “Don’t you ever come out in public looking this again”. Stop it!!!!!


August 25th, 2012
6:45 pm

“The First Amendment prohibits government from limiting a person’s free-speech rights, but it doesn’t apply to rules set by private companies”

Very telling. Goes to show you that ALMIGHTY BUSINESS is and always will be more powerful than the government! The MONEY trumps everything. Plain as day. A GOVERNMENT is judged as TYRANNICAL if it so much as gives the slightest impression that of trampling on your so-called “freedom” (of speech in this case). However, a CORPORATION now…ohhhhh…that’s quite fine with these so called “freedom” loving folks – these “don’t tread on me”ers. I prefer to call them Fascists, because that’s what they really are. Either you have “freedom”, or you don’t.

Worked for the guy

August 25th, 2012
7:24 pm

Regarding the woman in the picture, I’m surprised she would go out in public looking like that in the first place. The outfit is butt ugly and anyone’s first impression would be that this woman has very little self-esteem so she defensively decided “not to care” what anyone else thinks and instead “wear what is comfortable.” I would be embarrassed leaving the house looking like that and I’m her size.

There are many dresses that will show cleavage but are less frumpy. Black is not always a slimming color. Slimming to the eye is more about proportion and line than color. And please …. even Crocs has more stylish but exceptionally comfortable shoes. I am guessing that this woman is in fact younger than her outfit would indicate, but as displayed, she looks in her 50s.


August 25th, 2012
7:59 pm

What kind of moron thinks joking about “terrists” in an airport is okay?


August 25th, 2012
8:23 pm

SheeshLouise: I’m sure you and your buddies could raise capital to start your own airline with no dress code rules so you can offend everyone you want. Until then, you live by the rules of the other people’s airline. It is a free country… you’re just not ENTITLED to do anything you want with, or on, other peoples private property.


August 25th, 2012
8:25 pm

Big boobs is fine by me. The cuss words on T-shirts; that’s a no go and so is relentlessly farting passengers I find the most offensive.


August 25th, 2012
8:42 pm

@Beitmeh: Both examples you provided are perfectly legal and break no laws. As pointed out in the other article that I referenced to you, the airlines’ conduct is perfectly legal, as well. Next time, try to be a bit more accurate and articulate when you start throwing around the phrase ‘above the law’, particularly when you have no idea what the law actually is. By the way, monitoring employees’ emails is not in any way a ‘form or wire taping (sic)’, or wire tapping. Selah.

Richard Simmons

August 25th, 2012
10:56 pm

I can only assume that English is not RGB’s native language. And listen up, people: you do NOT have a right to not be offended. Your very presence is offensive to me, yet I don’t go complaining about it and seeking to have you removed from view. When you finally learn to live with the rest of the world, you may discover life is much more pleasant. Stop trying to dictate how everyone around you must live.


August 25th, 2012
10:58 pm

Ohhh, there’s that code languauge – “ENTITLED”. Wonder what that means? Of course it’s so ironic that those who like to throw around that “entitle/d/ment” have the BIGGEST “entitlement” mindset of any people walking the face of the earth! So much so that from the time they are children they tell their parents in public to “F -off” (I ‘ve seen it with my own eyes) and yell at their parents for OVERSTEPPING THEIR BOUNDS in the house that THEY pay for! So much so that they think it to be perfectly ok to LIE about academic credentials to get jobs, shoot up movie theaters full of people when school gets tough and it looks like the life and accomplishments they felt they were “ENTITLED” to are not going to work out…or shoot up Times Square because they got laid off from a job… or blow the brains out of their children, or burn down the house with all inside because if life ain’t going to be as they feel they are “ENTITLED” they’d just rather take everyone else out with them. Or how about just go and TAKE from lands and nations of people simply because you have a bigger (or more) guns? There’s some “entitlement” for you to suck on.

Yeah… I got your “entitled”…right here! And that’s why I target my dollars the way I-I-I-I see fit, because while I believe in obeying the law, I neither live nor play by no one’s “rules”.

Vote for Pedro

August 26th, 2012
12:16 am

Next time I need to change my flight I am showing up in a speedo and Klan hat. Change fee waived.


August 26th, 2012
8:29 am

With grown arse men wearing their pants below their arse, by all means Yes, they need to be shamed into wearing something to cover themselves and act appropriately in public.


August 26th, 2012
8:49 am

I’m a fairly left-of-center kind of person but I believe a private business on private property has the right to refuse service for any reason. As for trash people who wear 4-letter word on their shirt, show butt crack, or have drooping pants, I guess it’s up to society to come down on them. I get tired of trash making things uncomfortable for the rest of civilized society.

Former airline employee

August 26th, 2012
9:02 am

I have denied boarding to crew members who were dead heading because they violated corporate dress code for traveling. I have even confronted the Chief Pilot and the In Flight Supervisors who demanded that I allow the crew members to travel even if it meant delaying a downline flight because of crew availability, and my mangers supported my decision. Many air line employees base the paying passenger dress code on the dress code that is required of them when they Non-Rev. They do vary it some because they are dealing with paying passengers.

I can tell you that I have told people to change shirts or turn them inside out when they have had curse words or promoted narcotic use. I have never had to call police to arrest anyone because they refused. In fact, I never had a single passenger (other then flight crews) complain or refuse to change their clothes when I have asked them to do so. Alot of it has to do with how you approach the passenger, how you present the problem, and what you offer them as a solution.

Of course, I do know many agents who would vary their idea of a dress code by how the person looks too.

Name (required)

August 26th, 2012
9:03 am

I shouldn’t have to see a fat person’s fat. There’s parts of skinny people I don’t want to see, too.

My Two Cents

August 26th, 2012
9:36 am

The woman looks like a homeless person. There is a lot more wrong with her outfit than low cleavage. .What is wrong with looking neat and presentable in public? Good for Delta or any other airlines for implementing standards when people apparently lack the common sense to know how to dress appropriately.

Mark Berryman

August 26th, 2012
10:04 am

If the attire, in the opinion of the privately held company, might cause others to be uncomfortable, cause a disturbance, or is offensive to others, the private company has a right to refuse service, whether it’s an airline, restaurant or amusement park. Obviously, by the photos posted on People of Walmart, that company does not exercise this right.


August 26th, 2012
1:35 pm

I do not care what you wear! Just fit in the seat, shut up and let’s go!


August 26th, 2012
2:45 pm

Do people forget that children fly too? Is it okay for people to walk onto a plane half naked or sporting (R) rated profanity tees for everyone under age of ten to be confronted with, because someone feels it is their “right” to be obscene? There is a reason why the FCC regulates broadcast programming between the hours of 6 am to 10 pm on “public” broadcast networks and why there are adult pay channels for those who are in need of porn, it’s because the majority of people in this country want to live in a “civilization”. The airlines need to post consistent obscenity, profanity, and indecency policies for their business operations that spell things out for those who are civilly challenged, perhaps using the FCC regulations as guidance. Do so, not only from the perspective of eliminating the visual molestation of children, but for sanitary reasons as well….do you really want to sit on a seat where someone stuck their butt crack for four hours??? I don’t think so…


August 27th, 2012
10:02 am

Dress code perfectly in order; nowadays in the name of “fashion” many wear passion rousing attire – uncalled for – women should cover upto knee (not wear half ,nay quarter, pants revealing thighs!) and show off cleavage and navel – also costumes with strong smell should avoid – in private do what you like, but in public MUST observe code – in the name of freedom, can you with Bikini or with dirty slogans on your shirt ? No please; one must obey rules for social decency – you go to star hotels under dressed? Or refuse to wear totally absurd gown and cap for graduation? Take it easy; then why protest ? Moral code should be established and observed.

Concerned Passenger

August 27th, 2012
1:28 pm

Airlines are no different from any other social setting — restaurants, malls, health clubs, bars, etc. Most have a minimum standard of dress for service. Why should airlines — and their passengers — have to put up with skimpy-dresses, vulgar dressing. Airlines are now like “mass transit of the skies”, so they should be able to require a dress code in order to be a passenger. As a passenger, I wish airlines would require men and women to wear shirts or blouses with sleeves, and not permit tank tops and halter tops. I am sick and tired of sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with smelly men in “muscle shirts” (read “stretched tank tops”) and women with skin showing. People no longer have any respect for others.