In a recent Twitter post (but now deleted), 35-year-old Dumblonde singer and reality TV personality Aubrey O’Day said a male flight attendant forced her to take off her shirt in front of a plane full of passengers because he found it offensive.
O’Day said he didn’t have another shirt, so the flight attendant “knocked me over to fly.”
“I literally had to have my breasts in a bra in front of everyone around me in order not to be expelled,” said the flight.
American Airlines, on which the crash occurred in late September, is investigating.
There are two problems here. The first is the question of whether the shirt was inappropriate. The second is if O’Day was forced to undress in front of a cabin full of people.
On the TMZ gossip website, a witness / passenger said O’Day “was boarding the plane while wearing a black shirt with bold white letters on the front” which explained a vulgarity.
Another passenger took Twitter stating that O’Day’s shirt “was extremely vulgar”. He had “naked bodies from a music video and there were children in flight”.
When a passenger’s clothing reveals too much skin or shows offensive words and images, the airline’s policy obliges flight attendants to respond. To the airline I work for, we adhere to the guidelines in our flight manual, which is the bible of rules, regulations and procedures that govern all aspects of a flight.
A section called “Customer Non-Acceptance Conditions” states that the airline reserves the right to remove passengers for reasons that include:
▶ Unpleasant, unruly, disordered or violent behavior
▶ Apparent intoxication or under the influence of drugs
▶ Emission of offensive body odors
▶ Be without shoes or be dressed in ways that cause discomfort or offense to others.
American Airlines replied to O’Day on Twitter to ask the singer for her flight number and details. But apparently O’Day wanted to move on.
“I have no interest in further dealing with your airline,” he replied. “I am so offended and disturbed.”
As a flight attendant for over 30 years and as a frequent airline passenger, I am also offended and disturbed.
If O’Day wore offensive clothes, it was the flight attendant’s duty (not his choice, not his option, but his duty) to ask her to change her shirt.
If it was too restrictive and her clothing was really harmless, she deserves a rebuke and she deserves an apology from the assistant and the airline.
If he believed that the shirt was fine as it was, he would have to photograph it and post it on Twitter so that his followers could see that an injustice had been committed. At the very least, he could have described his clothes to validate the claim.
The news also reported that instead of retiring to a toilet to reverse the shirt and hide the alleged vulgarity, he took off his shirt in front of the surprised spectators, leaving her for a moment in a bra. He then published the full name of the flight attendant online and asked that he be fired for forcing her to undress in public.
It is unclear how a flight attendant could force a passenger to “undress in front of the whole plane”. The suggestion that he had the power to demand that she undress in public and that she had no choice but to obey seems unlikely.
As for the transmission of the flight attendant’s name on Twitter and the request to be fired, why not answer the airline’s investigative question and roll the termination ball?
As in the case of most veteran flight attendants, I was occasionally entrusted with the role of the villain to support airline standards. I met unruly passengers who were eventually removed from the plane by customer service agents or the police. I found myself face to face with the passengers who gave off such a bad body odor that – after loud complaints from offended passengers – the captain chased them off the plane.
I intervened with passengers who stumbled on the plane, stinking of alcohol, barely able to speak. On several occasions I have begged passengers to change their clothes because others have complained that their clothing was offensive.
If it weren’t for the villains of villains like us – like me, like the aforementioned flight attendant who was just doing his job – the big hairy man who gets on your next flight could fly dressed in a translucent Speedo.
It is our job to try to keep some decoration. Do we occasionally go too far? Maybe. But cautionary mistakes can make a person unhappy but allow another 150 passengers to breathe out (or breathe in, in case of body odor). It seems a far better solution than making the vast majority suffer.
And consider this: our in-flight manual illustrates the working rules that regulate sexually visual material. If naked or sexually explicit images (even on a passenger’s shirt) appear on the aircraft, flight attendants are required to remove the material.
If we don’t and a passenger makes a complaint, the airline can initiate an investigation. Crew members deemed abandoned in their duties are “subject to corrective action, up to and including resolution”.
By insisting on O’Day to hide pictures of what he believed was an offensive shirt, the flight attendant he wanted to see fired could have saved his job.