By Aisling O'Connor
A few days, a story of a young woman being told she can either leave a flight or cover-up went viral, with very good reason. 21-year old Emily O’Connor was flying from Birmingham to Tenerife, wearing a plain black crop top and orange high-waisted trousers when the airline, Thomas Cook had 4 flight staff around her to get her luggage to take her off the plane.
“I informed the staff that there is no “appropriate wear” policy stipulated online. I stood up on the flight and asked if anyone was offended, no-one said a word.”
“To top it off they allowed a man hurl abuse at me whilst the flight manager and 4 air staff stood and said nothing” the male passenger shouted, “Shut up, you pathetic woman, put a f***ing jacket on.” She said that they wouldn’t leave until they saw her put a jacket her cousin lend her on.“ They made comments over the speaker about the situation and left me shaking and upset on my own.”
“They announced that I was offensive and inappropriate in front of the whole flight. I was physically shaking, and they could see that, yet they continued to sexualise and ridicule me.” A spokesperson from Thomas Cook says: We are sorry that we upset Ms O’Connor. It’s clear we could have handled the situation better. In common with most airlines we have an appropriate clothing policy. This applies equally to men and women of all ages without discrimination. Our crews have the difficult task of implementing that policy and don’t always get it right.”
Thomas Cook’s inflight magazine says: Customers wearing inappropriate attire (including items with offensive slogans or images) will not be permitted to travel unless a change of clothes is possible.” Thomas Cook have also privately reached out to Ms O’Connor to offer an apology, and are investigating the situation. She created a poll on Twitter asking if what she wore was appropriate or not with 77% out of 137,142 participants so far saying it was and 23% saying it was not appropriate for flying.
Having a look at the responses to her thread, it varies, but a lot fully support her: One said: I work at an airport, people come through dressing like this all the time? I’ve seen guys wearing less on a stag do for fun and not one have I ever heard of someone not being allowed on for inappropriate wear? Come on @ThomasCookUK not cool.”
Another says: I’m crew myself and would not think twice to ask you to cover up, there is no policy on what you can and cannot wear! This is awful to see that the crew onboard made you feel that way, disgusting!” One user shared a different viewpoint saying: Although you do look lovely, I don’t think it’s flight appropriate wear personally. Planes are cold and I hate sitting next to someone where it’s quite likely , there’ll be skin to skin contact for hours. Creeps me out, esp with big hairy men. A little cardi = probs solved.”
Some users also thought it was hypocritical for Thomas Cook (@thomascookcares) to tweet about International Women’s Day on March 8th, 6-days after Ms O’Connor’s flight.
This leads to the question, are we really still at a point where women actually can’t wear what they want? Can we not wear clothing appropriate for warm weather? Or even just something that we feel comfortable in? God forbid, our shoulders are on display.