World America 10 Jul 2019 American Airlines ba ...

American Airlines barred a women from flight, Unless 'Covered Up'

Published Jul 10, 2019, 8:07 pm IST
Updated Jul 10, 2019, 8:08 pm IST
According to Rowe's account, her son told her,'Mommy, follow the rules.' 'I'm trying to explain to an 8-year-old Mommy didn't break rules.'
Once they settled in their seats, her son covered his face with the blanket and she saw that he was crying. (Photo: Twitter/@tisharowemd)
 Once they settled in their seats, her son covered his face with the blanket and she saw that he was crying. (Photo: Twitter/@tisharowemd)

Miami: American Airlines barred a Houston woman and her 8-year-old son from boarding a flight on June 30 unless she "covered up".

Shannon Gilson, an American Airlines spokeswoman said, “the company has fully refunded the passenger for the flight.” Tisha Rowe, who was flying from Jamaica to Miami, told The Washington Post on Tuesday that she hasn't received any notification of a refund or any money sent to her account.


Rowe and her son were returning home after spending a week in Jamaica. She recalls that on reaching the Kingston airport, she recalls that she was sweating and stepped inside a bathroom to cool off before boarding.

She was wearing a romper with a tropical print. "I looked at myself," she said. "I knew how I looked, front and back."

A female flight attendant asked Rowe to step outside to talk, as Rowe boarded the plane with her son.

"Do you have a jacket?" Rowe recalled the flight attendant asking, to which she responded no. "You cannot get on the plane dressed like that."


Rowe didn’t want to risk her flight, so she finally asked the attendant for a blanket.

Once they settled in their seats, her son covered his face with the blanket and she saw that he was crying.

According to Rowe's account, he told her, " 'Mommy, follow the rules’.” "I'm trying to explain to an 8-year-old Mommy did not break the rules."

Rowe was nauseated for the rest of the flight. When the flight landed, she said, she encountered another female passenger who was wearing shorts that were shorter than hers but who did not face any issues boarding the plane. When Rowe told her what happened, she gave Rowe her name and phone number, agreeing to back her up in a formal complaint.


"The difference between that woman and me is she was about a size 2, thin," Rowe said. "It's hard to understand if you are not a double minority, a woman and a black, how it's not pulling a card."

After hearing about Rowe’s experience, the airline reached out to her, said Gilson

"We apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience," she said. "We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us."


Rowe said that the airline has tried to get in touch with her repeatedly, but she only wants to discuss the incident in writing, via email.

Rowe's attorney, Geoffrey Berg of the Houston law firm Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, said an American Airlines representative told him that the carrier does not want to be portrayed "in this way."

"In the face of a sexist, racist attack on one of their passengers, this is the corporate version of thoughts and prayers," Berg said. "The best way to not be portrayed this way is to not behave this way."


The dress code that American Airlines references for the customers in its conditions of carriage: "Dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren't allowed."

"If they expect passengers flying around the Caribbean in June in snowsuits, they probably ought to put that in the contract of carriage," Berg said.

Rowe also said American Airlines hasn't informed her of how to file a complaint, even after  asking them for information and correspondence to be in writing. An acknowledgement of the negative effect of the dress code on passengers and making changes to it would be an appropriate response by the airline.


"If you really want to make it right, you have to realize this was traumatic for both of us," Rowe said. She added that a refund isn't enough to erase the memory of that incident for her young son.

This is not the first incident of its kind involving American Airlines. In April 2018, an American Airlines flight passenger confronted a woman named Amber Phillips from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, to Washington. A flight attendant asked Amber to get off the shuttle and then called police.