Houston, TX — Latisha “Tisha” Rowe, a Black doctor from Texas, said she was humiliated when a flight attendant from American Airlines ordered her to cover up her “romper” in order to get on her flight home. The airline has since apologized and issued her a refund for her and her son’s tickets.
Rowe said she was wearing a bright-colored, strapless romper when she and her son were pulled aside while boarding a flight from Kingston, Jamaica on June 30. A female flight attendant then asked her if she had a jacket because she wouldn’t be allowed to get on the plane “dressed like that.”
Even though her shoulders, arms, and legs were visible due to her summer outfit, Rowe claimed there was nothing inappropriate that was exposed. She posted selfies on Twitter to show her outfit.
“Here is what i was wearing when @AmericanAir asked me to deplane for a talk. At which point I was asked to ‘cover up’. When defending my outfit I was threatened with not getting back on the flight unless I walked down the aisle wrapped in a blanket. #notsofriendlyskies,” she wrote in her tweet.
She was able to board the plane after covering herself up with a blanket. But she said the effects of the incident will remain in her and her 8-year old son, who covered his face with the blanket and started crying when they were seated.
“To me, that felt like a slap in the face, because I felt appropriately dressed,” Rowe told CNN. “But I’m being told indirectly, in front of my son that — you know, it felt like ‘you look like a slut, so let’s fix this.'”
Rowe pointed out that dress standards have usually been stricter for Black women, although the flight attendant who pulled them aside was actually Black as well.
“We are policed for being black. 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’ vs a @Serena Booty it’s okay…” she wrote on another tweet.
Meanwhile, American Airlines said they are investigating the incident.
“We were concerned about Dr. Rowe’s comments, and reached out to her and our team at the Kingston airport to gather more information about what occurred,” airline spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said in a statement. “We apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience, and have fully refunded their travel. 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.”