Hypocrisy Abounds: Southwest Paints Bikini-Clad Model On Jet

Do you remember Kyla Ebbert? She was kicked off of a Southwest Airlines flight for wearing clothes deemed ‘too sexy‘ back in 2007. Nearly two years later, Southwest has come full circle: They’ve painted a swimsuit model on the side of one of their jumbo jets as part of a partnership with Sports Illustrated.

Beth Harbin, Southwest spokesperson explains:

“I think we are one of the only airlines out there that has the personality that can pull something like this off. We’re certainly not afraid to be different, not afraid to be edgy, not afraid to be fun.”

Southwest may not have the personality to pull this off, but they almost certainly have the multiple personalities. Given a choice between the “miniskirts will cause a disturbance” personality and the “giant flying swimsuit model” identity, we’re not really sure which which we prefer, though the latter may be more in line with their origins. Check out the flight attendant’s uniforms from back in the day.

Southwest Plane Sports Bikini-Clad Image [CBS 11]


Edit Your Comment

  1. nataku8_e30 says:

    Well, they’re probably only concerned about causing a disturbance inside the plane (inside the airport is someone else’s problem). Unfortunately, as a passenger, you won’t be able to see this after boarding.

    • Fresh-Fest-1986 says:

      @nataku83: I have a 40 foot woman fetish, similar to the guy sitting in the exhaust staring at her..um..eyes, so this development has me considering booking a flight to my next trip to Kroger.

    • PølάrβǽЯ says:

      @nataku83: Damn. And for a second there, I thought I might actually fly from Washington to Ohio this spring. Oh well, it’s cheaper to drive the four of us in the Suburban anyway.

  2. Davan says:

    Their customers cant see the semi-naked body on the outside of the plane, and therefore it cannot possibly cause people to fall into “half-naked-body” fits (think Baptist congregations). Makes sense to me

  3. Kris Thompson says:

    That plane is just tacky looking. Yuck.

  4. grapedog says:

    Southwest continues to show how they are different than all the other airlines.

    Whether this is a good or bad move, I couldn’t say, but at least southwest is trying to step out on a few limbs and do something new, unlike the other stodgy airlines.

    Personally, I could care less whats on the side of the plane as long as the plane itself is sound.

    Anyone who gets offended by this just needs to sign up for a lobotomy now…

  5. shorty63136 says:

    This is disgusting and hypocritic.

    You have a partnership with Sports Illustrated – the entire magazine. Not just the swimsuit edition.

    • Yossarian says:

      @shorty63136: The swimsuit edition is about all SI has going for it except for covers that coincide with one’s favorite teams/players/events.

      Why is it disgusting, exactly?

      I doubt Southwest lets killer whales on their planes, is it hypocritical to paint a plane like one? The idea that their idea of acceptable apparel (or species) on passengers must be the same as their idea of acceptable advertising seems a little odd to me.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @Yossarian: Ask most people what they think of when you say Sport Illustrated and I guarantee a lot of people will answer “Swimsuit edition”

      • shorty63136 says:

        @Yossarian: It’s disgusting b/c of the hypocricy. They kicked somebody off their plane for having on certain kinds of clothes but yet paint a semi-nude woman smack dab on the side of their plane?

        And I don’t wanna hear the argument that her clothing was inappropriate for air travel – because the same could be said about the model’s bathing suit.

        A lady wears a short skirt. Who is it bothering? What ruckus is it causing? If that argument is made, then it implies that menfolks are just carnal animals and simply can’t help themselves and it would’ve caused them to act out.

        But of course, it’s still her fault. /sarcasm

        • freelunch says:

          @shorty63136: Hey – guess what? they may paint a bikini clad woman on the plane, but they probably still won’t let you get on the plane in your bathing suit…

          go ahead, get upset, you deserve it… let out all that pent up frustration

          • uncooperative says:


            …but they probably still won’t let you get on the plane in your bathing suit…

            Especially if you need to lose weight. (That goes for guys, too.)

        • Yossarian says:

          @shorty63136: If you can’t distinguish between advertising on the side of a plane and crotch-shot apparel on the inside of a plane, you’re probably going to go through life easily disgusted. And clueless.

          • jamar0303 says:

            @Yossarian: It’s only “crotch-shot” if you think of it that way. Perv.

            • Yossarian says:

              @jamar0303: She gave a crotch-shot on the Today show when she was modeling what she wore on the plane. The difference is that she only flashed the TV audience her panties instead of what she was flashing the people on the plane.

              You think that someone who wore a miniskirt and no panties and rode her 15 minutes of fame into Playboy did this all by accident?

              I guess I’m missing the rationale for the “perv” commentary.

    • SacraBos says:

      @shorty63136: So go with the Michael Phelps wrap on the plane.

      “Fly High with Southwest!”

  6. morgasco says:

    So our planes are going the way of taxi cabs with ads? Yuck.

  7. rekoil says:

    Your link text to the old-school flight attendant uniform article is off by a character…

  8. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I’m not understanding the partnership. Is Southwest paying SI to have a model on their plane? Is SI paying Southwest to adverstise the sale of the swimsuit issue? Is there ANYONE who wouldn’t normally buy (or be aware of) the swimsuit issue, but will because they saw some model on an airplane?

    • LuluStarPony says:

      @AlteredBeast: They’re just reaching out to the “Will fly in an airplane but will not visit a supermarket” demographic. I don’t actually know how many people are in this demographic, but they’re thinking outside the box!

      • LuluStarPony says:

        @LuluStarPony: Actually now that I think about it, maybe they’re just trying to appeal to birds and other airborne creatures. That’s an untapped market. THINK OF THE PROFITS!

  9. Fresh-Fest-1986 says:

    That so looks like something straight out of the 80’s.

    They should just paint a picture of Robin Leach’s face next to her and drop gold pennies on all the poor people of the land.

  10. WaywardSoul says:

    Hypoctical yes, but personally I’m a bit disappointed that they didn’t choose to partner with Playboy.

  11. lalaland13 says:

    And when coffee is served on the plane, the girl’s bikini fades away and she’s naked.

    Wait, sorry. No coffee or drinks served on planes anymore. Just swallow your own spit, sir, if you care to hydrate yourself.

    • theblackdog says:

      @lalaland13: Southwest hasn’t cut back on that. The only time I have seen them warn that they might not be able to serve drinks was on a flight from Cleveland to Baltimore, but that was because the flight time was barely an hour.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:


        Odd..whenever I fly from Norfolk to BWI – a whole 35 minutes in the air – they pass out drinks! They usually take the orders pre-flight though.

  12. Carl says:

    From the story: “They’ve painted a swimsuit model on the side of one of their jumbo jets as part of a partnership with Sports Illustrated.”

    Southwest doesn’t have any jumbo jets.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      @Carl: Or to be more specific one of the ways they save money compared to a traditional airline is to fly a single design, the Boeing 737 which is by no means jumbo.

  13. Charles Mousseau says:

    I don’t understand how anyone can deny this is anything but patent hypocrisy.

  14. Plates says:

    It is probably not painted on, these are almost always decals since repainting planes is quite expensive.

  15. razremytuxbuddy says:

    This doesn’t strike me so much as hypocritical, but I think this mural will offend a large sector of Southwest’s female customers. It’s a bit like having a girlie calendar hanging in the office. Bad idea, Southwest.

    In a way, this reminds me of American’s dumbed down, pinked up website for women air travelers. That site was offensive to many women for a whole host of different reasons. Amazingly, the site is still outthere. [www.aa.com]

    Both Southwest and American have provided examples of why airlines maybe should avoid gender-based advertising altogether.

    • fairywench says:

      @razremytuxbuddy: They certainly have just offended this female customer. I fly several times a year, almost exclusively on Southwest. Well, let’s say I used to, because I’m certainly not going to now. It’s back to Priceline for me!

  16. Rob Weddle says:

    Check out the flight attendant’s uniforms from back in the day.

    Those, sir, are not flight attendants. Those are stewardesses.

  17. BeyondtheTech says:

    So, when the plane starts to ascend, does the bikini slide towards the back of the plane? I love my water-filled boobie pens.

  18. Murph1908 says:

    I don’t think we ever found out for sure, but I thought part of the issue with Kyla’s outfit was that she was giving a Sharon Stone to the other passengers boarding the plane.

    Her outfit wasn’t risque. But if she was going commando in that short skirt, the kiddies were catching a brief view of the cockpit.

    If that is the case, then the SI swimsuit pic isn’t hypocritical at all. Only if the partnership was with Hustler would it be a valid claim.

  19. s35flyer says:

    I think its great and anybody who doesnt needs to get a life and find something else to worry about. After all there may be some bug nearing extinction that needs saving.

    • fairywench says:

      @s35flyer: Yes, because it’s not like women are people, after all. They certainly don’t deserve respect.

      And since you are obviously not going to understand unless it’s spelled out for you, that was sarcasm. Sweetie, the 50’s are over. It’s not acceptable to objectify women any more. Unfortunately for you, we expect to be treated like human beings. Maybe you’re the one who needs to get a life, instead of spending all your time looking at porn and dreaming about the day you’ll finally find a woman who doesn’t find you repulsive.

  20. MyPetFly says:

    I wonder what effect on ticket sales that will have? “Yep, I’m flying Southwest because they put a babe on the side of the airplane, yesiree…”

    I don’t find it offensive, just stupid, especially in light of the earlier controversy.

  21. mythago says:

    There is nothing “edgy” about using T&A for advertising. It’s about the oldest and least imaginative trick in the book. Thanks anyway, Southwest.

  22. UnicornMaster says:

    I don’t have a problem with this, nor do I have a problem with miniskirts tight sweaters. Busses have had ads on the sides of them for years. If it keeps the price of my ticket down, I’m all for it.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      @DeanOfAllTrades: In the name of equal time, why can’t they also partner with Diesel or American Apparel and paint a hot dude with a bulging package on the other side?

      • Robobot says:

        @richcreamerybutter: If it makes you feel any better, some Metro buses in D.C. have ads with two hot, ripped guys being, well, hot and ripped. The ads are PSA’s for STD testing, though, so that makes them a lot less sexy.

        I’m always surprised they don’t catch a lot of heat over those ads, though.

  23. ludwigk says:

    They could have been even more hypocritical and painted Kyla herself on the plane.

  24. Hyman Decent says:

    Is Consumerist being hypocritical by criticizing Southwest when Consumerist featured a photo that prominently displayed a busty woman’s cleavage a few weeks ago?

  25. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    There’s likely no hypcrosy involved here. I suspect that the Kyla Ebbert incident was “manufactured.” It’s so preposterous that I think she and a Southwest employee whom she knew conspired to give her the trite “15 minutes of fame.”

  26. WeAre138 says:

    This is a good thing. If I crash in the ocean, I would rather float on a piece of debris picturing a giant boob until I’m rescued.

  27. theblackdog says:

    Whatever, I’m flying them anyway because they are the cheapest and I have yet to have a problem with them.

  28. Yamunation says:

    I think if I were the pilot, I’d be embarrassed to fly this plane. It’s quite tasteless.
    And yes, it is hypocritical for them to not allow a “sexy” woman on the plane, but paint a far more scantily-clad woman all over it.

  29. richcreamerybutter says:

    Would they be upset if I spray painted a large cock and balls on the model?

  30. menty666 says:

    Doesn’t that potentially represent a hazard on the tarmac? IOW, two planes are taxing along, all of a sudden the middle aged male pilot who’s not getting any at home suddenly gets distracted by the SW plane and the next thing you know they’ve hit another jet or a truck full of jet fuel.

  31. ZukeZuke says:

    And I’m stuck on Alaskan Airline planes with the pics of Eskimos and animals?!? Dammit! :(

  32. boomersix says:

    This story is why I love consumerist. I may not have put 2 and 2 together here, but Consumerist never forgets!

  33. JanetCarol says:

    what jerks. I swear, if they said what I was wearing was too sexy, I’d kick some ass

  34. Maulleigh says:

    Last time I checked, there were a lot of sports that had nothing to do with hot chicks in bikinis? Couldn’t they have put David Beckham on the plane? That would be hot. And not offensive.

  35. smrtypants44 says:

    where are the windows? did they paint over them?

  36. ironchef says:

    Even Hooters Air has more modesty on their plane’s graphics.

  37. proskills says:

    I’m really not seeing a problem here. If they want to spend $20,000 or however much it costs to paint a giant version of an amazingly good looking woman on the side of an airplane… I’m all for it!

  38. Corporate-Shill says:

    Can I have her telephone number?

  39. notanignoramus says:

    Just to correct the article…

    Southwest Airlines does not fly “jumbo jets.” That term refers to wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 747, 767, and 777, or Airbus 300, 310, 330 or 340.

    Southwest Airlines flies only Boeing 737 series aircraft. These are narrow-bodied (single-aisle) aircraft.

    I have no comment on how this information affects the model’s appearance, though. ;)

  40. sarahq says:

    Southwest is, unfortunately, unwilling to accept comments of any sort via email. You can only write a physical letter or call, but their customer relations department (1 214 792 4223) is only open 8-5 M-F Central time. (1994 called, Southwest. They want their customer service model back.)

    The email address for the marketing drone who wrote the blog post in question appears to be Christi.Day@wnco.com. A little googling seems to indicate all Southwest employees have emails in the firstname.lastname@wnco.com format. (The “wn” is from Southwest’s usual tail code and the “co” is for “company,” it seems.)

    And for future reference, should anyone need to EECB Southwest on some other issue, info regarding their board of directors is here: [investing.businessweek.com]

  41. tc4b says:

    If all that ad money means lower ticket prices, then… uh… well, never mind I guess.

  42. The_IT_Crone says:

    Wow… um. I’ll never fly Southwest because of this. I don’t know what I would have done if I had bought a ticket and been confronted with THAT as my plane. My god.

  43. RogueWarrior says:

    What the hell good is it on the OUTside of the plane?! Paint it on the ceiling. Gotta have something to entertain ourselves with. See, then you could sell the seats underneath the naughty bits for big bucks. Floundering airline problem solved. Damn, I’m good.

  44. pollyannacowgirl says:

    I don’t have a big problem with it, really.

    And I still doubt that that cheap whore looking girl was kicked off the flight for her outfit alone. There’s more to it. I’m sure she was a bitch to a flight attendant or something. She probably deserved it.

  45. Major-General says:

    Kyla Ebbert? Didn’t the Today Show have to do the on screen fuzz thing because she showed off her crotch while sitting on their set? Wearing the same clothes she had on the plane?

    Southwest, I love you.

  46. tworld says:

    This entire country has become insane.

  47. enderx says:

    Southwest didn’t have an issue with Kayle’s vagina until some customer complained about it.
    so no. They’re not.

  48. lrgabriel says:

    Are we complaining?

  49. Anonymous says:

    I think this was a genius way to buy into the NYC media market. With Southwest headed to LGA soon, this was an awesome tactic.

    Also, Kyla wasn’t thrown off a plane for wearing a short skirt. She flew her entire itinerary. Please check your facts consumerist.

  50. gman863 says:

    This reminds me of a comment made years ago about air travel by George Carlin:

    “Please return the stewardess to her original upright and locked position…”