Southwest Doesn’t Approve Of Your Cleavage-Baring Outfit, Young Lady

Know how you can avoid situations you have to apologize for later, Southwest? Stop giving ridiculous reasons to passengers why they can’t fly. In this case, a woman claims an airline worker told her she’d have to cover up her cleavage before boarding the flight. Her response? Too bad. Not gonna do it.

The woman tells CBS New York she was chatting with the Southwest employee before a 6 a.m. flight from Las Vegas to New York on June 5, while wearing a cotton black dress, flannel shirt and a scarf. Suddenly, the worker told her the cleavage she was showing was inappropriate and she’d have to button her shirt if she wanted to board the flight.

“I was stunned more than anything,” she told the station. “We had been chatting about the experience of being up and awake at 4:30 a.m., and then her tone changed quite suddenly. It wasn’t until I walked away from the check-in counter that her words made an impact. Then I got indignant and self-conscious.”

She says it had been hot in Las Vegas, and most people were dressed accordingly. She went ahead and kept her outfit as it was, and boarded the plane without incident.

A Southwest spokesman told Jezebel that the airline offered the woman an apology and a refund as a “gesture of goodwill,” but that their Contract of Carriage allows them to refuse to transport a customer whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.

The passenger says she likely will not fly Southwest again, if the hidden cost is that she or other passengers will be shamed or judged.

“If Southwest wants to impose a dress code, they are entirely within their rights as a private company. If they would like to ask all of their customers to wear big blue sunhats, that’s their business. What bothered me was not knowing what might set off an individual employee, who could prevent me from boarding based on their personal opinions,” she added.

Woman Says Southwest Told Her She Couldn’t Board Flight To N.Y. Due To Her Cleavage [CBS New York]


Edit Your Comment

  1. uber_mensch says:

    Pictures or it didnt happen! :)

  2. El_Fez says:

    Pics or GTFO?

  3. shamowfski says:

    Useless without pics?

  4. shamowfski says:
  5. VintageLydia says:

    Especially since “too much cleavage” is so subjective. What’s low cut on one person isn’t on another, and take it from a well endowed lady, even turtle necks can draw attention to my bosom so “covering up” isn’t always an option :/

    • longfeltwant says:

      Widely available are shirts which encircle the neck. That will always be covering up, and nobody will ever throw you off a plane for wearing a turtle neck.

      • Spaghettius! says:

        she was coming from Vegas. Where it is hot, because it is the desert. Where one does not wear turtle necks.

        • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

          People say that about me when I wear my Speedo. That’s IF I forget to shave.

        • CoachTabe says:

          But apparently they wear flannel. Nice try.

        • Peri Duncan says:

          I’d buy her “It was 115 degrees and I was trying to be cool” if she wasn’t wearing a flannel shirt. That ruins her argument.

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        You’re absolutely right. They way she was dressed, she was asking for it.

        What year is it where you live–1880?

    • pk says:

      I agree with you. I can look obscene in a regular scoop neck t-shirt. You can’t help it if you have big boobs. I see nothing wrong with her outfit.

    • soj4life says:

      When you can see the curve of her breast start to come back in, that is a bit much.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      She looks obscene. I have 38 EEE breasts and I still think that is obscene. We have to leave the judgement in situations like this to employees. It’s not like it can be left to strangers, or like there is an objective way to measure something like that.

    • Lisse24 says:

      I am also large chested – 36 G. And I have never – NEVER – shown that much cleavage. Even in my bathing suit. Even on 100+ degree days. If anything, because of my proportions I am all the more wary of how much cleavage I show.

      At the moment, I am wearing a blue tunic top which would be perfectly fine on anyone else, but I’ve thrown on a light chemise underneath so that I can bend over or sit (where it tends to droop more) without having to worry.
      If I can dress taking my proportions into consideration, so can this woman and her breast size shouldn’t be used as an excuse.

  6. CharlesFarley says:

    What if Kevin Smith was showing too much cleavage? Would he get booted for being lewd or portly? Perhaps both?!?

  7. PadThai says:

    looking at the pic.. it’s really not that bad.

  8. Blackadar says:

    Good thing it was Southwest. Most airlines would have charged an extra fee for that much cleavage.

    • xspook says:

      “would have charged an extra fee for that much cleavage.”


      would have charged an extra fee for that much baggage

  9. Vox Republica says:

    (some half-hearted joke about checking oversized luggage and/or overhead storage)

    Sorry, I’ll tender my comment resignation forthwith.

  10. crispyduck13 says:

    I really liked her statement, she’s absolutely correct. If Southwest wants to have a dresscode for passengers that’s their right as a private business, but it should be detailed and specific and posted somewhere that people can read it before giving them their money.

    • rick perrywinkle says:

      And what would that detailed and specific policy be? No nipple? At least 3/4 of the breast area must be covered? It is difficult to does not exclude every possible garment option, which is why Southwest fell back on a general policy of clothing that is ” lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.” Looking at the picture on the link, I don’t think it is offensive at all, but I don’t know how to prevent that.

  11. Concat says:

    People dress like that everywhere you go… even at formal events…

    Very strange, but it is just one employee. The OP is being a bit harsh by boycotting Southwest after an apology and a refund. It could happen at any airline, seeing as how it was one individual making a judgement call.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I don’t think she’s being harsh by boycotting. Southwest chooses to operate with a very vague policy that allows for a lot of individual employee interpretation. She’s acknowledging that this could very well happen again, regardless of the apology/refund, and she’s choosing not to take that risk.

      • Concat says:

        Yeah but that’s every policy, everywhere.

        Or do other airlines have an acceptable skin to clothing surface area ratio in their policies? Do other airlines get out the measuring tape and size up the cleavage? Or could you get on board with nothing but pasties over your nips?

        • bluline says:

          So what happens when two employees of equal rank disagree on what’s acceptable and what’s not?

        • crispyduck13 says:

          Not that I know of, but no other airline has been making these random modesty judgments. If Southwest wants to go there they need to be specific about their issues with too much leg/boobs/fat. It is ridiculous for paying customers to have to worry about whether they are modest enough for a gate agent RIGHT BEFORE THEIR FLIGHT. WTF is this Afghanistan?

          • longfeltwant says:

            They don’t have to worry about it, because it is trivial to simply dress conservatively. If you want to dress immodestly, then you have the freedom to do so, and also to worry about the attendant possible circumstances.

            • crispyduck13 says:

              What you deem “immodest” is subjective, and may seem perfectly normal to another person. I suppose you also think rape victims who stumble into the ER wearing a skirt were “asking for it.”

              • Concat says:

                Did you seriously just say that?

                • crispyduck13 says:

                  Yes I did, in response to this statement:

                  If you want to dress immodestly, then you have the freedom to do so, and also to worry about the attendant possible circumstances.

                  I don’t really care if no one else caught the plain as day insinuation in there.

                  • longfeltwant says:

                    YES! Thank goodness you got my insinuation, which was that if you want to dress immodestly, then you have the freedom to do so, and also to worry about things like being refused access to places of business, which is exactly what we are talking about here in this forum today.

                    I’m not sure where you got the rape thing, though; overreact much?

              • longfeltwant says:

                Of course it is subjective. Everything is subjective, Crispy. And yet, here we are, on planet earth, with a whole subjective justice system and subjective social conventions and subjective communications, making it all work. Saying it is subjective is a way for you to ignore the actual facts; it is a tool by which you refuse to address the issue, which is whether or not the clothing was appropriate in our collective subjective opinion.

                I wasn’t at the gate to judge for myself; all I have to go on is a photo taken after a woman had pulled her shirt into a position for her to take a self-photo, specifically with the intent to garner sympathy on the internet; and yet that photo still shows borderline coverage, in my opinion. You don’t get to dismiss the controversy as “subjective”; reason demands that you actually apply thought to the subject.

                • Auron says:

                  How can a system that relies on facts (at least on paper) be subjective? IF a person commits a heinous crime and there are sufficient facts to prove they committed said crime, how is that subjective? Does it go something like this: Prosecution: What was the cause of death? ME: In my subjective opinion, the bullet(s) I dug out of the persons heart/brain are the subjective cause of death. Jury: It is subjective that this person committed this crime, but since it is only subjective, we can’t find them guilty.

                  • Concat says:

                    Do we have to have a disclaimer about rape any time we talk about women and their choice of clothes?

                    He’s just saying that if you’re scantily clad, then people will treat you differently than if you’re dressed modestly. People will stare, get offended, get turned on, get grossed out… this isn’t exclusive to women. He didn’t even specify female or male…

                    But we assume women and rape rape rape? Ok.

                    • Concat says:

                      I think I replied to the wrong comment… ugh.

                    • Auron says:

                      I was gonna say…..they said that the entire judicial system is entirely subjective, when in fact, it isn’t.

                    • longfeltwant says:

                      Except that it is. If it weren’t subjective, then we wouldn’t pay an army of judges to sit in courtrooms and make decisions. Have you ever noticed how all court cases require a judge to decide them? That’s because law is subjective, and law is subjective because just about everything is subjective. Hence my dismissal of Crispy’s attempt to wave off the controversy using that word.

                  • longfeltwant says:

                    You said it: it relies on perfect facts and perfect laws… in theory. In reality, laws need interpretation and facts need deciding. You may have noticed that all courtrooms are led by “judges”. It is *literally* their job to make subjective decisions. All law is done this way. In the exact same way that airline policies have vague boundaries, so do laws.

                    • Auron says:

                      If there is evidence that someone was in a certain place at a certain time, that is not subjective. If that same person is photographed or recorded using a weapon against somebody else, that is not subjective. If said person dies because of the weapon used on them, that is not subjective. But in your world, all of that is subjective and therefore the person should be found not guilty, So no, the legal system IS NOT subjective. The legal systems deals with FACTS and EVIDENCE.

                • crispyduck13 says:

                  Are you serious? You’re assuming that your opinion on her modesty is the same as the collective opinion of…all Americans I guess. Yet at the same time you’re accusing me of ignoring the facts by saying her immodesty is subjective? Apparently your word is king and anyone who disagrees is therefore ignoring the “collective subjective opinion.”

                  Jesus. I know we’re not supposed to take this commenting shit too seriously, but in truth I really hope I never meet you in real life.

                  • longfeltwant says:

                    No, not at all. (Where did you get that idea? From which of my words did you infer that?) I might say that my ideas of modesty are somewhat similar to the agent who first objected, but I didn’t say that either.

                    What I did was reject and dismantle your attempt to dismiss the controversy as subjective. Its subjectivity is exactly the issue, so your rhetorical hand-waving was meaningless to the conversation.

                    You said that the standards were vague enough that people would have to worry about them, and I told you that is false, because it is trivial to stay well within the bounds, where most people stay all the time. Then you said it’s subjective, which is meaningless. Then you took off on a tangent having nothing to do with what I said.

                • Coffee says:

                  The controversy is inherently subjective. I don’t know where you get off establishing some arbitrary “acceptable level of dress” as if it were an objective guideline that she violated.

                  • longfeltwant says:

                    You said what I said (“it’s subjective”) and then you mis-summarized my post as saying the opposite of that. So, I’m confused and don’t know how to reply.

                    • Coffee says:

                      In your previous post, you’d made the comment “If you want to dress immodestly, then you have the freedom to do so, and also to worry about the attendant possible circumstances,” which seems to imply that there is some concrete, tangible “moral” way to dress and she is violating that convention. That’s where I’m saying you seem to be ignoring subjectivity because you have – in your mind – already established what is modest and what is immodest. Or maybe I’m wording it wrong…maybe you’ve subjectively established what you feel are the objectively appropriate social norms.

                      That’s where the subjectivity come into play. I looked at the picture and saw her outfit. To me, it doesn’t look immodest. A little revealing? Perhaps, but not inappropriately so. Crispy feels the same way. Can we know what it looked like at the gate? No. But if it’s anything like the picture, it is not, in my opinion, something that one of the company’s employees should be commenting about unless there’s an objective guidelines against which to judge it.

          • Concat says:

            I agree with you. It is ridiculous.

            But no one is offering anything better than a subjective policy. I mean, it’s either that, or they get out the measuring tape and have a thousand dress code policies.

            And every airline makes these judgements. I mean you may not believe me, but perhaps you’ll believe google. American Airlines kicked someone off for having baggy pants. Yeah. Baggy pants. Well now, what’s too baggy? Better get out the measuring tape again…

          • Concat says:

            I agree with you. It is ridiculous.

            But no one is offering anything better than a subjective policy. I mean, it’s either that, or they get out the measuring tape and have a thousand dress code policies.

            And every airline makes these judgements. I mean you may not believe me, but perhaps you’ll believe google. American Airlines kicked someone off for having baggy pants. Yeah. Baggy pants. Well now, what’s too baggy? Better get out the measuring tape again…

          • kc2idf says:

            “If Southwest wants to go there they need to be specific about their issues with too much leg/boobs/fat. “

            Well, it isn’t legs, remember?

            I don’t think Southwest remembers.

    • Coffee says:

      That individual make a judgment call (more like a judgmental call) is the face of the airline, and as such, her moralistic behavior reflects badly on the company.

      • Coffee says:


      • Concat says:

        Honestly if you fly enough you’ll encounter at least one rude employee from every airline. What then? The train?

        Southwest isn’t sticking by the employee… they offered a refund and an apology even though the woman wasn’t refused boarding.

      • longfeltwant says:

        You think reflects badly? Huh. I thought it reflected just fine. Keep in mind that, of course, the woman pulled up her shirt when she took that picture, and her boobs were still all out. Do you think it’s okay to flash boobs all over public? If so, that’s just fine, there’s nothing wrong with advocating that; but that is a minority position.

        1. If the woman were hot, she wouldn’t be wearing a flannel; so we reject the heat argument.
        2. Thin shirts are plenty cool in any weather, buttoned up as high as a man would; so we further reject the heat argument.
        3. There are places to take ’em out, and places to pack ’em up. It’s okay to disagree with a company about whether their premises is a good place to take ’em out, but at the end of the day it’s up to the company.

        • Talmonis says:

          Take your “moral majority” line and go clutch pearls elsewhere. Nobody cares what “one million moms” types think.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Here’s the problem with “one employee.”

      This policy is not consistent, the employees don’t apply it equally (how many times have we heard about one employee having a snit fit over someone’s shirt and the passenger has NO TROUBLE on another leg of their trip with other employees), and it is enforced in a rude manner.

      If they’re going to have a dress code, they need to be consistent, and enforce it without making asshat spectacles of themselves or humiliating their customers.

  12. eccsame says:

    Her name is “Avital”
    I wonder if she’s ugly. They cut her face from the pic in the original story. It makes me suspicious. I can’t touch myself to that. Sorry.

  13. jeepguy57 says:

    So she was able to board the plane without incident?

    So what’s the story here? An opionated gate agent?

    Just another story that should’t make Consumerist headlines.

    • HFC says:

      I bet you spent almost as much time replying to this “unworthy” article as you did reading it.

  14. AllanG54 says:

    I wouldn’t have let her on for that crappy shirt and rope belt she’s wearing. The cleavage is nothing to write home about.

    • Vox Republica says:

      “The cleavage is nothing to write home about.”

      Hello Muddah
      Hello Faddah
      See these boobies
      You really oughta

  15. Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

    If she truly was dressed as it’s shown in the picture then I see nothing wrong with that – it no way fits my definition of obscene. Did it show cleavage, yes, but it wasn’t in your face (yes, ha-ha) and was not out of bounds with what you ordinarily see. I don’t see any reason to pick someone dressed like this out as inappropriate.

    • Vox Republica says:

      Dearest Clarabelle:

      As I’m sure you’ve seen in newsreels and in the papers, we are continue to make modest advances. After making camp only a few days ago, we’re already venturing east. The Germans we have captured are polite, even friendly—a bunch of boys, like the rest of us. Good people swept up by That Man. I have no doubts that soon, his ticket will be punched, and you can bet your sweet bippy that it’s Uncle Sam doing the punching!

      I’ll write you again once we establish camp.

      Faithfully yours,


      P.S., you should have SEEN the boobs on this one lady. Honk honk! AAAA-OOOOOOHHHH-GAAAHHH, AAAA-OOOOOOHHHH-GAAAHHH.

  16. CrazyEyed says:

    After looking at the source link…

    What, thats it? Thats normal for most women.

    Sounds to me like we have a jealous “A” cup airline worker.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Perhaps the employee experienced a resurgence of long-repressed lesbianish feelings, which she then attempted to re-suppress through psychological projection.

  17. Extended-Warranty says:

    I should be able to show a testicle if it is hot out

    • Polish Engineer says:

      Seriously… that’s the line of the day. Thanks for the laugh.

      I can see it now, shorts will slots right around the crotch.

      “Officer, it’s hot out. Besides, it’s not a whole scrotum, just the top part… “

    • Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

      go ahead, and I have the right to point and laugh.

  18. DrLumen says:

    Boohoo. Some woman may have taken a comment wrong and thought it was an insult. Even at that…. BFD!!! It’s not like they put her on a no fly list.

    Much ado about nothing.

    • pk says:

      You’re wrong about that. I would have been very offended and humiliated if this was me. OP is right to be angry.

  19. Mark702 says:
  20. DadCooks says:

    Could it be that her cleavage was enough to make her a “person of size” and therefore require a second seat purchase.

    Seems to me that the Southwest person who was “chatting her up” is a bit of a perv.

  21. highfructosepornsyrup says:

    Isn’t this some kind of sexual harassment or something? Or at least enough to get a big fat settlement…

    I’d also like to know what the definition of “…clothing [that] is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.” is.

    • stevenpdx says:

      A settlement? For what? The OP boarded the plane and flew. There are no damages.

      • therealchriss says:

        Obviously from the humiliation the OP felt by being put in this situation where she HAD to go to the media and have them post a picture of her cleavage on the internet for all to see.

        Oh the shame… the shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame!!!!

    • rmorin says:

      Please put down the internet. This comment is awful.

  22. JohnDeere says:

    bet the complainer had a small chest.

  23. JohnDeere says:

    hell its legal for women to go topless in new york. if thats not lewd than neither is this lol…

  24. rookie says:

    Appears to have it all,
    I don’t need that much at all,
    Especially all that I have saw…

    sorry, irrelevant…
    carry on…

  25. cameronl says:

    It wasn’t the cleavage that was the problem, it was the lack of taste in the outfit.
    I like boobs as much as the next guy, but geez, that’s a tacky outfit.

  26. Malik says:

    It’s a security risk

    You know how much she could smuggle onboard with those things hangin out?

    She could have had a tactical nuke tucked in there for all we know

  27. soj4life says:

    This was on jez? Looks I missed getting myself flamed. That is a bit much to be seen at 6 am, I doubt anyone needed any coffee on that flight.

    • who? says:

      I was thinking we aren’t getting the whole story. The outfit is a bit tacky, but not all that unusual for Las Vegas. Except that she was wearing it at 6 am, on the way home. The whole thing left me wondering if the problem was less about the outfit itself, and more about the fact that she’d been up partying all night, and wasn’t in optimal condition to board a plane.

  28. 6T9 says:

    Southwest Airlines rules. STFU.

  29. RayanneGraff says:

    Soo… it’s “hot” enough to hang her tits halfway out, but not hot enough to take off the FLANNEL SHIRT? Lol ok, makes perfect sense.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      She would need it once the plane gets in the air. It’s cold up there. Easier to wear it than carry it. I usually tie my jacket around my waist, though, and put it on open like her shirt at boarding time.

  30. saltyoak says:

    Suddenly lewd? Boss near-by….or bi-polar? Which groups are the most up tight to personally space freedom choices……keep your eyes and ears open… is your freedom being compromised even if it didn’t actually happen to you….rule the mass sheeples…

  31. quail says:

    I’ve seen this as the standard form of dress in Las Vegas and numerous other places. Not saying she’s right in dressing like this on a flight, I’m just saying. Because the picture shows part of the rounded bottom part of her bosom it does toy on the edges of being obscene. Plus, when she sits in that dress is even more exposed? Not complaining, but those dresses can be notorious for showing side boob & nipple when the wearer sits, which explains my fondness of visiting Las Vegas and numerous other places.

  32. Jawaka says:

    “I was stunned more than anything,”

    Really? You couldn’t move at all?

  33. framitz says:

    Much adoo about some cleavage. Most women have some, it really isn’t a big deal and the employee was obviously out of line.

    Leave the lady alone.

  34. dourdan says:

    but she did board the plane, right?

    “She went ahead and kept her outfit as it was, and boarded the plane without incident.”

  35. akiri423 says:

    It’s been 12 degrees F on every plane I’ve ever been on anyway, so she’ll have had to pull that flannel in a bit closer upon boarding…

  36. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    She wasn’t prevented from boarding. She was allowed to board without incident. But, they can’t possibly publish a list of every single possible offensive thing that people might wear, so they must rely on the sensibilities of employees to make that judgement call. Instead of being a spoiled entitled bitch about it, it wouldn’t have hurt anything for her to button the shirt. I wish she would have been kept from boarding and would have missed her flight. I am so sick of these people who think rules don’t apply to them and that they have to fight every rule tooth and nail.

    • Talmonis says:

      And I’m sick of pearl clutching conservatives. But we can’t all get what we want, now can we?

  37. tooluser says:

    “What bothered me was not knowing what might set off an individual employee, who could prevent me from boarding based on their personal opinions.”

    But for some reason people think it’s okay for TSA employees to do exactly this…

  38. acouvis says:

    Somehow I doubt anyone would complain if it was a case of a fat guy wearing a thong and Southwest refused to let them board…

    From how the story sounds it seems a bit outrageous, but it could easily be such an extreme that it actually does make sense.

  39. gman863 says:

    If her tits sagged past the armrest, would she have been required to purchase a second seat?

  40. donovanr says:

    Who is right all hinges on how she was dressed on the slut to nun scale. Personally I am happy when I hear Southwest denying fat people, offensive people, strange people as I don’t want to sit next to them. They can fly JetBlue and they will fit in just fine.

  41. Janus, Should I laugh or cry? says:

    “I’d buy her “It was 115 degrees and I was trying to be cool” if she wasn’t wearing a flannel shirt. That ruins her argument.”

    I always carry a button down sweater with me even when the temperature and humidity is incredibly high. Why? Because many buildings are freezing cold and I need to cover up my arms or I get so cold I shiver and can’t think.

  42. Talmonis says:

    I wholly approve of curvy women. Carry on madam.

  43. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    What would happen if she whipped those things out to breastfeed a baby?