An odd one: A man dressed only in women’s underwear, platform heels and a sheer sweater was allowed to board a US Airways flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Phoenix less than a week before a New Mexico football player was removed from a flight on the same airline because he baggy pants were sagged so low that his underwear (men’s, I assume) was showing.
Setting aside the question of why TSA would have allowed a man dressed thusly to pass through security, should US Airways have a policy toward what kinds of clothes are acceptable for passengers to wear on a plane? While awaiting a security line last week prior to a trip to Amsterdam, I saw a man dressed in the manner typically associated with Jesus. Jesus Christ, that Jesus. Long flowing robe, rope belt, sandals. He was also carrying a strand of beads. TSA allowed him through. Also, he was headed, I could see on his boarding pass, to Tel Aviv. I’m not sure whether airport security should see that and say that we are not allowing a gentleman wearing an outfit most closely associated with Jesus to board this flight to Tel Aviv. Or whether airport security says something to the effect of Oh, there’s just another guy dressed like Jesus heading to Tel Aviv.
But the two people here – the cross-dresser and the low-pantser – were treated differently, and it pains me to suggest that race (LP is black, CD is white) played a factor here, but I’m not sure how else you explain it. I was wondering how it would have played out had the cities been switched, had CD been boarding a flight in San Francisco and LP boarding the plane in Ft. Lauderdale instead of the other way around. I don’t know, as I’m sure San Francisco has seen its share of cross-dressed passengers, and Ft Lauderdale its share of baggy-pantsed travelers. I guess it doesn’t matter.
So should airlines have a policy about how passengers are dressed? I’m sure they do, as we’ve had this issue before when a passenger was wearing a t-shirt with an saying on it that was not appropriate language for a planeful of passengers, some of whom were on the younger end. That passenger was removed from the plane. Someone had some common sense.
Why would the CD be allowed on the flight wearing only underwear? Who knows. Why was a guy wearing baggy pants kicked off a plane? Who knows. Maybe when it’s a white guy it’s “eccentric” and when it’s a black guy it’s threatening. And how did no passenger on the plane call over a flight attendant and say, “excuse me, but I’m not particularly comfortable flying next to a gentleman wearing only women’s underwear.” (If he were dressed in women’s clothes, rather than women’s undergarments I don’t think there’s much to discuss here. But he was not.)
Perhaps this is just two odd examples of low-level staff not doing their jobs well – LP shouldn’t have been kicked off the plane and CD should not have been permitted to board. Staff made two poor decisions, and those decisions happened to get published in the newspaper. But I can’t help but think that football player has now been dragged into a discussion equating him getting kicked off a flight, probably because he was dressed in a manner often associated with black teenagers, with a clearly disturbed individual dressed in a bra. And that reporters have likely called his house and asked what he thinks about being kicked off a plane for being a young black kid while this nutjob is allowed to board dressed like a 60-something year old Victoria’s Secret model. And that he then has to come up with an answer that is not, “you’re comparing what just happened to me to THAT?” while he sits there wondering how it came to be that Jesus walked through security, a nearly naked man walked on a plane, and he had to answer questions about whether that made sense.