While preparing to fly March 2 from Birmingham, England, to the Canary Islands, Emily O’Connor wrote on Twitter that she was informed by Thomas Cook Airlines staff that her outfit — a cropped top with spaghetti straps and high-waist pants that exposed a section of her midriff — was “inappropriate” and “causing offense.” Thomas Cook Airlines has now apologized to O’Connor.
O’Connor had no trouble getting through airport security but said at least four staff members surrounded her once she boarded her flight, prepared to forcibly remove her from the plane if she didn’t change. In an interview with The Sun, a tabloid based in the United Kingdom, O’Connor called the incident “the most sexist, misogynistic, embarrassing experience of my life.”
“A gent two rows behind me was wearing shorts and a vest top and nothing was said to him,” she told the publication.
The woman said she asked other passengers nearby whether they were offended by her outfit, to which no one replied. Her humiliation was intensified, she said, when someone from the airline made comments over the speaker about the situation.
O’Connor also claims she was harassed by a man on the plane, who shouted, “Shut up you pathetic woman, put a ... jacket on.” The crew did nothing in response, she said.
Although her cousin gave her a jacket to wear for the flight, O’Connor said the staff did not leave until she “physically put it on.” She did not immediately respond to a message from The Post requesting comment.
In a statement to The Post on Wednesday, a spokesman for the airline said Thomas Cook’s cabin services director spoke with O’Connor to offer an apology.
Following an investigation into the incident, the airline says it wants to apologize to O’Connor again.
“We are sorry that we upset Ms O’Connor. It’s clear we could have handled the situation better,” the statement read. “In common with most airlines we have an appropriate attire policy. This applies equally to men and women of all ages without discrimination. Our crews have the difficult task of implementing that policy and don’t always get it right.”
Outside of a footwear requirement, the airline’s policy specifies articles of clothing with offensive slogans or images, according to a copy of the policy sent to The Post. Thomas Cook says passengers who wear inappropriate attire “will not be permitted to travel unless a change of clothes is possible."