Can airlines kick off passengers who are dressed inappropriately?

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

As the busy summer travel season continues, some passengers may find that the cramped confines of an airline cabin can significantly magnify certain disagreements.

Sometimes, airlines or the flight attendants end up in the middle of such issues.

A recent airline survey aimed to tackle one such issue, asking whether airlines should have the authority to kick off passengers "who they deem are dressed inappropriately."

The issue arose in the spring when a burlesque performer said JetBlue Airways did not allow her to board the plane, citing her "short shorts."

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

JetBlue responded that while she "was not denied boarding, the crew members politely asked if she could change. The customer agreed and continued on the flight without interruption."

The poll of 2,500 travelers by found that 59 percent of respondents said airlines should have that authority. Thirty-three percent said no, and 8 percent had no opinion.

Some airlines may not have particular written rules pertaining to dress codes, but the issue could fall under more general rules.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, for example, has language in its contract of carriage under "Refusal to transport" saying Delta may refuse to transport passengers when "the passengers conduct creates an unreasonable risk of offense or annoyance to other passengers."

The contract of carriage also states the airline can refuse to transport passengers for a number of other reasons, including a "malodorous condition," a passenger who is barefoot, someone one who appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, or someone with a contagious disease that may be transmissible to other passengers.

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