Woman wearing short overalls and southwest airline behind them

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‘Since when do airports have a dress code’: Woman says Southwest Airlines worker refused to let her board because her ‘shorts were too short’

Does Southwest Airlines have a dress code?


Stacy Fernandez


Apparently, some airlines have a dress code for passengers. The problem is no one knows about them. Would you still fly with an airline if you knew they had a dress code?

In a since-deleted viral video that had more than half a million views, Katie Ludwig (@kludwig) shared that she was allegedly reprimanded by a Southwest Airlines worker who refused to let her board because her shorts were too short.

Now, airport or airline dress codes are not a common thing anymore (back in the day when flying was a novelty, people tended to dress up for the occasion), so Ludwig had no clue her shorts would be a problem, especially given that it was a short flight and it was hot outside.

In a follow-up video, Ludwig was extremely apologetic, though it truly doesn’t seem like she was breaking any rules.

Does Southwest Airlines have a dress code?

There was no mention of a dress code in the Code of Conduct document available on Southwest’s website, and no relevant information showed up when we searched for a “dress code” on the site.

The only mention of a dress code we found was in a guide specifically for people traveling with a guest pass (a voucher Southwest Airlines employees can give to a friend or family member so they can fly on standby for free).

But what’s written is quite vague.

“Dress to impress. While Southwest’s dress code is relaxed and casual, you will be expected to present a clean, well-groomed, and tasteful appearance,” the guide states.

This isn’t the first time Southwest has been called out for enforcing the vague and little-known policy.

Enforcing Southwest’s dress code

Just a few years ago Southwest told a woman she couldn’t board her flight because of how she was dressed, BuzzFeed News reported. The staff at the boarding gate told the woman her clothes—a black halter top with a red maxi skirt and sneakers—were “lewd, obscene, and offensive.”

It never crossed the woman’s mind that her attire would be an issue, especially given that it would be a warm 77 degrees when she landed at her destination. She explained that she was stopped by a worker at the boarding gate specifically because of her top, and while she asked to see the written dress policy, the worker couldn’t produce one.

“I was initially shocked, then I was very annoyed because this is discriminatory. I literally cannot remove these from me, I’m a woman, and they’re mine, I can’t leave them at home, I can’t detach them so for you to tell me that my body part is offensive, I don’t know what you want,” the woman said, referring to her breasts.

The woman was only allowed to board after the captain, yes the literal captain, loaned her a t-shirt.

While the company ended up apologizing and offering her a refund, the woman said that what they really needed to do was revise their policy.

“I think they need to take the initiative and figure out what they deem is or isn’t acceptable and let that be the standard across the board, period,” she said.

The Daily Dot reached out to Ludwig via TikTok comment and to Southwest via email.

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