Dr. Latisha Rowe was off to a vacation to Kingston, Jamaica, with her 8-year-old son. But that was nearly ruined at the American Airlines terminal in Miami. She had, she claimed, a “traveling while Black” incident.
Dressed in a shorts romper, obviously ready for the Jamaican heat when she was to land, Rowe was stopped by a flight attendant while she was heading to her seat. Rowe was informed by the attendant that she was inappropriately dressed for the flight. Rowe was forced to choose between wearing a blanket to cover herself — or leave the flight.
Rowe, a 37-year-old family medicine specialist from Texas, said that an American Airlines flight crew publicly humiliated her by “demanding she wrap herself in a blanket to conceal her dress, which they deemed ‘inappropriate,’” Boing Boing reported.
Rowe told BuzzFeed News she and her son were led outside the aircraft and an attendant asked if she had a jacket. Rowe, who didn’t know what was going on, replied, ‘No, I don’t.’ Finally, the flight attendant told her she could not board the plane as her outfit was too revealing.
“I felt powerless,” Rowe said. “There was nothing I could do in that moment other than give up my money and my seat to defend my position that I was completely appropriate.”
Rowe put on the blanket.
“After she wrapped the blanket around her waist, she said, another flight attendant came up and warned her not to make a scene, despite the fact that she was deliberately behaving calmly to avoid escalating the situation,” Boing Boing reported.
Regarding the incident, Dr. Rowe said, according to One Mile At A Time: “I turned, and I looked at my backside, and I kind of gave myself that, you know, girl check. Growing up, I lived in a very conservative household. Like, if my dad thought my shorts were too short, I was not leaving the house. So that’s just something that I’ve gotten into the habit of doing. I have a very curvaceous body, and I put my body in bold colors, so you’re going to see it. But it’s not vulgar. It’s not inappropriate. It’s not bad, you know? If you put someone who’s a size 2 in the exact same outfit next to me, no one would be bothered.”
American Airlines said in a statement: “We were concerned about Dr. Rowe’s comments, and reached out to her and our team at the Kingston airport to gather more information about what occurred. Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to reach Dr. Rowe or leave a message at the number provided. We want to personally apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience, and have fully refunded their travel. We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.”
Written by Ann Brown