A Chicago woman says she wasn't allowed to board her Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Chicago because employees said her outfit was "lewd, obscene and offensive."
Kayla Eubanks was traveling through LaGuardia Airport and headed to Midway Airport Tuesday when she says she was stopped while attempting to board her flight.
"I get to the gate and the lady’s like, 'You’re not gonna be able to board.' I’m like, 'Why not?' and she’s like, 'Well you need to cover up,'" Eubanks told NBC News in an interview.
Eubanks said she requested to see the company's policy, a process that took several minutes for employees to find.
According to Southwest's website, the company can refuse to transport passengers who are "engaging in lewd, obscene or patently offensive behavior, including wearing clothes that are lewd, obscene or patently offensive."
Eubanks said the employees cited that clause in refusing to allow her onboard.
"She basically said, 'This is our policy and I’m deciding that what you’re wearing isn’t appropriate,'" Eubanks said. "She’s like, 'Are you gonna put [a shirt] on and I was already kicked off the flight, my name [has] already been removed or whatever and I’m like, 'It doesn’t seem like I have much of a choice' and she’s like, 'OK we’ll put you on the next flight.'"
In a statement, Southwest Airlines said employees "are responsible for the well-being and comfort of everyone onboard the flight."
"We do our best to promote a family-centric environment, and we count on our customers to use good judgment and exercise discretion while traveling," the airline said. "Regarding our policies, each situation is very different, and our employees are responsible for following our Contract of Carriage."
The airline said Eubanks was allowed to travel to her destination and was refunded her fare "as a gesture of goodwill."
Still, Eubanks said the incident was "disheartening."
"It just sucks because I feel like as a woman, especially a Black woman, my body is always being policed, over-sexualized," she said. "And for the two employees to say that my breasts are obscene, lewd and offensive... that is directly tied to my womanhood, you know? Like I can’t leave them at home, I can’t change them, I’m not going pay to get them removed, I’m not going to get a breast reduction, so I can board a Southwest flight. A lot of people were like, 'Don’t be difficult. You could’ve just put on the shirt.' And I’m like, 'I shouldn’t have to.' My boarding a plane shouldn’t be left to someone else’s personal biases that doesn’t make sense to me… the double standards - it’s not fair, it’s not."