1/31/2008

Southwest Goes for Modesty

A woman flying on Southwest Airlines was asked to cover up her immodest clothing on a summer flight. Looking at a picture of what she was wearing that day, I don't think she was dressed that badly, but I can see how it could be a negative externality to others, or at least make family-type people uncomfortable. The media made it seem really bad, but after reading the article, the airline was fine with her putting a blanket over her legs. However, was a little skin worth all the negative publicity?


11 comments:

binoculars said...

What the heck - I have seen flight attendants wear that stuff on my flights before . I totally agree with you Matthew. She didn't wear anything that bad. I have seen girls wear more revealing clothes than that here in school. And the second thing is she wore that in the middle of summer - this is normal.

Dr. Tufte said...

One of the best words I've ever see coined was "offensensitivity", which Berke Breathed put in Bloom County in the 80's. It's the idea that people are too sensitive to potential offenses.

Southwest is a loser here because of offensensitivity. Undoubtedly, someone told the steward they were unhappy.

What was Southwest to do? Not honor a customer's request? Or gamble, and hope that the damage from honoring that request could be contained?

Grace said...

I have mixed feelings about this situation. My first impression, before seeing the picture, was "kudos to Southwest for setting a standard and enforcing it." However, the question arises, "is there a posted dress code for passengers?" How can you enforce a standard if there isn't one to enforce? The flight attendant was in between a rock & a hard spot: either ignore the complaint of the offended passenger or offend the offending passenger.

I have to agree after viewing the picture that she wasn't dressed offensively. However, it is a bit disappointing to consider how our standards have evolved to the point where this is acceptable attire. There was a time when people would get dressed up (suit & tie, professional attire) to fly on an airplane. Now anything goes. This can probably be partially attributed to the fact that we have to practically get naked to make it through security!

Regardless, it's an issue of conflicting standards. If the airline wants to enforce a dress code, then they need to inform their passengers of what that code is. If you don't like the code, then don't fly with Southwest.

Gavin said...

Extra Credit - Dr. Tufte
This is a joke coming from an airline who promoted equally underdressed flight attendants in past marketing campaigns. I agree that "offensensitivity" is not a valid reason to kick someone off of a flight. Post a dress code and notify customers in advance of the consequences of violation. How can the consumer follow unwritten rules?

Trinity said...

Dr. Tufte said Southwest had to honor the customer's request. In this situation, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if the employee had ignored the request and said "I'm sorry but our guests are free to choose the their own clothes." It seems someone had to be offended in this situation and perhaps Southwest would have been better off letting the complainer be offended.

William said...

Dr. Tufte,
I think that you make a good point. Obviously what she was wearing was affecting someone else. I think that too many times we worry about one person being offended versus the many that have to look at them and be offended by what they are wearing. I think from a personal opinion that it was good that the attendant approached her. I think too many times people get away with their personal freedoms and don't realize all the people that they are affecting. On a business view though, I think that it is important to handle things correctly. With our current day and age it seems that this issue of women wearing provocative clothing is only going to get worse and companies must be aware of how to properly handle these situations. I think the flight attendant could have possibly handled it better then saying you have to get off the plane.

Reagan said...

Dr. Tufte asked what Southwest was to do? I think this question is easily answered by honoring a customers request. I do agree that people are too easily offended but responding to a customers request that is not over the top or too outrageous is generally a good thing to do. Southwest did not deny anyone their service, they just took a stand and had a reasonable request in an attempt to serve all their customers. This really seems like an attempt by someone to get publicity. I'm sure Southwest won the respect of the majority of their customers despite any publicity this has drawn. We also know that there are customers that are less than ideal because they take up more time and cost more money then they are worth.

TheFindlay said...

Dr. Tufte
I think they are a winner. Such actions make me want to fly with them because they behave in ways that support my family culture. Honoring the guest’s request was the right thing to do and I wish more companies would have the spine to follow suit. In a sinking world we need principled people and I applaud Southwest.

carter said...

Dr. Tufte said that Southwest was the loser. I disagree I believe that "any publicity is good publicity" as said by Kazakhstan's president.

Jacques said...

Dr. Tufte's explanation using offensensitivity is in the right place as far as I'm concerned and I would consider myself a "family-type". Do these people who alerted Southwest in the first place spend all their time policing the public on their definition of inappropriate attire? Southwest handled the situation incorrectly, whether "all publicity is good publicity" or not.

Dr. Tufte said...

Nothing new to add - I'm just glad I didn't have to make the decision on the fly.