American Airlines Apologizes for Forcing Black Female Passenger to Cover Up ‘Inappropriate’ Romper

A Texas family physician is outraged after she claims an American Airlines flight attendant ordered her to cover her outfit with a blanket — or be put off the plane.

Now, the air line has issued an apology amid cries of discrimination and “misogynoir.”

Dr. Tisha Rowe, who practices medicine in Houston, had just boarded her flight from Kingston, Jamaica to Miami with her 8-year-old son. But before the flight was set to take off, Rowe said a crew member pulled her aside for a quick chat off the plane.

The family doctor was shocked by what happened next, and took to Twitter to share the “humiliating” incident.

In a tweet, Rowe wrote that the flight attendant asked if she had a sweater or jacket to cover the strapless romper she was wearing, as her outfit was deemed “inappropriate” for her flight back the states. When Rowe said she didn’t, the flight attendant told her she would not be allowed back on the plane unless she agreed to cover up with a blanket.

Dr. Tisha Rowe

Dr. Tisha Rowe said she felt “humiliated” and “powerless” threatened to bar her from getting back on the plane if she refused to cover her outfit with a blanket. (Image courtesy of Twitter / @tisharowemd)

“When defending my outfit I was threatened with not getting back on the flight unless I walked down the aisle wrapped in a blanket,” she tweeted, recounting the June 30 incident.

Rowe, 37, complied, though she said the incident left her feeling “powerless.”

“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,” she told Buzzfeed News in an interview, adding that “there was never an ounce of empathy, an ounce of apology, [or] any attempt to maintain my dignity throughout the situation.”

Rowe posted about the incident once she was back home and shared photos of the outfit she was wearing at the time. Her post sparked a flood of angry reactions from critics who accused the attendant of policing the doctor’s “curvy” frame.

“I have seen women wear less. This is BS,” one Twitter user wrote. “Maybe a flat bottom flight attendant got jealous? Just saying…..”

“Discrimination,” another chimed in. “If you didn’t have any curves and the same outfit hung loosely, nobody would have said anything. Get a lawyer.”

One user argued “I bet if it were a skinny white girl in a miniskirt it would have been fine.”

Rowe too believed race played a factor in the attendant’s decision to call her out over her outfit. In a Facebook post, she wrote, “We are policed for being black. Our bodies are over sexualized as women and we must adjust to make everyone around us comfortable.”

“I’ve seen white women with much shorter shorts board a plane without a blink of an eye,” she added, noting that the incident left her son in tears.

In a statement obtained by Atlanta Black Star, American Airlines said it has apologized to Rowe for the incident and refunded the cost of her trip.

“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,” said spokeswoman Shannon Gilson. “We 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.”

It’s unclear what disciplinary action, if any, the airline will take against the attendant in question.

In a heartfelt Instagram post, Rowe thanked everyone for their outpouring of love and support.

“Chase is too young to appreciate what is happening but on behalf of our tiny family, the outpouring of love, the support, the demand for ACCOUNTABILITY is greatly appreciated. Thank You. #freedomtofly,” she wrote. 

Back to top