Physician Considering Lawsuit After American Airlines Flight Attendants Made Her Cover Up Her Romper
"It felt like this walk of shame," she said.
American Airlines is left apologizing again after a Black woman claims she was profiled because of her curvy body.
Dr. Tisha Rowe was on her way to Miami from Kingston, Jamaica on June 30 when a flight attendant called her to the front of the plane. The family physician was asked to deplane and given a lecture about her attire. She was wearing a strapless romper with biker-style shorts.
Here is what i was wearing when @AmericanAir asked me to deplane for a talk. At which point I was asked to “cover up”. When defending my outfit I was threatened with not getting back on the flight unless I walked down the aisle wrapped in a blanket. #notsofriendlyskies pic.twitter.com/AYQNNriLcq— Tisha Rowe MD, MBA (@tisharowemd) July 1, 2019
“She poses the question to me, ‘Do you have a jacket?’” Rowe recounted to The New York Times. “I said, ‘No, I do not.’ I’ve been given no explanation as to why I was taken off the plane. So finally she says, ‘You’re not boarding the plane dressed like that.’ Then they started to give me a lecture about how when I got on the plane, I better not make a scene or be loud.”
When she returned to the aircraft, Rowe was covered with a blanket. Her son was traumatized by the ordeal.
You are my sunshine... pic.twitter.com/0r1B4CCIgz— Tisha Rowe MD, MBA (@tisharowemd) July 9, 2019
"My son sat there just almost, I won't say paralyzed, but I don't think I've seen my son remain so still, so frozen, and I could see on his face that he was upset," Rowe told ABC News. "By the time we made it to our seats, he was in tears."
Rowe was also left humiliated.
"Everyone saw me leave and then I walked back in a blanket. So it felt like this walk of shame," she said. "I remember sitting in my seat and not even wanting to look at the passenger next to me. I just turned my body so that I wouldn't have to make eye contact."
Rowe noticed other passengers "wearing tropical attire and short shorts" and they were left alone. During a talk with another traveler, the other woman compared the length of her shorts to Rowe’s romper.
"I reached out to her just in my distress because I just needed to talk to someone," Rowe said. "She was also a mother, also traveling with a child and she said 'no way!' She looked at my shorts and she looked at her shorts and she said 'well, your shorts are longer than mine and no one said anything to me.' She was a beautiful woman but straight up and down, you know, very thin ... her shorts were teeny tiny."
Rowe believes the staff, who were also Black, targeted her because of her curves and skin color.
“Had they seen that same issue in a woman who was not a woman of color, they would not have felt empowered to take me off the plane,” she said. “In pop culture, especially Black women with a body like mine, they’re often portrayed as video vixens. So I’ve had to deal with those stereotypes my whole life.”
American Airlines issued an apology and promised it was investigating the incident.
“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.”
Geoffrey Berg, Rowe’s attorney isn’t satisfied and said his client is considering a lawsuit.
“They wanted credit for the apology and said, ‘This is not how we want our airline portrayed,’ which tells me they are prioritizing their image above their actions,” he said.