Kyla Ebbert’s Airline Wardrobe Brouhaha, Vol. 6, Issue 30

Once again bad behavior on the airlines is in the news, but Etiquetteer never expected it to have to do with a passenger’s wardrobe. As is frequently the case, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

The story in brief: in response to a complaint, a Southwest Airlines customer service representative tried to pull 23-year-old student and Hooters waitress Kyla Ebbert from a flight because her outfit was too skimpy. Ms. Ebbert felt humiliated and her mother felt angry. Because they haven’t received an apology from the airline, they have taken their story to the TODAY show.

Etiquetteer will turn his attention to Ms. Ebbert’s ensemble in a moment, but first must express sympathy with "Keith," the airline employee who had to address Ms. Ebbert. Southwest told TODAY that "Southwest Airlines was responding to a concern about Ms. Ebbert’s revealing attire on the flight that day." Etiquetteer takes this to mean that some busybody passenger decided to make trouble. With the Climate of Terrorism that already surrounds air travel, is this really the best use of an airline’s time? Whoever that passenger is ought to be heartily ashamed.

The Southwest response to TODAY continued "When a concern is brought to our Employees' attention, we address that situation directly with the Customer(s) involved in a discreet and professional manner." With passengers packed so tightly into an airplane, where is the opportunity for discretion? Even asking a passenger to return to the jetway calls attention, thereby eliminating discretion. Long story short, "Keith" made the best of a terrible situation for him. Etiquetteer can only commend him and deplore the situation he was put into by whoever was complaining AND the airline.

Now (said Etiquetteer rubbing his hands with glee) we can address what Ms. Ebbert actually wore on the flight. Her white denim miniskirt, "wifebeater" tanktop, and what Etiquetteer would describe as a green "matador-style" sweater have already been seen on national television and the Internet. Unfortunately for her sense of entitlement and righteous indignation, TODAY had to blur out her crotch when she wore that outfit on the show and sat down. Let’s just say that weakened her argument that there was nothing wrong with her outfit! Etiquetteer is hardly going to suggest that women go around in burqas or Mother Hubbards, but if you can see all the way to Crawford’s Notch when you’re seated, you are not dressed like a lady. Perhaps it has something to do with working at Hooters? Etiquetteer will let you decide that one.

But the single most tasteless decision made in this whole sorry story was the decision Ms. Ebbert and her mother made to bring this story to the national news. Having bad taste and, unfortunately, getting called out for it is one thing. Splashing your humiliation (and your air-brushed panties) all over the media is the most embarrassing thing the Ebberts could have done, if only they had the sense to realize it. What was Mrs. Ebbert doing there in the first place? Her daughter is over 21; hasn’t she been raised to fight her own battles?

Lots of people on the Internet are calling Ms. Ebbert filthy names not worth repeating here. Etiquetteer will only say that she has been sadly misguided about what is Perfectly Proper for a lady to wear and not be thought a Lady of the Evening only. In the meantime, Etiquetteer can only repeat what he’s said before: "No one wants to see your underwear outside the bedroom . . . and maybe not even there."

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