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Sat, Oct 06, 2007

Once Again, Southwest Sings A Familiar Refrain...

'Change Your Outfit Or Get Off The Plane!'

Not this again. Yet another Southwest Airlines passenger is not a happy customer, after being asked to change their outfit, or get off the plane. The incident is the second time in recent months the airline has been in the news for an employee enforcing a dress code... which airline officials maintain it does not have.

As ANN reported, the airline apologized this summer to 23-year old Hooters waitress Kayla Ebbert, after she was booted from her flight from San Diego for wearing a denim miniskirt and a sweater over a low-cut tank top. Another young woman -- Setara Qassim -- came forward shortly after Ebbert took her story public, saying she was also approached by an employee as she was flying to Burbank last June.

Ebbert told her story on national television on the "Dr. Phil" show. Southwest Chief Executive Gary Kelly read her a written apology on the show... and later attempted to make light of the situation, with a "Mini Fares Sale."

This time around, the alleged victim was a man. The Associated Press reports Joe Winiecki, of Largo, FL boarded a flight in Columbus, OH, headed for home wearing an ostensibly fishing-themed t-shirt... emblazoned with the words "Master Baiter."

That's when things turned sour for the Florida resident. Winiecki says he was already in his seat when an airline employee told him he had to change his T-shirt, turn it inside out, or get off the plane.

Winiecki protested and told the employee it was an infringement on his right to free speech... but changed his shirt anyway fearing he would miss his flight and a day's work.

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz says the employee made a mistake because the airline does not have a dress code and the airline will apologize to Winiecki.

After the Ebbert incident, Southwest President Colleen Barrett sent employees a generally worded e-mail reminding them that the airline has no dress code. However, Southwest, like other airlines, does have language in its contract of carriage that states it reserves the right to deny service to customers whose clothing is "lewd, obscene or patently offensive."

Mainz says the airline has discussed giving employees more specific examples of what is considered lewd or offensive.

FMI: www.southwest.com

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