New Zealand woman allegedly removed from Delta Airlines flight for not wearing bra

Delta Airlines planes with inset image of Lisa Archbold
Photo credit: Getty Images, @djette_kiwi / Instagram

A Kiwi expat has claimed she was removed from a Delta Airlines flight in the US after being told that not wearing a bra violated the carrier's dress code.

Lisa Archbold, a New Zealand-raised DJ and publicist who currently lives in New York, had been travelling from Salt Lake City in Utah to California's San Francisco on January 22 after attending Sundance Film Festival.

Archbold told the New Zealand Herald she was initially taken aback by a frosty encounter with the gate agent but as she was allowed to board the plane, didn't think too much of it.

Moments after finding her seat, however, Archbold said an airline staffer came to her row and loudly announced that she needed to speak to her in private.

"I'm thinking, someone has died, or they found something weird in my bag," she told the Herald.  

Initially, Archbold assumed she was in trouble for carrying a large quantity of vodka in her checked luggage, the result of advertising for Woody Harrelson's liquor brand, Origen & Harmony Holistic Spirits, at the film festival.

But the performer was shocked when the staffer said it was her "revealing clothes" that were the issue.  

Delta planes on the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023.
Delta planes on the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023. Photo credit: Elijah Nouvelage / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Archbold recalled the staffer said it was the airline's policy to "remove anyone in revealing clothes from the aircraft", but told her she could remain on the flight if she put on a jacket to hide that she wasn't wearing a bra.

Archbold - who identifies as queer - said that to the contrary, she was dressed like a "little boy" in men's baggy pants and a T-shirt, which she now believes may have contributed to her being unfairly targeted.

She noted that none of the men on the flight were wearing bras, despite some having "bigger breasts" than her.

"[The staff member] essentially weaponised Delta's policy to humiliate and abuse a woman [who] she didn't think was being a woman in the right way," Archbold said.

The expat, who goes by the stage name DJette Kiwi, added she had never experienced this issue before in the four years she has lived in the US.

At the time of writing, Archbold said she has yet to hear back from Delta Airlines after filing an official complaint.

It's not the first time passengers on US airlines have claimed they were either deplaned or humiliated due to their attire. In 2022, former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo made headlines when she was asked to cover up before boarding an American Airlines flight to Cabo, while several content creators have alleged they were removed from flights for supposedly wearing "inappropriate" outfits.

According to Delta Airlines' domestic Contract of Carriage, the carrier may refuse to transport or may remove passengers from its aircraft when the passenger's "conduct, attire, hygiene or odour creates an unreasonable risk of offense or annoyance to other passengers".

Delta has previously confirmed it doesn't have "an item-specific clothing policy", but encourages "no swimwear, sleepwear or underwear as your outerwear".     

Newshub has contacted Delta Airlines for comment.