Air New Zealand apologises to female customer told to 'cover up' on flight

No other passengers were singled out despite some wearing only shorts and t-shirts.
No other passengers were singled out despite some wearing only shorts and t-shirts. Photo credit: Supplied / Getty Images

Air New Zealand has apologised to a woman who called the airline "sexist" after she was asked to cover up, with cabin crew deeming her inappropriately dressed for a flight.

Courtney Newbold was flying back to Auckland from the Cook Islands last week when a flight attendant told her she was showing "too much skin".

She was wearing two layered crop tops and high waisted leggings, and had initially believed she was being told to wear more clothes as the plane was cold.

But that wasn't the case and she had to borrow a spare jersey from a friend she was travelling with as all of her other clothing had been checked in.

After returning home Newbold posted a public complaint on Air NZ's Facebook page asking why her clothing was deemed inappropriate.

"Also wondering why no one mentioned this to me the whole two hours we waited for the plane, but rather right when I was boarding and could not procure clothing out of thin air?" she wrote.

"Very disappointed at being treated like this. It's 2021, why is an airline making sexist decisions about what I can wear, especially coming from a hot climate?"

Air NZ provides guidance to passengers on what to wear onboard, but specifically says "we're not too formal, so you're welcome to relax in stretch pants". Otherwise clothes just need to be "clean and tidy".

Newbold observed many male passengers on the flight wearing shorts and T-shirts, showing "the same amount of skin" as her, she told Stuff. No other passengers were singled out on the flight, she said.

"I don't think women's bodies should be policed like this," Newbold told the Herald. "I'd thought we were a bit more progressive in New Zealand."

Air NZ confirmed the incident to Newshub.

"It's always our intention to put customers first and ensure those who travel with us feel welcome and have a comfortable journey, and we apologise that this was not Courtney's experience this time around," the airline's general manager customer Leeanne Langridge said.

"In this instance, there has been a misunderstanding, but we will be taking this situation as a learning and will be reengaging with our customer-facing teams to ensure that this doesn't happen again."