An Unpleasant Surprise
In all her years of flying, she had never been treated this way before. She was just trying to get home to her kids when she was hit with the most unpleasant surprise of her life.
Denied her flight home by flight attendants, she was then removed from the plane. And all, supposedly, because of the way she decided to dress.
31-year-old Harriet Osborne had enjoyed a well-deserved vacation from bitterly-cold England with her friends to the South of Spain to get some sun, fresh air, and some much-needed rest and relaxation.
She was traveling home with gifts for family and friends and could not wait to see her children. But she could never have prepared for this.
Letting Down Her Hair
Harriet was enjoying her freedom and being in a new place far from home. She walked on the beautiful beaches, working on her tan in the Spanish sunshine. She finally felt like she was able to let her hair down a bit and take a break from motherhood and her busy job back home.
But she never expected her fun trip to end in tears.
Sun And Sea
Malaga in Southern Spain is situated in the Costa del Sol, or ‘coast of the sun.’ With the beaches teeming with British tourists, Harriet could see how the tropical paradise had earned its name.
New to the novelty of a perfect day and pristine beaches to explore, she and her friends were enjoying their holiday, but Harriet couldn’t help but feel like something was missing.
The Last Day
When the day arrived for her to go back home to Britain, she knew the vacation had run its course. She packed her bags and was looking forward to seeing her children. But there was still time for one last shopping spree.
She and her friends hailed a cab and headed to Av. de Andalucía to peruse the high-end fashion boutiques. Dazzled by the Spanish fashion and browsing happily, Harriet had no idea that this was the beginning of the worst day of her life.
The First Mistake
Stopping at El Corte Inglés, Harriet saw a cute top hanging in the window display. It was a black sheer blouse, but when Harriet saw the price tag her eyes widened in disbelief.
Disappointed, she turned on her heel to make a beeline for the exit when one of her girlfriends convinced her to try it on. This was her first mistake.
What’s The Harm?
Well… she was on holiday. What could be the harm in trying the blouse? Harriet scooped it up and walked to the changing room. The sight that greeted her in the mirror bowled her over. Admiring the perfect fit and her new tan, she knew she just had to have it and charged it to her credit card.
Little did she realize, it was this blouse that, for some, would push things way too far.
With bag in hand and trying not to think about how much her impulse buy had just cost her, Harriet and her friends stopped for one final lunch in Spain before it was time to part ways and go to the airport.
Before checking out, she did one last check around the hotel room and saw the designer-label bag staring accusingly at her from where she’d left it — on a chair in the corner. A wave of nausea and buyer’s remorse hit her. What had she been thinking?
Crossing That Line
Of course, Harriet had no idea that what she did next would result in her having one of the worst nights of her life. She had crossed an invisible line when she’d bought that cute top, and now she was going to pay the price.
The split-second decision she made next would mean that she wasn’t flying anywhere tonight. She just didn’t know it yet.
Her Body, Her Rules
Harriet was a feminist at heart — she firmly believed that a woman should be able to wear what she pleased. What she wore wasn’t an invitation for catcalls and unwanted attention.
Sure, she didn’t play with fire when she was out alone at a party or club. But the last place she had expected to feel unsafe was at the Malaga airport.
Well, she had bought it, and there was no time to return it now. Feeling spontaneous, she pulled the blouse from the bag and tried it on again. It did show off her new tan beautifully. And after all, she was on holiday.
She wouldn’t have to be self-conscious here – she was in a foreign country and she’d never have to see any of these people again. Or so she thought.
Ready To Board
Feeling confident with her top taped in all the right places, she was determined to make the best of her purchase. She arrived at the airport on time and placed her luggage on the conveyor belt.
She browsed the duty-free store and bought a few more gifts for her loved ones back home before she heard her flight being announced on the loudspeaker. But it what happened when she tried to board the plane was enough to make her totally lose it.
The Trouble Begins
When Harriet got to the airport lounge and saw the families waiting in line with their kids, she felt a stab of sadness. But at least she was on her way back – she’d see her children soon. The flight attendant checked her passport and waved her down the tunnel, wishing her a good flight.
But when she reached the airplane door, all hell broke loose.
An air hostess stood at the door, greeting the passengers with a warm smile as they stepped onto the plane. But when she saw Harriet, her face dropped.
Harriet was stunned. What had she done to offend the woman so badly? She was cleared to board this flight, but perhaps they had mistaken her for someone else? Shrugging her insecurities aside, she stepped forward but was stopped abruptly by the stewardess.
What Could Be Wrong?
The stewardess then moved to the other flight attendants and they began to speak in hushed tones. Harriet was confused – what was going on? Fear began to grow in her chest as another minute passed.
Then, the stewardess who had stopped her sauntered over and told her what the problem was. Harriet was incredulous. Was this some sort of joke?
“You’re not coming on my plane like that — you need to put a top on,” she spat. Then, she tried to cover Harriet up with her hands.
Harriet had known that the top she was wearing was a little revealing, but she’d taped it to ensure that she wasn’t showing too much skin. It couldn’t be that bad, could it?
The stewardess smugly told her that she’d received complaints from the other passengers that Harriet was dressed inappropriately. But Harriet hadn’t even boarded the plane yet!
Harriet, annoyed that this woman had the cheek to tell her what she could and couldn’t wear, began to argue with the stewardess in the walkway. But realizing that the woman wouldn’t budge, she complied with her request and pulled a sweater from her bag.
Harriet felt ashamed that the stewardess would single her out like that in front of so many people. She quietly made her way to her seat, but she could feel eyes burning into her back.
At least she was on the plane, she consoled herself. She’d be home soon, where she could put the whole experience behind her. But that wasn’t to be.
While Harriet was sitting there, she felt herself begin to seethe. She had flown so many times, but had never been treated this way before. Indignant, but willing herself to remain calm and keep quiet was proving to be too much.
When the stewardess passed her in the aisle, she could hold back no longer.
Voicing Her Anger
She began to raise her voice. She told the stewardess that she had been made to feel cheap in front of strangers and was mortified.
She had paid for her ticket just like everybody else, why had she been singled out for what she was wearing? And why had none of the airport staff said anything?
The airport staff began to huddle and whisper again and Harriet felt fear well up inside her once more. What could be the problem now? She had covered up like they had asked.
Then, the stewardess approached her and told her that she had to leave the airplane. Of course, Harriet was furious. She didn’t have a place to sleep that night, and she’d paid for her ticket.
After the conversation began to heat up, she was forcibly removed from the plane by security. She would have to spend the night at the airport and had lost her $200 ticket. “I just burst out crying,” she said in an interview later.
Then, she noticed a group of police officers approaching her. They told her that the cabin crew on the flight she had been booted from said that she had been disruptive. Could this day get any worse?
Luckily, the police saw Harriet’s side of the story. They agreed that they didn’t see why she had been thrown off the plane in the first place. But now, Harriet had to buy a new ticket. And even worse, the next flight out was only on the following day.
Short another $200 and with no money left for a hotel room, Harriet slept at the airport that night. The next day, she was sure to dress conservatively and finally boarded her flight. But she was still angry.
When Harriet arrived home, she was sure to tell everybody about her ordeal.
Soon, news stations picked up the story and were swarming her home for interviews. It wasn’t long before the story went viral on social media, causing quite a stir among women and men alike. Had Harriet gone too far?
One commenter wrote: “She can wear whatever she wants… she is getting on a plane with peoples screaming brats. The stewards are not the fashion police they are there to serve you.”
But others disagreed. Another Facebook user wrote: “Why would any sensible person get on a plane wearing something like that? I mean, personally I wouldn’t care she was nude! But she’s not wearing “flying” clothes!”
A Divisive Issue
Pictures of Harriet in her outfit have divided netizens, though. Most agree that what she was wearing was too revealing and that she should have covered up. Others disagree, saying that it is her choice what she wears, and that nobody had the right to shame her for it.
But what does the staff of EasyJet have to say?
A Simple Request?
‘We can confirm that a passenger traveling from Malaga to Stansted on 23 June was unable to travel due to behaving disruptively,’ a spokesperson for EasyJet told Fox News.
‘Following concerns about her clothing crew politely requested that the customer wear an additional top for the flight which the customer agreed to.’ So, why hadn’t Harriet been allowed on the flight if she had complied with their request?
‘However, she then proceeded to act disruptively towards a member of our crew,’ the spokesperson continued.
‘Our cabin and ground crew are trained to assess all situations and to act quickly and appropriately. We do not tolerate abusive or threatening behavior towards our staff.’