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Wrapping Up the Skirt Issue

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 Rumor has it that this blog has been kind of busy with comments lately.  Seriously, I know that many of you have posted some pretty passionate comments on the subject of Kyla Ebberts and "traveling attire" in general, and we have been listening.  I thank each of you for sharing your thoughts, and I want you to know that we haven't been skirting the issue. This situation involved a judgment call for sure.  These situations are subjective, and not everyone holds the same opinions.  We serve more than 96 million Customers a year; and every now and then, we'll have a situation that takes on a life of its own.  This was the case here. We always want to apologize if we offend any of our Customers, and we also support our Employees abilities to make decisions.  We are apologizing to Kyla, in typical Southwest style, and I hope you will click here to read about it. Many, many of you on both sides of this issue have asked about a dress code.  We do have a dress code for our Employees who use their travel benefits, but we do not have a dress code for our paying Customers.  Our job is not to be the fashion police; our job is to take care of our Customers and ensure they have a safe flight.  We are proud of our past that included hot pants and we are proud of our future, and I want all of you to be part of that future.
258 Comments
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As a SWA family member and frequent flyer at swa, good for you flight crew. I am personally tired of having to turn the other way because I accidentally looked over and saw the woman with the ( new meaning ) cut off shorts and saw her buisness without undies. Or the woman who is on a full family flight out of Orlando to Providence in a tube top, that's right a tube top I could see the lower half of her bare breast maybe even a little ^%^ple, yikes. Or the time I saw a girl wearing a bikini top. Please put a stop to the almost nude maddness. We should ask ourselves is this offensive to my mom? just like we ask ourselves would we want our mom on that flight? NO.
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Colleen, Thank you for acknowledging the situation. I hope for all concerned that your message involving no dress code filters down to your employees. I also am hoping that your employees will remember this issue and unless there is a safety issue, treat their customers customers with the respect and dignity they would like to be treated if they were on the receiving end. I do believe that SWA will be encountering some more questions about employee training and the actions taken against the offending employee. Thank you again for listening and finally addressing the issue.
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Part two More from the Mini Skirt Fare Announcement: "Southwest Airlines today faces the bare facts and reveals the naked truth." "Some have said we've gone from loving hot pants to having hot flashes but nothing could be farther from the truth, "said Southwest's CEO Gary Kelly. "The publicity caught us with our pants down, quite frankly. The story has such great legs Makes Kelly sound like a dope.
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While I think this apology should have come much earlier than it did, I'm glad to see that SWA has apologized for it's error, and publicly admitted to the mistake. Good job!
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Sorry Hun, Too little, too late. And to top it off, now you're trying to gain commercially from an appalling, disgusting and discriminatory action by your employee and your airline in general. I have lost all my respect for Southwest and the corporate culture that permitted and then ignored this reprehensible action. A company that treats a paying customer the way you did deserves to have its corporate pants sued off of it. And then Kyla can complain about how YOU are dressed. Say goodbye to my business on Bradley-Midway. Sean from Connecticut
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Debra, Am I to interpret "SWA family member" as that you are an employee of SWA? If not, the following does not apply to you and I apologize. If so, did you read the statement by your president about NO DRESS CODE and the customer? If yes, your attitude that you are "tired" of your customers looking the way they do, just shows that you have anti-customer sentiment and are willing to degrade customers just on their looks. I am not trying to "scold" anyone here but I would suggest that you restrict your anti-customer opinions to the break room or the "water cooler" where your fellow employees can share your opinions. "Anti-customer sentiment" or degrading comments about customers on this public blog, is just going to keep this topic alive and SWA will have to field more criticism by the travelling public as to why their employees just don't get it.
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Thank you for finally addressing this matter publicly, humorously and appropriately. While I certainly agree with some of the above comments on appropriateness of clothing for flying, I do not believe the clothes in this particular instance warranted the treatment Ms. Ebberts received. The was no indication that pulling a Britney Spears, so I guess you can chalk it up to experience and hope that all involved learned a lesson. By the way, the "story has great legs" comment was priceless!
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I just want to say way to go!! I am really tired of women dressing like harlots. If that lady wanted to dress that way she should not have been apologized to. She knew exactly how she was dressing when she put her clothes on that morning. There were probably children on that flight who did not need to see all that mess. What kind of message are these women trying to send anyway?!!
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As clever as it is, this apology is ambiguous and insulting to your front-line employees. If you mean to say that the front line employee erred, come out and say it. If you're saying that your damage control effort failed, that much is obvious to everyone. If you mean to point out that Kyla's story is PR-motivated and incorrect, step forward with the facts that only Southwest has. If you want to avoid taking any position at all, congratulations! "These situations are subjective, and not everyone holds the same opinions." OK, so how about telling us the facts so we can have informed opinions rather than uninformed and prejudiced guesses? For example: Did another passenger complain? If so, exactly what was that complaint, word for word? Do your employees contend that he clothing was configured differently than the way she appeared in interviews? If so, what were the differences? Is there any substance at all to the rumors of missing or thong underwear? If not, would you please quash them immediately? If a customer is falsely maligning you in the media, you can afford to make an exception to normal policy about making the customer look bad . This passenger has presented her story in the media, and most people will assume that story is correct and complete unless and until Southwest tells its side. You owe your front line employees that much. I've said it before, but if Kyla appeared on the aircraft EXACTLY as she appeared in the interviews, I doubt anyone would have asked her to change, and any such request would have been an error, in my opinion. If her appearance was different on the flight, the public needs to hear the specifics so that they can feel confident in the judgment of Southwest's front line employees. In summary: Depending on the facts, your backhanded apology is either too much or too little. I tend to believe that Southwest employees acted reasonably because in my 700 or more flights as a customer I have never seen anything else. But if you won't step forward with the facts to defend your company or your employees, why should anyone else defend you? I know Herb is a lawyer, but this evasiveness is ridiculous. Defend your company properly and then have Herb challenge Kyla to a Hula contest for $5000. That's a win-win.
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I learned of this "news" breaking story via Fox News. I was astonished that this issue was considered newsworthy, and ignorantly brushed off the issue, simply because women now-a-days typically dress like "halloween" for lack of a better word; I think that I have been desensitized to this type of dress attire. However, I found myself in the pool of society wherein, we just "accept" certain things about our society because of its commonality, and when I found myself pondering about thsi type of "acceptance" I recoiled at my cowardice to stand up for the basic minimal standards of society, and what this society was once, dignified by. Moreover, I became drawn to this issue and anticipated Southwest's response to all of its critics. While Southwest did excellent media and marketing damage control to diffuse this issue, I believe that Southwest did more to encourage society's acceptance of things without considering, if any, the positive, hard-nosed incentives against the acceptance of women dressing like halloween. My fiancee and I travel frequently, and quite frankly, I am disgusted to see women, from teenage girls to women--old enough to be my mother--dressing like halloween--what has our society come to, where we allow our women and encourage our women to dress so whorishly, like halloween? In short, these women leave nothing to the imagination, and they also, don't promote a positive-standard of dignity and respect for the younger women to follow as an example. What's more is that, these type of women with simple minded attitudes that "No one tells me what do, and I will do what I want to do," are same women who complain when a man calls them a whore or hoe or bitch, or cries when men treat them as second class and are used only, for one-night stands. To paraphrase Dave Chappell, "If a women is dressed inappropriately and you are really not that way, don't get mad at [us men] because you are certainly dressed in a hoe's uniform." Southwest congrats on taking some kind of stand against what is typically acceptable, I just hope for the sake of your kids, my kids and others that this company will stand behind its employees and implement and maintain, any and all, consequences to prevent (instead of rewarding the halloween dressers) passengers (customers) who think they have a right to reveal all of their assets--which they have the right to--to discourage dressing like halloween in certain public areas; it is a matter of public policy and decency, have some decency and cover up, go home or to the club and "sport" your hoe's uniform at the proper venus.
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Ms. Barrett, Wow! Talk about making a 180-degree course correction! Did CEO Kelly give you a good "talking to" after the comments you made just yesterday*? Well, for me, Southwest's action is too little, too late. I have already directed my company's travel department to remove your airline from our preferred list of carriers. I hope other companies out there also take similar steps to show you how serious this misstep was. *see the following news link: http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2007/09/10/daily50.html
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I do believe the evil greed has hit again. Shame on SWA for backing down! It all boils down to the fear of loosing profits. Our society is truly in moral decay!
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Has either Colleen (Barrett) or Gary (Kelly) been in contact with Martin Reed (Kyla's lawyer) regarding your apology? Do they feel that the issue is closed yet?
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Suggestion: Please address these issues while are lined up in our ABC and prior to the beginning of the boarding process in the future. In my opinion, that's when you are the most professional and can be the most discreet as possible.
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After her My Space website was posted on one of the comments, I do not feel she is even entitled to one apology. I was appalled at her web site...pretty trashy and not sure that even her mother would "approve" of her site. She is definately not the all american lady and certainly does not deserve an apology. I am flying Southwest the end of this month and am looking forward to flying with a professional group of people. Just hope that I dont have to sit next to another Kyla lookalike!
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Thank you, Colleen! It is indeed relieving to know that cooler, rational heads prevail in the executive suite.
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Mr Kelly's comments come off sounding rather sexist. Why is so hard just to say "Sorry" without all the other junk. In response to the other comments posted, I must miss these flights with the half dressed or undressed passengers, or else I MIND MY OWN BUSINESS!
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Going Like Sixty seems to think Gary Kelly "sounds like a dope". I think he sounds like a genius, making lemonade out of lemons and creating a press release that makes fun of itself in short order. Like Colleen says, the announcement was made in typical Southwest style - with flair! WTBB
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What you should be apologizing for, Ms. Barrett, is Brian Lusk puffing up his chest in sanctimonious fashion about the Dan Fleschner article on MSNBC All Day site. Whatever the issue about the skirt being too short, for Lusk to be so bold as to imply "We were right. Even Dan Fleschner agrees", is inexcusable. Let me ask you a question, Ms. Barrett. What would Herb say?
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1. The tenor of the Southwest "apology" is nothing short of ridiculous. It will be seen as sexist, and frankly stupid, by many; that being so, why would SWA shoot themselves in the corporate foot a second time?. Surely any business image consultant (the profession that exploded after the Tylenol episode of many years ago) could have told the brainless CEO of SWA and other executives that a simple, straightforward acknowledgment of regret would have been far preferable. The fact of an apology would satifsy some and disappoint others, but the style of an apology should not, itself, create even more PR issues. How stupid. 2. Without a written dress code for passengers an issue like this was bound to arise. And doubtless there is no such dress code because it would be impossible to craft and also to enforce. In the absence of such a code, then, evaluation of passenger attire is left to the discretion, indeed, the caprice, of any individual SWA employee. It is patently inevitable that such a "policy" would lead to conflict and, ultimately, bad public relations. 3. The previous point is underscored by the fact that on her return flight to San Diego a SWA flight attendant complimented her on her attire, the very same attire that cause SWA flight attendant "Keith" so much heartburn earlier in the day. 4. Bottom line to those at SWA: Grow up. You are in the public transport business. Sitting for hours in a cramped metal tube at high altitude with many strangers makes for an interesting dynamic in any circumstance. Fostering employee independence is fine, but you fail your employees and the traveling public by essentially trying to have it both ways. Prompt and sincere acknowledgment of any mistake ought to be THE highest corporate priority. Someone at SWA (or many someones) has clearly been breathing thin for too long.
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Give me a break. All this over some skin. Next thing you know, we'll be back to banning nursing mothers. Aren't there more important things in the world to get upset about, i.e. hunger, war, religious freedom, health issues, etc. We Americans put far too much emphasis on skin and it will keep tainting our children until we get smart. Hats off to SW for making a good thing out of a mistake.
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What a joke, you're poor attempt with the 'mini-skirt' fares is plain stupid, a juvenile attempt to cover up the fact that you 'stepped in it'. Not surprised by some of the comments about how poorly or scantily she was dressed. I'll bet they spent a long time looking at her, long and hard before they got caught looking. Any 'decent' person who is offended by something would turn their head and move on. I'd ask my wife and daughters to fly wearing micro minis just to test. But I'd rather not waste my money on Southworst. There are other abeit more expensive airlines who do not issue dressing lessons or burkas to their female passengers.
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I wish SWA was just as attentive to the matter of oversized people boarding the plane. They should ask them to leave unless they pay for two seats.
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Kelly sounds like a dope. He is trying to capitalize on a MISTAKE made by WN employee. If a pilot lands at a wrong airport, will he offer a special Corrigan's Folly fare? Flair? Stupid marketing. PS: apparently Part One of my post didn't make it for some reason (no conspiracy.) Barrett apologized only after making some flippant and tasteless remarks. It came of as insincere. A CEO should not make jokes when apologizing. Say your sorry, why you are sorry, and what you will do do make it right. She did that but only after making fun of the original error.
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Colleen pulls a 180, typical chick. Now where are all the southworst supporters ripping on Kyla? Haha!
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I assumed you would wind up naming an airplane after Kyla, but maybe Hooter's Airline has the trademark on that........
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Thanks for apologizing. It shouldn't have taken as long as it did, but at least you realized you screwed up. I'm flying in to Vegas on Southwest next Friday. Someone who's dressed like Kyla's welcome to sit next to me.
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Very true, some women dress inappropriately. Does that mean that grocery stores, movie theaters, malls and such have a right to deny access to customers whose outfits are subjectively considered risquÃ
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I gotta side with those who are criticizing Colleen for backing down; it now seems that Southwest is violating its policy of Employees coming first, Customers second. If I were "Keith," I'd be updating my resume. Shame on Colleen and everyone on down for letting this man hang out to dry. There was nothing -- NOTHING -- for SWA to apologize to this skank for. Leah, be ye forewarned. This may happen to you.
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I completely stand behind the SWA employees who asked that woman to cover up! As a frequent flyer and a mother of a frequent "UM", I know from experience that there are more conservatively covered passengers out of that "96 million" and I am disappointed that more of those passengers did not speak up in defense of SWA. There is a time and a place for such attire and on an airplane is not one of them. Thank you SWA for NOT having assigned seating, because if my UM was stuck sitting next to something like that woman, I would drive directly to the corporate office and pitch a HUGE fit! Flying on SWA is a choice. Just as SWA can charge an obese person for covering too much, I hope SWA does put a dress code in effect for those that cover too little. The Dallas based crew that regularly helped my little UM to Kansas City...you are greatly missed.
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Last i checked this was America right? People can wear what they want. i am just gonna guess here but I would say that the people that are complaining are the 72% overweight americans. This girl should get free flight for life.
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Through it all-Thanks. Please back your employees and support them when necessary. They seem to put out your Company culture easily. We try not to sit next to someone dressed as the picture shows, because we are in such close quarters, it is impossible to keep from rubbing up against each other. I don't want to be saying excuse my all the time and trying to keep my eyes averted. I imagine it is quite an eyeful when she bends to get her stuff or stands up and stretches to retrieve her gear or all the body crush when waiting in the aisle to deplane. Wow.
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What is the company policy on breast feeding on a flight? Seems like that can expose as much or more in some cases.
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To Southwest Airlines: Kindly stick to flying airplanes safely and efficiently. You are not the morality police. If you are sued over this mess, you brought it on yourselves. To the ignorant Prudes who are offended by the human body, including their own: If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Keep your morals and your long, busybody noses to yourselves --or-- take the bus, drive, or hitchhike. I have spent a lot of money flying Southwest over the years. I'm starting to think something is wrong with you guys.
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I think Southwest has forgot that the coustomer is always right, to embaress a large man by making him buy a second ticket is a shame. He should sue, I am a large man and I have flown your airline and I will never fly your airline again. And you Ain`t the fashion police. Work on getting your flights on time and not loseing luggage.
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Paul, what do you mean? Do you mean there may be a time I face a similar encounter with a customer like Kyla whenever I go to work for SWA?
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Listen to all the prudes come out of the woodwork. Children do not become damaged from seeing a woman's thighs or even nudity for that matter. Half of the people that make some of these comments would love to see us dressed in ankle length wool swimsuits to the beach. Prudishness is the disgusting attitude, not showing a little skin. Why? because its deny's the basic worth of the individual no matter if they are young and beautiful or old and wrinkly. Clothes do not make the man or woman, the man or woman does by their actions and values. I do applaud SWA for making the appologies and particularily from the head of their business, but i am less than impressed with their effort to capitalize fron their mistake. That is a little in bad taste. I doubt I will fly with you anytime soon, but at least you made the effort.
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wow! It took two talk shows and a million blogs to do the right thing. Then, you offer her 1 round free trip. Not to mention the other woman that had the same issue. Oh well, she didn't file a complaint, so who cares right! SWA started their blog trying to demean the girl.Explaining to their readers that the skirt was so low she had issues on the Today Show. Hippocrates! Now, a 360 turn. If your lucky get in on the promotion for ten days for wearing short skirts. Maybe the women that wear to much clothing will be bumped off or asked to shorten their bust line. SWA should give Kelly a job!
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By the way, this incident is not, & I repeat not, stopping me from wanting to work for SWA! When I will get on, I don't know-but I will. 🙂
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SW had every right to prevent Kyla Ebbert from flying as dressed. Any fashion criticism aside, I do not want someone wearing a too short skirt with no panties to be walking past me at eye level or squeezing past me to get to the window seat any more than I want some mother changing her babies diaper on the tray table next to mine. It just isn't hygenic-especially in the confined space of an airplane. If SW is planning to allow such behavior, then every row should be stocked with Lysol and alcohol wipes.
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I am glad Southwest addressed this issue apologizing to the affected passenger. To tell you the truth, I was disappointed the fashion/conservative police invaded southwest, my favorite airline for many years. Now I know it was a questionable judgment by one of your employees which was quickly corrected and not a company wide policy. Congratulations, A. Molina
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Whatever happened to "we reserve the right to refuse service..." Yeah, like Dave Chappelle said, "if you don't want to be mistaken for a cop, then don't dress like one..." Would she have been offended if someone offered her fifty bucks for her services? Gone on TV to defend herself then? I doubt it! SWA does things differently and those who don't like it have other choices, SWAs biggest fans over the years have got to be their stockholders. Has anyone noticed that they are the only profitable airline? Obviously poor miss Kyla was SO embarassed that she felt the need to make a huge issue out of it....cha CHING! Could you see the dollar signs in her eyes as she spoke??? You bet if I still looked like that I would wear the same outfit...TO THE CLUB! I like to hide behind the whole freedom of speech and this is America thing too...I can say or do (or wear) anything I want but how dare you say anything to me! All rights belong to me, not you!
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For once I thought a company would take a stand for moral decency and do the right thing. I found myself becoming a huge fan of Southwest airlines because it seemed you would not back down from the stand you were taking on modesty. I guess we will just continue to see a decline in the morality of our culture and continue to wonder why all the horrible acts of our society take place. "Wake up America", each day is growing worse and worse!
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Way to go Southwest! Some people these days have no class! I can put up with the pajamas and slippers that people wear on the planes,..... but I don't like it. I can NOT put up with slutty girls that think not wearing underwear on a public plane is sexy. Southwest is getting alot of flack because they are the Luv Airline and the Flight Attendants used to wear hotpants...go back and look at those outfits. Those are way more conservative that half the teenage girls that got on my flight tonight. Put it away girls!... And boys, I don't want to see swear words on the t-shirt you got in Mexico..or the cartoon characers having sex in 30 different positions on your t-shirt! Please! Get some class! Do any of you people have children?
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I understand that it is Southwest's nature to apologize and move on, but I have to say I am a little disappointed since there was really nothing to apologize for. A young, immature woman made a silly decision, encouraged by a lawyer, I am sure. It appears from what I have seen, this is not the only bad decision she has made. It also appears she will make lots of money getting paid to expose herself. America ... you gotta love it. Anyway, what your employees did was reasonable and, from all informed accounts, was done is a discrete manner. At worst, it certainly was not as rude and vile as many of the comments you have received on this blog and others in recent days. Oh well, I am tired of hearing about this. I hope everyone else is.
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I am upset that Southwest caved in for Kyla Ebbert. While the outcome will be a mini skit sale I think Kayla and others could dress more appropriate even in hot weather as she claimed on the news. I have noting against a good looking woman dress a certain way but in certain situations that should not be the case as I will point out below. Everywhere today you see women dressing skimpy even in places of worship where is the respect for oneÃ
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I believed the majority of people wanted SWA to recognize their shortcoming and do what was right, apologize and state their view. As for those who disagree with SWA's "now" position, I think you need to realize you don't always get what you want. Air travel is not a very structured or orderly mode of transportation when it comes to people and if you cannot accept that people have a right to travel in whatever clothing they feel, as long as it does not violate law or create a safety issue, then I am sorry to say that you should not be traveling by air. This is always going to be unless the Government decides otherwise. If that happens then I will be addressing my fellow passengers as Comrade.
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I wouldnt ride your airline if it waw a free flight. I'd hate to be asked to cover my ankle because my sock wasn't high enough to cover my ankle. What a bunch of bulls$#t. Most of my friends who USED your airline have already switched to american, so, be as prudish as you want, its your airline. But don't whine if you don't get new flyers.
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Shame on you. You caved, or was it just a well planned marketing strategy? You are purveryors of service. It is your responsibility to set the standards by which you serve or refuse service to the public. Your apology and subsequent "skimpy" fares scheme contribute to the continuing freefall of incivility. You have lost this customer (I thought I was entitled to fly unmolested....inappropriate attire in a public venue is an assault on my sensibilities.) You have lost the patronage of my friends. We will not soon forget that you chose attention grabbing headlines over good taste.
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I have to roll my eyes in disgust with people like Kayla Ebberts. She only wanted Attention and she knows it. Why else do people like her dress like she did the day she flew. I attract attention by dressing classy and stylish...not trashy and cheap! A person of her intelligence does not deserve any apology - just a lesson in how to be a classy lady! Sorry that Southwest had to go through all of this. I hate to say but the customer is not always right. Thank you Southwest for running a great airline. You are my airline of choice when booking all my future travel.