Southwest Airlines loves free publicity, but not the kind it was getting after one of its flight attendants tussled with a young woman passenger whose outfit, the attendant said, was just too revealing and too short. The flyer, a waitress at the Hooters restaurant chain that’s known more for its scantily clad workers than its cuisine, said she was outraged when a flight attendant named ‘Wayne’ asked her to put on something else. When she said she didn’t have a change of clothes, the airline made her wear a blanket across her knees rather than become an attractive nuisance to the male passengers walking past her down the aisle or offend anyone else on board the flight from San Diego, California, to Tucson, out in the sultry Arizona desert.
This passenger, 23-year-old Kyla Ebbert, knew how get the most mileage out her short-skirt situation; within days, she was making the rounds of the morning chat shows and public opinion certainly seamed to be headed her way. Some wags pointed out that Southwest was the airline that trademarked a hot-pants uniform that it required for stewardesses back in the go-go 1970s and others wondered if Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly, noted for his outrageous Halloween costumes (right, as a cowboy gunslinger), would dress up in a miniskirt this year. After a week of hemming, hawing and skirting the issue, Southwest decided it had given her short shrift and that it should wrap up the mini-matter. Coming clean, Kelly issued a public apology to Ebbert, saying, with tongue firmly in cheek, “as we both know, this story has great legs, but the true issue here is that you are valued customer and you did not get an adequate apology.” He also said the airline was lowering fares “to a mini-skirt level”.