You may have seen in the news during the past few days a story about two US Airways first class passengers who were told to change clothes before being allowed to board. They were traveling from Denver to Los Angeles via Phoenix and were allegedly wearing jeans, hoodies and baseball caps. A “no go” according to US Airways.
The African-American siblings (brothers) complied by changing clothes, but were shocked to discover two other first class passengers (one Caucasian, one Filipino) boarded and took their seats wearing attire similar to what the two brothers were forced to change out of – jeans and the like.
Sounds crazy, right? They thought so and have now sued (PDF) US Airways for racial discrimination and emotional distress.
Not so fast.
While the court complaint linked above says the brothers had the same first class tickets as the other pair, US Airways confirmed with both NBC News and USA Today that the brothers were traveling as non-revs on buddy passes. As such, a dress code applies.
While the brothers admitted to traveling on buddy passes, they claim that they didn’t know the dress code policy. And whose fault is that? The employee’s whose pass they’re traveling on. And I can only hope that employee is no longer working at US Airways, because if they are, they probably won’t be much longer.
Pass travel of any kind is an absolute privilege and carries responsibilities. When I worked for United, those responsibilities were very clearly explained to me, including the fact that I could be held responsible for the behavior of anyone traveling on my passes – up to and including termination.
As such, I only ever gave them to people I truly trusted, clearly explaining the rules. I never let a “friend of a friend” use them who I didn’t know for the very reason my job could be in jeopardy. And quite a few of my colleagues at the time had a similar personal policy, which I’m sure many airline employees today hold.
I’m sure the lawsuit will be shut down rather quickly, as it’s ridiculous. But what shocks me most about it is the fact that there were actually two first class seats open for buddy pass fliers. When does that happen domestically nowadays?! 😉