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Airline sued for asking men to change clothes before boarding

Passengers charge U.S. Airways with discrimination.

By Rich_Maloof Apr 17, 2013 4:56PM

Two young African American men boarding a U.S. Airways flight were allegedly denied access to their seats until they changed out of casual attire. An airline employee at the gate told the two men they couldn’t sit in first class wearing hoodies and jeans, New York Daily News reports, and were instructed to remove their baseball caps, put on button-up shirts and nicer shoes and change from jeans into slacks.

Photo: Passengers asked to change clothes for first class on U.S. Airlines / Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Miles and MacCraig Warren, brothers traveling from Denver to Los Angeles on their way home from a funeral in August, were “humiliated” but wanted no trouble. They returned to the gate in the required clothes only to find two other young men — one Caucasian, one Filipino — boarding first class dressed in hoodies and sneakers.

The Warrens filed a lawsuit in federal court this week charging the airline with discrimination and causing emotional distress. The brothers have said they’re not after money but that “an apology would be nice.”

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U.S. Airways issued a statement saying it’s taking the allegation seriously and that “we welcome customers of all ethnicities and backgrounds and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.” Their defense may hinge on the fact that the Warrens obtained their first-class tickets through a friend employed by U.S. Airways who provided them with a “buddy pass” — which, an airline representative said, would require the men to dress according to company guidelines for traveling employees. But that policy may not have been made clear to Miles and MacCraig before they were at the gate.

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The episode echoes another airline-attire incident we related last summer (along with other things that get people kicked off airplanes), though in that case a Spirit Airlines crew spirited a passenger off a flight when he became verbally abusive after being asked to lift up his sagging pants.

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Back in the Golden Age of air travel, passengers dressed in business attire to fly. Today, people travel in the same everyday duds they wear to Wal-Mart. Not a great look on some, but maybe if the airlines didn’t treat us like we were in a bus station, we wouldn’t dress like it. Whatever the airplane crew’s perspective on proper attire may be, it should match passenger to passenger — regardless of where he or she is sitting, how much was paid for the ticket or whether a flight attendant is afraid of black people.

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Photo: U.S. Airlines planes / Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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