It wasn’t the first time this woman had flown – not by a long way. But it was the first time that she had ever been treated in such a way. All she had wanted to do was go home to her children, but, instead, she received an extremely unpleasant surprise.
After arriving at the gate with plenty of time to spare and boarding the plane, anxious to get home, she was denied her flight. Not only that, she was even forcibly removed from the plane. All because of her choice of clothing!
A Break in the Sun
31-year old Harriet Osborne had just been on a much-deserved vacation in the south of Spain, soaking up the sun, swimming in the sea, and enjoying spending time with her friends.
Intending to return home refreshed and recharged, she was simply taking some time out from her hectic life back home to get some peace of mind.
Leaving Reality Back at Home
Harriet worked as a makeup artist back home in England; at the same time, she was single-handedly raising her children. She needed a break from the daily grind.
Used to the dreary, rainy days in England, she decided that this would also be the perfect opportunity to get some sun. She longed to relax while she basked in the warm rays.
Dressing for a Hot Climate
Not that she ever thought that it’d be brought into question, but according to Harriet, she would never wear revealing clothes of any sort back home in England, especially around her children.
However, while on vacation and free from the stress of everyday life – especially while in a much hotter climate than she was used to – she felt inclined to dress a little more liberally.
When Life’s a Beach
She spent the entire vacation feeling relaxed and – most of all – care-free. She spent a lot of her days walking along the beaches in her bikini without the worry of being judged.
After all, the weather was great, and she was in Spain. But little did she know that her trip would end in tears – and her care-free mindset would be to blame.
Starting to Feel Homesick
By the time her vacation was over, despite having a fantastic time, she was ready to go back to England. By now, she was missing her family and home comforts.
With her suitcase full of gifts for her children, she packed her bags in preparation to leave. Of course, she’d miss being away from the usual stresses of everyday life, but she was also excited to get home.
Reflecting on a Much-Needed Break
As she packed, she thought about how much she’d needed this time away. She’d enjoyed herself in a new place and soaked up everything it had to offer.
With the beaches, sun, sea, and friends, it had been a perfect, much-needed break. Harriet felt recharged and motivated.
The Best of the Sea and Sun
Malaga is located on the Costa del Sol, which literally means ‘coast of the sun.’ It’s not, therefore, hard to imagine what it’s like there.
Many areas of Spain – especially southern Spanish beach towns – are always full of British tourists, and the Costa del Sol is no exception.
Something Missing During a ‘Perfect’ Time
Harriet, like so many other British tourists, had chosen it as her holiday destination – and some might say that it’s like a home away from home, with the number of British people there.
For the first time in a while, Harriet was able to relax totally in the company of her friends. She couldn’t imagine anything going wrong – everything seemed perfect.
Swapping Gray for Blue
British tourists tend to find the Costa del Sol attractive because of the climate. When it’s cold and rainy in the UK, it’s usually warm in Spain, so there’s often an influx of tourists, especially in the hotter months.
Harriet was aiming to capitalize on this as much as possible. She’d enjoy Spain’s blue skies instead of England’s gray skies, laying out in the sun for hours – something she could only fantasize about back home.
Delaying Reality as Long as Possible
Harriet knew that her vacation was about to end and that she would have to return home soon. Packing her bags, she couldn’t help but feel excited to be reunited with her children.
However, there was one last thing that she wanted to fit in before she boarded her flight – a shopping spree.
A Pampered Girls Day
With her friends, Harriet went to Av. De Andalucía, where multiple high-end fashion shops are located. Entranced by the dazzling display in front of her, she had no idea what would happen later.
Dazzled by the Display
The ladies stopped at El Corte Ingles, which was where, in a display window, Harriet saw the most beautiful top.
It was a sheer blouse that caught her eye, and she immediately wanted to buy it. But then her eyes widened in disbelief when she saw just how much money it cost.
Succumbing to Peer Pressure
There was no way Harriet was prepared to spend so much money on one top, so she immediately turned her attention away. One of her friends, however, insisted she at least try it on. After all, what harm could it do?
Succumbing to peer pressure, Harriet began to agree that it wouldn’t hurt to try it on. She was still in vacation mode and thought it’d just be a bit of fun.
There’s No Harm in Trying
Harriet’s friends agreed that because they were on vacation, this was the time to try new things, including items of clothing – and there’s no harm in trying!
Harriet picked up the blouse and took it to the changing room. If only she knew the drama, this simple item of clothing would cause.
Looking Like a Million Dollars
Alone in the changing room wearing the blouse, Harriet – usually a modest lady – was shocked at how she looked. It suited her perfectly, and she just knew that there was no way she was going to walk away and forget about it.
Making an impulsive decision, she charged it to her card. Unfortunately, she still had no idea that it was going to be the source of huge controversy later on. At the time, she felt elated.
A Final Farewell
With her shopping bag in hand, feeling delirious with happiness over her purchase, Harriet tried to forget all about how much her impulsiveness just cost her.
Before leaving for the airport, the group of friends had a final lunch and checked out their hotel. Harriet did a quick, final survey of her hotel room.
A Moment of Regret
It was at that moment that she was the designer shopping bag sitting on a chair in the corner. She had nearly forgotten it!
Immediately, she felt slightly nauseous. Why on earth had she spent so much money on that blouse? Did she make a huge mistake?
The Real Cost Is Still Unknown
Still then, even with her initial wave of doubt, Harriet had no idea that she was about to have one of the worst days of her life.
Even with her gut feeling of doubt, she had no real clue just what that blouse would end up costing her.
Paying the Price for an Impulse Decision
It was too late now, however – Harriet would have to pay the price for her impulse decision. Whatever that may be …
Still, even in her wildest dreams, Harriet wouldn’t have thought it would end up costing much more than a fistful of euros.
A Feminist at Heart
Harriet was a feminist at heart – she always had been and believed that women should have the freedom to wear anything that they wanted, without being subject to inappropriate behavior or judgment.
After all, how was it fair that men could wear what they want, but women couldn’t?
Still a Demure Woman
However, Harriet was still a demure woman, so to speak. She didn’t dress or act provocatively in any way – she was just a modern woman who wore clothes that made her look and feel good.
Little did she know that a shopping trip with her friends would end up giving her the shock of a lifetime.
Too Late to Turn Back
At any rate, she had bought the top. Impulse buy or not, there was no going back now. Feeling spontaneous, Harriet took the blouse out of the bag.
She put it on once again and was still impressed by how it looked. This time, she also noticed how well it showed off her tan.
Feeling Good About Herself
She was on vacation, right? And she felt good about herself – after all, there was no reason for her to be self-conscious.
At least, that’s what she thought. Unfortunately for Harriet, she couldn’t have been more wrong.
Checking in to Check Out
Harriet arrived at the airport in time, fleeing mixed emotions. She was sad that the vacation was over, but she equally wanted to see her children.
She checked in her luggage and breathed a sigh of relief – she was homeward-bound.
Making a Few Last stops
Harriet had some time to kill before her flight, so she went to the duty-free store to buy more gifts for her friends and family. They were the only thing on her mind at the time.
At last, she heard the flight announcement through the speakers. She had no idea what would be in store for her when she tried to board her plane…
A Comforting Thought of Family
Walking through the airport lounge to her gate, Harriet noticed all the families together and felt a pang in her stomach. She missed her children terribly.
The good thing, however, was that she would finally be them soon enough. This thought comforted her.
All Going Like Clockwork
It was all going like clockwork – at first, anyway. A flight attendant checked her passport and motioned for her to go down the tunnel toward the plane. Everything was fine until the moment she got to the airplane door.
Then, something happened that she didn’t anticipate. How could she?! Everything had been perfect so far … but her day was about to change dramatically.
The Moment that Changed the Day
The first thing that Harriet noticed was an air hostess standing at the door. She greeted all of the passengers warmly as they walked past her – nothing out of the ordinary.
However, when she saw Harriet, her face dropped. It seemed as though she was truly speechless.
Harriet was shocked by the look that she received. It wasn’t like she had done anything out of the ordinary, so she initially thought that the air hostess had mistaken her for someone else.
She shrugged it off and carried on walking onto the plane, eager to find her seat and get settled. Instead, she was stopped in her tracks by the air stewardess.
Something Appears to Be Wrong
The stewardess, while keeping her eye on Harriet, approached the rest of the flight attendants. They all started to talk to one another in hushed tones.
Harriet started to feel the flickers of anxiety as she wondered what on earth could possibly be wrong. A million things started racing through her mind as the time ticked by.
Waiting for the Verdict
After what seemed like an eternity – but was actually, in fact, only a couple of minutes – the air stewardess who initially stopped Harriet came back over to reveal what all the fuss was about.
Harriet took a deep breath and prepared for the worst, even though she knew that she had nothing to hide. How serious could the problem be?!
The Moment of Truth
Despite knowing deep down that she’d done nothing wrong, Harriet was quietly worried. Maybe the air stewardess had confused her with someone else that had done something illegal?!
The stewardess approached Harriet with a strange look on her face and hesitated before speaking. Meanwhile, Harriet’s heart was racing.
The Verdict: Access Denied
Then the words came: “You’re not coming on my plane like that — you need to put a top on.” To add insult to injury, the air stewardess proceeded to try and cover Harriet’s body with her hands.
Harriet was aware that she was wearing a fairly revealing blouse, but she knew she had still kept her modesty. Was there really a cause for such a reaction?
Complaints from the Passengers
The air stewardess then informed Harriet that they had received multiple complaints from other passengers regarding the blouse she was wearing, so action had to be taken.
But this was all before Harriet had even been able to board the plane! She felt that the matter had been taken out of hand and began to get irritated by the treatment she had received.
What Had Even Happened?
Harriet couldn’t believe what was happening. She certainly didn’t believe that her fellow passengers had complained to staff before she even boarded the plane!
How could she have offended anyone or made them uncomfortable? The problem had to stem from the cabin staff instead, she decided.
Taking the Higher Ground
Harriet was not only annoyed but also publicly humiliated. Who did these people think they were? Why did they think they had the right to tell her what she could and couldn’t wear?
But Harriet kept her cool. After all, she just wanted was to get home to her children, so instead of continuing to argue, she grabbed a sweater from her bag and put it on. Surely that would be the end of it?
Trying to Lay Low
As you can imagine, it was an embarrassing situation for Harriet. Feeling extremely self-conscious, she just wanted to get the flight out of the way and forget all about it.
She went over to her seat, feeling everyone’s eyes on her with every step that she took. She kept her head down, trying not to attract any more attention.
Heading Back to Her Family
Harriet tried to console herself with the thought that at least she made it to her seat and was about to be in the air. Soon enough, she would forget that it even happened.
All that mattered, at the end of the day, was that she would be back with her children soon.
A First Time for Everything
As Harriet sat there, however, her anger started to brew. She knew she needed to remain calm, but it was easier said than done after what had just happened.
She had flown multiple times in the past, but she’d never experienced anything like this at all. It wasn’t fair, and she knew it. She had done nothing wrong.
Sitting Like a Ticking Bomb
Harriet was indignant. Although she tried her best to stay quiet, she couldn’t help herself when the air hostess walked past her.
After all, she had so much to say, and it was difficult to hold it in. She hadn’t done anything wrong, so why shouldn’t she stand up for herself?
Time to Blast Off
Harriet couldn’t help but say something. She was frank with the air hostess, stating that she was mortified by what happened and that the cabin staff made her feel cheap.
Just like everyone else on the plane, Harriet had paid for a ticket, so she had no idea why she got singled out for her choice of outfit. Besides, no one else seemed to have a problem with it.
Feeling Like a Victim
Looking back as she sat there in her chair, waiting for the cabin crew’s verdict, Harriet didn’t understand how all of this even started.
If there had been an obvious issue with her outfit, why hadn’t it been flagged up at some point in the airport? She was tired and beginning to seriously worry now.
Serving the Ultimate Punishment
The verdict was in: Harriet was told that she needed to disembark the plane. She couldn’t believe it had come to this and, understandably, felt even more infuriated than before.
Not only would she miss her flight that she had paid for – and be delayed in seeing her beloved children again – she had nowhere to go now.
Things Can Only Get Better?
At first, Harriet decided that she was not going to budge. Unfortunately, however, the disagreement began to get more heated, with the situation escalating quickly.
Before too long, Harriet had to be forcibly removed from the plane by security. She had no choice but to spend the entire night at the airport, thereby wasting the ticket that cost her $200.
Time to Throw a Tantrum?
In a later interview, Harriet recalled: “I just burst out crying.” As she sat in the airport contemplating her options, she noticed police officers heading her way.
They told Harriet that the cabin crew explained that she was removed from the plane due to disruptive behavior. What could Harriet say? Dread filled her stomach.
Intervention from the Pilot
It turns out that even the pilot had to intervene during the disagreement on the plane. Harriet had watched as he spoke to the head stewardess about the matter.
After they had spoken, it had, in fact, been the pilot that confirmed that Harriet should be removed from the flight. That had been the final straw.
Explaining All to the Police
Harriet had no other option but to tell the police officers her side of the story. And luckily, they agreed with her when she said there was no reason for her to be kicked off the plane.
It was a small victory for Harriet – at least they saw her viewpoint and agreed with it! Still, there was nothing that could be done regarding her ticket and the money she lost.
Finally Making It Home
Harriet managed to make it home without any more problems, though. But when she got there, she made a point of informing everyone about what she had to go through at the Spanish airport.
News stations got wind of the story soon enough and asked her for interviews. The story went viral, and Harriet began to wonder if she’d gone too far.
Two Sides of the Story
There were mixed opinions about what happened. One person wrote online: “She can wear whatever she wants… she is getting on a plane with people’s screaming brats.
The stewards are not the fashion police – they are there to serve you.”
Controversial Viewpoints Aired Online
Of course, others didn’t agree. One Facebook user said: “Why would any sensible person get on a plane wearing something like that?
I mean, I personally wouldn’t care she was nude! But she’s not wearing ‘flying’ clothes!”
It’s All a Matter of Opinion
It would seem that the picture of Harriet’s outfit divides opinion, with many strongly stating that it was just too revealing for a plane.
Others begged to disagree, claiming that it’s up to an individual to wear whatever they want and that this particular outfit didn’t cross any lines. They also said that no one had the right to make her feel ashamed for it.
The Airline Defends Itself
The airline spoke out to defend itself – and the staff on duty at the time of the incident – against the controversial situation.
“We can confirm that a passenger traveling from Malaga to Stansted on 23 June was unable to travel due to behaving disruptively,” an EasyJet spokesperson informed Fox News.
Something Doesn’t Add Up
They continued: “Following concerns about her clothing, crew politely requested that the customer wear an additional top for the flight, which the customer agreed to.”
But something didn’t quite add up to Harriet. Why did they ask her to get off the plane after she complied with their initial requests by putting on her sweater?
The Reason Behind the Action
The airline gave its reason: “However, she then proceeded to act disruptively towards a member of our crew.
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 toward our staff.”
A Family Visit to France
Joy’s reason for flying to Bordeaux was to see her son, who lived there. Her other son made a four-hour round trip from Canterbury to take her to the airport.
He helped her check in her baggage, waving her goodbye as she went through security. This was more than 90 minutes before Joy’s departure time.
Special Assistance Gone Wrong
Unfortunately, something went horribly wrong regarding Joy’s luggage. The members of the ground handling staff that are supposed to provide special assistance made a costly mistake.
This mistake led to Ms. Burton missing her flight, despite being in the airport. On top of that, she then had to wait for her luggage – which consisted of a suitcase and a walking aid – to be given back to her.
A Lone Flight to Bordeaux
Eventually – an hour and a half later – the airline and informed Ms. Burton that the baggage had been flown to Bordeaux, despite the fact that she wasn’t on the plane herself.
Obviously, that shouldn’t have happened. Baggage is scanned before the plane it’s on takes off, with aviation security tasked with ensuring the bags are offloaded when a passenger checks in their luggage but doesn’t board the plane. Something had obviously gone seriously wrong here.
An Alternative Flight on an Alternative Day
Although the airline had another flight to Bordeaux scheduled for the next day, it was full. They offered Ms. Burton alternative flights, but unfortunately, the first direct one was a whole two days later.
This would mean that she’d have to wait another 48 hours before being able to start her journey from London to Bordeaux – without her luggage, which she desperately needed.
The Cost of Having No Bags
The airline promised to keep her bag and walking aid safe in Bordeaux and that it would be waiting for her on arrival. While this sounded good in one sense, it, unfortunately, meant that Ms. Burton had mobility issues while she waited to travel.
In terms of the law, she should have immediately been told of her entitlement to £215 in compensation for being denied boarding. But she wasn’t.
The Family’s Unimpressed Reaction
Joy’s son, Hugh, said: “In order to benefit from lower costs, we have all had to toughen up to deal with the vicissitudes and occasional indignities of the low-cost carriers.
However, when my 88-year-old mother is treated by easyJet in such a thoughtless and unintelligent way, it shows that the care for old and vulnerable people has been washed away in the cost-cutting.”
An Issue for the Top Dog
He continued: “This needs to be addressed by their chief executive, as it cuts to the core of the values at the heart of the organization.”
At the time, a spokesperson for the airline apologized, saying it “understands how difficult this will have been for her.”
An Apology Issued Too Late?
The airline added: “EasyJet is very sorry that Ms. Burton was unable to travel from London Luton to Bordeaux on 22 May and understands how difficult this will have been for her.
We know how crucial it is for our customers who require special assistance to feel confident when traveling and as such, we have urgently asked CCS [the assistance provider] and London Luton Airport to investigate what went wrong and ensure that lessons are learned.”
Finally, Compensation Is Offered
They went on, “A member of our customer team is in touch with her concerning denied boarding compensation. EasyJet carries over 500,000 passengers who needed special assistance every year.
Last year, the customer satisfaction among this group of passengers was 83%, 12 percentage points above all passengers. The safety and welfare of our passengers is always easyJet’s highest priority.”
More Stories Come Out of the Woodwork
As it turns out, easyJet has had plenty of incidents like this. For example, once, the airline apparently forgot to board 29 passengers on a Malaga-Bristol flight!
The passengers were still waiting to board when they were notified that their plane had already taken off! Can you imagine that?
Trapped in the Corridor
The passengers’ luggage was already in the hold when the plane left, with 58-year-old Lain Locke saying that the group was left “trapped” in the corridor at the boarding gate.
“The stairwell was full, and people were getting on the plane, but then boarding seemed to stop,” he said.
A Departed Plane with Missing Passengers
“After wondering what was going on, I looked through the doors onto the airport apron, and the plane had gone.
I turned round to the guy beside me and said, ‘I don’t want to alarm you, but the plane has gone.” He added.
Trying to Raise the Alarm
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “We were banging on the doors for about ten minutes trying to raise the alarm.
It was a bit freaky being locked in there — especially for the people with young children.”
“An Issue at the Boarding Gate”
When asked about it, easyJet said that the incident was due to an “issue at the boarding gate.”
Do you think that’s a good enough excuse? Either way, the airline contacted all the affected passengers and issued formal apologies, hoping that would be enough and the matter would be brushed under the carpet.
The Start of an Investigation
Unfortunately for the airline, that wasn’t the end of the matter – a formal investigation was launched, and the passengers involved were given a full refund as well as flight vouchers.
According to easyJet, 19 of the passengers took up their offer to get a later flight to London. But what about the rest?
The Rest Were Left in Spain
The other 10 passengers ended up staying in Spain at the airline’s expense. They then flew out to Bristol on a different day for no extra charge.
Which of the two groups would you have been in? Do you know what you’d do if this happened to you while traveling?
A Large Percentage Missing
Think about it: there were 110 passengers already on the flight, but somehow the crew didn’t notice they were missing 29 people. That’s a pretty large percentage – you do the math!
Another reason as to why this is so surprising is because once boarding cards have been issued, the name is automatically put on the list of people due to fly. So it’s safe to say that it’s actually difficult to make this kind of cock-up!
A Strange-but-True Story
What this really means is that the cabin crew must have known that the remaining passengers were in the building somewhere, waiting to fly. They just didn’t realize they weren’t on the plane!
It’s actually pretty crazy when you think about how many people are part of the airline crew – but, even so, it happened!
Another easyJet Mishap: Disneyland
There’s yet another easyJet mishap story that we couldn’t resist telling you. This time, it’s about Jack Gray, who booked a trip to Disneyland with his partner and 5-year-old son, Oliver.
Despite the fact that the family got to the airport at 4:30 am, they missed their 7:30 am flight due to confusion regarding the line to board the plane.
A Family Waiting in Vain
Mr. Gray said, “We were waiting for the fast-track passengers to board, but we hadn’t seen the normal passengers were queuing behind a pillar.
It wasn’t signposted.” Fast-forward and the 28-year-old had to pay an extra £244 for seats on the 6:30 pm flight to Paris.
The Story Behind the Mishap
So, here’s the story of how the family missed their flight in the first place. Firstly, they checked in without any issues and were waiting in the airport for boarding – nothing out of the ordinary.
At 6:50 am, the gate number was released. Not wasting any time, the family was at the gate less than 10 minutes later.
Fast-Tracking to Nowhere
Mr. Gray saw a large sign for the fast-track line, which they assumed was for people who had fast-track passes. They had normal tickets, so they waited patiently for their turn.
All seemed well, but at 7:05 am, the board said that the gate closed at 7 am. The family couldn’t believe what they were seeing – surely there had been some kind of mistake? They had been waiting to board!
Surely a Simple Mistake
The family was sure that the flight was simply running behind schedule and that the information that they were looking at had been issued incorrectly. They went to the help desk to get an update.
“As we got there, the doors were closing,” Mr. Gray said. “The women at the desk said we’d missed our flight.”
A Missed Flight and a Baffled Family
Completely and utterly baffled by the situation, Mr. Gray questioned the airline staff how it was possible for the family to have missed the flight. There had been no signs to point them to the normal waiting line, so how were they to know when to get on the plane?
“One of the women said she’d radio through to try and get us on, but the departure people on the other end said no.” Mr. Gray said.
Taking the Bus Instead?
An employee at the desk then said that there might be a bus that could take the family to the plane – a welcome piece of news indeed. But, unfortunately, it didn’t work out.
“The woman radioed through again, and I heard her say, ‘I already told them you said no, so it’s down to you.’” Mr. Gray continued.
Disappointment with the Airline
The family was not happy about this turn of events – not by any means. Understandably, they were extremely frustrated – not only by what had happened but also by the way the airline had handled the situation.
Mr. Gray said that easyJet staff told him that the usual ‘last call’ on the speaker wasn’t done due to a “silent airport” policy.
Lying About the Policy
Mr. Gray was unsatisfied with that explanation, so he went directly to the information desk at Bristol Airport. The employee on duty told him that there was no such policy at the airport.
Not only that, but the information desk later informed Mr. Gray that the gate had shut at 7:12 am, not 7:06 am. Surely this couldn’t be happening?!
The Airline Refuses to Accept
As for easyJet, a spokesperson said: “We are sorry Mr. Gray and his family missed their flight to Paris on December 9, but we do not accept that this was as a result of inadequate signage.
There are 100 digital screens positioned throughout the terminal, including at each boarding gate where airline staff is also on hand to help with any queries from passengers.”