Underdressed Passenger or Overreacting Airline?

Kyla Ebbert was reprimanded for wearing outfit on a Southwest flight.

ByABC News
September 7, 2007, 11:26 AM

Sept. 7, 2007 — -- Her outfit aboard a Southwest Airlines plane two months ago first earned her a flight attendant's reprimand and now has sparked a decency debate that may result in a lawsuit.

Kyla Ebbert, a blond, shapely 23-year-old San Diego coed who also works shifts at a Hooters restaurant, boarded the flight to Tucson, Ariz., on a one-day round-trip visit to an Arizona doctor's appointment. She had settled into her seat when a flight attendant confronted her about what was later described by the airline as "revealing attire."

Ebbert's so-called objectionable attire included a white, tight-fitting shirt, a green cropped sweater, and a white denim skirt cut high on her thighs.

Ebbert appeared on NBC's "The Today Show" today wearing the same outfit and said that she was asked by a male flight attendant to come to the front of the plane by the door to the jetway. There, Ebbert said that she was told she would have to catch a later flight because she was showing too much skin and Southwest is a "family" airline.

Ebbert said she told the flight attendant she needed to remain on that flight so could make her doctor's appointment and that because she was on a day trip, she had not packed any luggage from which she could take clothes to change.

The flight attendant, she said, suggested that she go to a gift shop to buy clothes. She offered to pull the top of her sweater tight over her breasts and her skirt down as far as possible, a compromise that was accepted.

The airline does not dispute the confrontation, but stands by its decision to "adjust" her outfit.

"Southwest Airlines was responding to a concern about Ms. Ebbert's revealing attire on the flight that day," the airline said in a statement. "As a compromise, we asked her to adjust her clothing to be a little less revealing. She complied and traveled as scheduled.

"Fortunately, as an airline that carries approximately 96 million customers a year, these situations are extremely rare."

Though she accepted the compromise, Ebbert said she was left embarrassed by the situation, which she said played out in front of fellow passengers -- so embarrassed she requested a blanket to cover herself for the flight.