Bare arms, thin fabrics, fitted clothes banned by Saudi Arabian Airlines
Saudi Arabia's national carrier has set off a social media storm after updating its passengers' code of conduct with some pretty strict dress restrictions.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, also known as Saudia, warned that those who were "clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offence to other passengers" could be turned away at the gate.
What constitutes discomforting or offensive clothing? "Women exposing legs or arms, or wearing thin or too tight clothes and men wearing shorts exposing legs," Saudia went on to explain in its expanded dress code, which has since been removed from its website. Bare feet are out too, but that's not a surprise: shoes are mandatory on all flights due to health and safety regulations.
When asked about its dress restrictions, Saudia went all coy, refusing to explain why the bare arms, too-tight and thin fabric rules appeared to apply only to women. It also declined to elaborate on who would judge the dress standards, how they would be enforced, or how passengers who breached the rules mid-flight - by removing a jumper, for example - would be dealt with.
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The airline didn't help its case when it claimed the dress requirements were issued by the International Air Transport Association and enforced to different degrees by other carriers - something the IATA immediately refuted.
Online reactions were swift. While a few defended Saudia's right to enforce modest dress, most were unimpressed.
Already know this which is why I never fly #SaudiAirlines. I did use one of their lounges though not long ago. No issue with bare arms.— Ana (@TellDramaUK) August 10, 2017
2/2 like this and eat this and do this then rightly so, all non-Muslims can respect the country's religion they travel to #SaudiAirlines— Nafisah (@hasfisah) August 10, 2017
The airline previously came under fire in 2015, when it denied claims that it was considering enforcing a gender split on its flights after it reportedly received complaints from male passengers about other men sitting next to their female family members, and the "flirty" behaviour of a flight attendant.
Saudia Arabia, which adheres to tenets of Islamic law, dictates a strict dress code for people in the country. Women, including foreigners, are required to wear an abaya (a long black cloak) that covers the entire body, except for the hands and face, in public, while men wear a thobe (an ankle-length traditional robe) and a headdress.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, which launched more than 70 years ago, was named "World's Most Improved Airline" at Skytrax's annual World Airline Awards, ranked 51st (up from 82nd last year) among the world's best airlines.