A passenger who was refused entry onto a flight because he was wearing shorts had to resort to an unorthodox solution.
Jordan Bishop was traveling from Indonesia to Turkey on Oct 3.
But when he got to front of the line at the gate at the airport in Jakarta, he was pulled aside by an agent for Saudia Airlines, Bishop wrote in a piece in Forbes magazine.
“Sir, I’m afraid we can’t allow you to board,” the manager told him, according to Bishop. “You cannot fly with Saudia wearing shorts.”
Saudia Airlines, also known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, does have a conservative dress code, but it is open to interpretation.
The airline’s website states, “Saudia is requesting from their guests to abide by a dress code where by they are clothed in a manner that is inline with public taste or not offensive to other passengers.”
Bishop said he was taken aback, because he had been wearing the same shorts when he booked the ticket and made his way through the various Saudia services with no suggestion that his dress might be inappropriate.
“Do you have any pants you can change into?” the gate manager asked, according to Bishop.
But, having been in Jakarta for a week in temperatures over 90 degree, Bishop said he didn’t have any pants.
Bishop asked if the airline could provide some. He was told no. “And if you don’t have pants, I can’t allow you to board.”
‘Like a Full-Length Skirt’
So he rushed off looking for a solution, until he found a travel kiosk at the other end of the terminal—selling sarongs.
“I bought the first one I saw, raced back to the gate and tied it around my waist like a full-length skirt,” wrote Bishop.
“The gate crew gave me a once-over, exchanged a few glances amongst themselves, and hesitantly allowed me to board, closing the gate behind me,” he said.
Bishop said that the crew apologized to him, saying it wasn’t his fault for not knowing the rules.
He said that one attendant told him privately that there had been several cases where passengers had not been allowed to fly.
At the time of writing, Saudia has not responded to a request for comment.
Bishop is a Forbes contributor and founder of Yore Oyster, a corporate flights concierge.
Previous media reports in August last year said that Saudia Airlines had an explicit policy that did include a ban on men wearing shorts.
Following a squall of criticism on Twitter, however, it apparently removed the policy.
Those clothing rules included a ban on “women exposing legs or arms, or wearing too thin or too tight clothes and men wearing shorts exposing legs.”
Saudia is the national carrier of Saudi Arabia, a country that follows a conservative interpretation of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism.
Saudi Arabian law lays out a strict dress code, which is strictly enforced.
“Women should wear conservative, loose-fitting clothes as well as a full length cloak (abaya) and a headscarf.” according to official travel advice from the British Foreign Office. “Men should not wear shorts in public.”