Air New Zealand apologises to passenger Courtney Newbold after asking her to cover up on flight

Air New Zealand has apologised to a passenger who was asked to cover up on a flight, with two flight attendants telling her she was "showing too much skin".

Courtney Newbold was boarding the flight from Rarotonga to Auckland on Friday wearing full-length, high-waisted gym pants and two cropped tops layered on top of each other when the flight attendant at the gate commented on her outfit.

"She said to me, 'do you have a t-shirt or something?'," Newbold said.

"Because it's so hot in the airport, I hadn't thought about a jersey or anything. I said, 'no, I don't have it on me, why's that?' She said, 'you're showing too much skin'."

Newbold said she was taken aback by the comments, but borrowed a top from a friend she was travelling with. She had planned to put it on once she was on the plane, but when she reached the top of the stairs, she was met by another flight attendant.

"She said the same thing to me, she said, 'do you have a jersey you can put on?'"

Newbold said she replied yes, and put the top on. But she was left "very upset" by the incident.

"It was shocking to me that in 2021 someone was telling me I can't wear what I was wearing."


Newbold said as she was getting off the plane, she realised many of the male passengers on the flight had been wearing shorts and t-shirts.

"[They were showing] the same amount of skin."

She said she would have been more than happy to comply with any of the airline's rules.

"But there's nothing about the dress code anywhere. To just be told out of the blue, 'you're not dressed appropriately' – I don't think I've ever been told that in my life."

After posting a complaint to the airline's Facebook page on Friday and messaging them again on Sunday, on Monday evening Newbold received a phone call from Air New Zealand's general manager customer Leeanne Langridge.

"She was very apologetic. She said that it was not an Air New Zealand policy and that they were going to investigate," Newbold said.

"She said it wasn't the staff's place to pass judgement on my clothing. She also said that they would look into training in this area. Apparently it has never happened before that she knew of."

Newbold said she was satisfied with the response. "I do feel like it was taken seriously."

In a statement provided to Stuff, Air New Zealand confirmed Langridge had apologised for the way the situation was handled.

"It's always our intention to put customers first and ensure those who travel with us feel welcome and have a comfortable journey, and we apologise that this was not Courtney's experience this time around," Langridge said.

"In this instance, there has been a misunderstanding, but we will be taking this situation as learning and will be re-engaging with our customer-facing teams to ensure that this doesn't happen again."

The incident represents the second time in recent weeks an airline has made headlines for flagging a passenger's outfit as inappropriate.

Professional bodybuilder Deniz Saypinar was barred from boarding an American Airlines flight at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport because her outfit – a brown tank top, denim shorts and a white jacket tied around her waist – was deemed against the airline's dress code.

Air New Zealand's website states: "For everyone's comfort we ask that your clothes are clean and tidy. We're not too formal, so you're welcome to relax in stretch pants. But you're not quite at your beach holiday just yet, so we do need you to keep your footwear on."

See also: Former wrestler and model refused entry to Qantas lounge over outfit

See also: The rules of what you can and can't wear on a plane