Former WWE wrestler Natalie Eva Marie refused entry to Qantas business lounge over activewear

A fitness model and former celebrity wrestler has accused Qantas of gender discrimination for refusing to let her into its business class lounge in activewear. 

Former WWE wrestler Natalie Eva Marie expressed her disappointment on social media, saying "In 2020 @qantas airlines Melbourne won't allow a woman holding a business class ticket to enter their business class lounge in active wear. 

"My business IS fitness and an active lifestyle. Qantas prefers their women in a dress. #genderdiscrimination #qantas."

The accompanying photograph shows her dressed in leggings and a matching sweatshirt. 

In a later post, Eva Marie noted that she has no problem with businesses enforcing equitable dress codes but suggested the incident in the Qantas lounge amounted to sexism. 

"My husband was allowed in no problem wearing this," she said - the accompanying picture showing him dressed in a t-shirt and cap. 

"While I was kicked out wearing this. My issue is that standards should be equitably enforced."

Qantas' dress code for its dometic lounges is outlined on its website, where it asks passengers to "follow our smart casual dress guidelines.

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"These guidelines are intended to create an environment everyone can enjoy, so please be mindful of your choice of clothing and footwear when visiting Qantas Clubs and Business Lounges in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney."

Passengers may be denied entry of an item of clothing in deemed "too casual or too inappropriate". Such items may include "head-to-toe gym wear", beachwear (including boardshorts), sleepwear and "revealing, unclean or torn clothing". 

While Eva Marie's outfit could be classified as head-to-toe gymwear, she argued that her husband's could too. 

Qantas has been approached for comment. 

It is not the first time an airline has turned away a passenger for clothing deemed inappropriate. 

In 2019, an American doctor and her eight-year-old sone were barred from boarding an American Airlines flight unless she "covered up" with a blanket.

Rowe, who was returning to the US after a week in Jamaica, said she had been wearing a romper with a tropical print. When she arrived at the Kingston airport, she recalled, she was sweating and stepped inside a bathroom to cool off before boarding.

Rowe then boarded the plane with her son, but a female flight attendant asked her to step outside to talk.

"Do you have a jacket?" Rowe recalled the flight attendant asking, to which she responded no. "You cannot get on the plane dressed like that."

Rowe said she finally yielded because she didn't want to risk her flight and asked the attendant for a blanket. 

She and her son finally walked back to their seats. Her son then covered his face with the blanket. When Rowe peeked under it, she saw that he was crying.

"Mummy, follow the rules,'" he told her, according to Rowe's account. "I'm trying to explain to an 8-year-old - Mummy did not break the rules."

On board, Rowe said she encountered another female passenger who was wearing shorts that were shorter than hers but who apparently faced no issue boarding the plane.

"The difference between that woman and me is she was about a size 2, thin," Rowe said. "It's hard to understand if you are not a double minority, a woman and a black, how it's not pulling a card."

American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said the airline reached out to Rowe after hearing about her experience.

"We apologise to Dr Rowe and her son for their experience," she said. "We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us."

Stuff.co.nz

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

See also: The rules of what flight attendants can and can't wear

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