Saudia to deny boarding to improperly clothed passengers

Published:  11 Aug at 6 PM
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Expats and visitors to Saudi Arabia have been warned to dress discreetly when flying with national carrier Saudi Arabia Airlines.

Saudi Arabia’s national airline, known locally as Saudia, has issued a warning to passengers who dress inappropriately for their flight. Garments which ‘cause discomfort or distress to other passengers’ include outfits which show womens’ arms and legs, womens' clothes which are too tight or too thin and men’s’ shorts which expose their legs. The dress code’s full list of prohibited outfits is available on the airline’s website along with other travel do’s and don’ts, and also includes travelling barefoot, possibly a blow to those who remove their shoes during the flight to avoid painful swelling.

Unsurprisingly, the dress code has prompted social media outrage as well as requests for clarification as the airline hasn’t made it clear whether it applies across all on-plane classes and to all passengers including children and babies. Another repeated question addresses whether men showing their arms or wearing tight tops and trousers will also be refused boarding, and many are asking about further consequences should they not be allowed on the flight or are found to have removed articles of clothing during the flight.

A separate web page on the subject, written in the English language and giving the same instructions to expat travellers and tourists, has now been removed with no explanation given.Its disappearance seems to have coincided with a Twitter storm of negative comments on the issue. As yet, no clarification has been provided by the airline as regards the many questions about the new ban, not has it given reasons as to why and exactly when the dress code was introduced.

A spokesperson for the airline told local English language media the dress code isn’t exclusive to Saudia, as it’s already being enforced by many other airlines following a ruling by IATA. Confusing the issue still further is a statement from IATA denying the airline’s claim as fake news. Dress code policy, it says, is entirely up to the airline itself. In 2015, Saudia was forced to deny claims it was setting up a gender split on its flights after complaints by male passengers that strange men were sitting next to their wives.
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