Here at Short Motivation, we’re often rushing to our flight after a vacation or long shoot. Can’t tell you how many times we’ve left it to the last minute to pack and rush to the airport with minutes to spare. We’re not huge fans of sitting around at an airport before a flight.
With this in mind, we often arrive in a pair of shorts. You’d expect to travel in a pair of shorts if setting off from any warm country. No airline we know of will ever complain, even in First Class.
Not Saudi Arabian Airlines, which appears to have a dress code. Jordan Bishop, a travel contributor for Forbes, recently travelled from Jakarta to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. He checked in successfully, with plenty of time before his flight, then made his way through security and spent time in the lounge, as most people would pre-flight.
He headed for the gate when called. When waiting to board, Jordan was asked to step aside with no further information. After waiting for the manager to appear, he was told “Sir, I’m afraid we can’t allow you to board. You cannot fly with Saudia wearing shorts.”
Asked to change into long pants, as you’d expect when you are about to board, Jordan didn’t have any on him. It had been 90° in Jakarta, so he didn’t expect to be wearing long pants, so had worn shorts for the few days he was in the region. He wasn’t allowed on the flight.
It turns out that Saudi Arabian Airlines does indeed have a dress code, which simply 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. No mention of shorts, but it appears men’s shorts fall within the remit of ‘offensive to other passengers’. Or at least when boarding.
To complicate matters further, Jordan was told that only the boarding process affects the dress code. You can board in long pants, but change into shorts for the flight itself, once on board (most likely in the toilet, obviously). It’s as confusing to us as it was to Jordan why he wasn’t notified at check-in when he clearly appeared in shorts.
Jordan managed to board his flight. After running back to the terminal post-security stores, he simply bought a sarong, which was enough to cover his legs during the boarding process.
Has anything similar happened to a Short Motivation reader? We’ve never experienced anything close to this, travelling any class and with any airline. We’ve experienced issues with storing our cabin bags and the airline having to store in the hold. But we’ve never previously heard of dress code issues when attempting to board a flight.