Words: Elizabeth Di Filippo
An Australian woman said she was “publicly slut-shamed” by two Jetstar airline employees while trying to board a flight at the Sydney Airport.
While waiting for her flight home to Melbourne, Serah Nathan said she was waiting in the airport lounge sitting on her boyfriend’s lap when she was approached by two female airline employees who she believed went out of their way to satisfy a “personal itch” and “berate a complete stranger.”
In a series of tweets, the 33-year-old writer shared screen-grabs of her written complaint to the airline on Twitter recalling how the first unnamed airline employee asked her not to sit on her partner’s lap “because there are children watching.”
Nathan wrote,“I begun questioning my partner about what airport law we broke by sharing a seat, when in less than one minute your brunette rep returned, this time with ‘Team Leader’ ‘Jo’ who sported blonde hair and an even shorter bob cut.”
“I doubt you’ll be able to board your flight dressed like that.”
Today I got publicly slut-shamed by two @JetstarAirways employees, whilst wearing this outfit! 🤷🏽♀️
Play by play in tweets to follow. (1/4)
cc. @Mamamia @pedestriandaily pic.twitter.com/QKg4Zk1N9W
— Serah Nathan (@serahann) November 3, 2019
According to Nathan, Jo instructed her once again not to sit on her boyfriend’s lap. When questioned, the Team Leader reportedly said, “You’re disrespecting the parents here by straddling your boyfriend.”
“I wasn’t treating a domestic airport terminal like a strip club. It seems Team Leader Jo was in the mood to publicly shame me,” Nathan wrote to the airline. “Jo continued, asking me what flight I was on then continued her slut-shaming mission by adding, ‘I’ll doubt you’ll be able to board your flight dressed like that but either way you can’t sit at this boarding gate you’ll have to sit in the Tiger lounge.”
Nathan shared a photo of herself wearing sweatpants, a grey crop top and running shoes, adding that she was “too shocked, too embarrassed, too enraged and too humiliated” to argue with the employee, and left the lounge area.
In her complaint to Jetstar, Nathan linked a similar story that made headlines in February 2019 when a woman travelling with the airline said she was “embarrassed” by staff.
Shoshana Strykert revealed on Facebook that she was “shocked” when airline staff approached her to tell her that her crop top was “inappropriate” and ordered her to cover herself with a blanket or T-shirt.
Unlike Strykert, Nathan told Jetstar she would not accept a $50 (£27) compensation voucher, and was instead holding the airline accountable and the employees accountable for their actions.
She concluded her message by asking the airline to comment on whether or not her outfit and behaviour with her boyfriend “was in breach of safe airport code.”
“If this situation was bore from a couple of narky employees who couldn’t bare to to see a woman of colour taking a final few minutes to connect with her long distance partner,” she wrote, “then you have a problem on your hands, Jetstar.”
After submitting her online complaint, Nathan told news.com.au that she received a message from a Jetstar employee which read, “I have checked your photo and I think you are very beautiful, your boyfriend must be very lucky to have you.”
While the airline employee offered to create a case on Nathan’s behalf and flag for customer service, she reportedly added, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to sit on your boyfriend’s knees since there were available seats where you can sit, too. I believe that they were only protecting other passengers and also you are in a public space. I can understand that you were not engaging in sexual activity but then again, I believe this kind of body language must be done in a public place.”
In a statement, a Jetstar spokesperson said the Sydney Airport staff “dispute the allegations” from Nathan.
“We are speaking to our airport team to better understand what happened,” the airline continued. “We don’t tolerate discrimination in any form and our teams dispute allegations they were acting this way. We apologise to Serah for the manner in which her query was handled by our online customer service representative which fell well short of the standards we expect.”