No one objected when Emily O’Connor went through airport security and passport control in a black crop top and high-waisted drawstring trousers.
But when the trainee accountant boarded her flight for Tenerife, cabin crew threatened to remove her because her outfit breached rules against ‘offensive’ clothing.
Miss O’Connor, 21, said that when she refused to put on a jacket, the flight manager and four crew members surrounded her and started taking her luggage from the overhead compartment.
An announcement was made over the onboard PA system explaining why the Thomas Cook flight at Birmingham Airport was being delayed, which left her ‘shaking’ and ‘upset’.
The holiday firm’s rules say customers in ‘inappropriate attire (including items with offensive slogans or images) will not be permitted to travel unless a change of clothes is possible’.
When Miss O’Connor asked fellow passengers whether she was offending anyone, initially no one said a word. Then a man shouted: ‘Shut up you pathetic woman. Put a f****** jacket on.’ She claimed staff said nothing to him despite his offensive language.
Miss O’Connor insisted her outfit was not inappropriate and pointed out that a middle-aged man on the flight was wearing a vest and shorts.
The plane was delayed at the gate for around 20 minutes before Miss O’Connor, who was travelling on a short break with a group of family and friends, was given a jacket by her cousin.
She said: ‘This was the most mortifying experience of my life. It was humiliating – I was crying.
‘Thomas Cook’s behaviour was sexist and misogynistic. Anything I can wear in the street or in the shopping centre I should be able to wear on a flight.’
Miss O’Connor said she decided to recount her experience on Twitter after Thomas Cook failed to offer her a formal apology or a refund.
She posted a poll asking whether her outfit was appropriate or inappropriate. And by last night 82 per cent of just over 55,000 voters believed there was nothing wrong with it.
In a tweet addressed to Thomas Cook, Eleanor Smith said: ‘Subjecting a female to this kind of abuse over the exposure of her arms and chest is not okay! Are you offended by the female body? She was going on holiday?…?is she expected to wear overalls?’
Even many of those who believed her outfit was inappropriate said the firm’s treatment of her was heavy-handed.
Miss O’Connor said she wore the same outfit on her return flight but received no complaints from cabin crew. Thomas Cook said: ‘We are sorry we upset Miss O’Connor. It’s clear we could have handled the situation better.
‘In common with most airlines, we have an appropriate clothing policy. This applies equally to men and women of all ages without discrimination.
‘Our crews have the difficult task of implementing that policy and don’t always get it right.’