Since April 2015, Qantas has had a dress code for accessing their lounges, and in the past few years the airline has been in the news several times for this. Well, the airline is once again in the news for their lounge dress code, and in this case I think Qantas is wrong, or at a minimum unfairly inconsistent.
What is the dress code for Qantas Lounges?
There’s a dress code for Qantas Clubs and Qantas Business Lounges in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. As these policies are described, they’re “intended to create an environment everyone can enjoy.”
With this policy, Qantas doesn’t allow:
- Thongs and bare feet
- Head-to-toe gym wear
- Beachwear (including boardshorts)
- Sleepwear (including ugg boots and slippers)
- Clothing featuring offensive images or slogans
- Revealing, unclean or torn clothing
Personally I don’t think a dress code is necessary for lounges, but then again, I also think it’s perfectly fine for Qantas to publish a dress code if they so choose. They’re not exactly asking a whole lot with these requirements.
Qantas’ latest dress code controversy
An American fitness model and former WWE star took to Twitter to complain about being denied access to the Qantas Business Lounge in Melbourne. As she described it:
In 2020 @qantas airlines Melbourne won’t allow a woman holding a business class ticket to enter their business lounge in active wear. My business IS fitness and an active lifestyle. Qantas prefers their women in a dress. #genderdiscrimination #qantas
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 pic.twitter.com/j7XbvKvBrY
— Eva Marie (@natalieevamarie) January 16, 2020
She then continued, as follows:
Clarification: This is NOT a dresscode Issue, I support a businesses right to enforce equitable dresscode standards. However, My husband was allowed in no problem wearing this. While I was kicked out wearing this. My issue is that standards should be equitably enforced @Qantas
Clarification: This is NOT a dresscode issue, I support a businesses right to enforce equitable dresscode standards. However, My husband was allowed in no problem wearing this. While I was kicked out wearing this. My issue is that standards should be equitably enforced @Qantas pic.twitter.com/HSbLVc4W62
— Eva Marie (@natalieevamarie) January 16, 2020
Why I think Qantas is in the wrong
Based on Eva Marie’s first Tweet, I thought she was off base and in the wrong. Qantas has a published dress code, and she was in violation of it, so that’s too bad for her.
But her second Tweet changed my mind. I don’t think it was wrong for her to be denied, but I do think there’s a double-standard when it comes to dress code, and I think she’s spot on for that.
It seems ridiculous that her husband would be allowed in the lounge, but she wouldn’t:
As far as I’m concerned, they’re both wearing head-to-toe gym wear. The logic seems to be that what her husband was wearing is also what someone might wear on a hot day in Australia while not at the gym, while that’s apparently not the case with her outfit.
And that’s also where I think it’s fair to argue that there’s some level of gender discrimination here. They’re both wearing normal gym outfits, it’s just that men typically wear shorts and a t-shirt to the gym, while many women wear an outfit similar to Eva Marie’s.
There’s also a certain level of irony in “hi-vis uniforms” being allowed in the lounge, but the above not being allowed. I totally get the logic, since some people might be coming from work wearing hi-vis uniforms. However:
- That doesn’t exactly create “an environment everyone can enjoy” any more than gym wear, in my opinion
- When it comes down to it, wasn’t Eva Marie actually wearing a hi-vis work “uniform” as well? 😉
To me a lounge dress code just seems unnecessary and like it’s asking for problems. It’s one thing if business casual were required, or something, but it seems silly to have a dress code that still allows people to wear a t-shirt and shorts, while denying others for the type of outfit they’re wearing.
Sure, require people to have some sort of footwear and not to wear anything offensive. But beyond that, this just seems silly.
Qantas has been in the news many times for their lounge dress code, and in this case I think the complaint is valid. While I don’t think it was unreasonable to deny Eva Marie access to the lounge, it does seem unreasonable that her husband was let in with his outfit, as to me these are both very normal gym outfits.
However, for men there seems to be the excuse of “this is also something you can wear on a hot day,” while women apparently can’t use that excuse.
Do you think Qantas is being unfair with their lounge dress code enforcement?