The airline said Maggie McMuffin's shorts 'may offend other families on the flight'

By Dave Quinn
Updated June 01, 2016 04:15 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Maggie McMuffin

A Burlesque dancer who goes by the name of Maggie McMuffin almost missed her flight on May 18. But it wasn’t the long lines at the TSA security check that caused her trouble – it was her outfit.

A JetBlue representative refused to let McMuffin board her flight unless she changed her clothes, McMuffin explained to PEOPLE, as her black and white cropped shorts were deemed too short by the flight’s captain and onboard crew.

The 26-year-old says she felt “body-shamed” and “slut-shamed” after being told if she couldn’t find new bottoms by the time the gate closed, she’d have to take another flight.

“The gate and onboard crew discussed the customer’s clothing and determined that the burlesque shorts may offend other families on the flight,” a JetBlue spokesperson said in a statement to PEOPLE. “While the customer was not denied boarding, the crewmembers politely asked if she could change.”

McMuffin, who was also wearing a long-sleeved white sweater and thigh-high socks, says she was never told her outfit was offensive to other families until after JetBlue’s statement was made.

“Customers were never brought into it,” McMuffin tells PEOPLE. “So it feels a bit patronizing to the customers to assume they’d be offended. There was no problem and now there is a problem.”

The Seattle native was traveling home from New York on the airline, with a layover in Boston’s Logan Airport. And while her outfit didn’t cause her any trouble on her first flight, it was flagged just five minutes before boarding her second flight.

After asking about solutions with crew members – including tying a sweater around her waist or covering up with a blanket – McMuffin agreed to purchase a new pair of shorts at a neighboring kiosk.

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Since news broke of the incident, McMuffin says the response she’s received from the public has been “a mixed bag.” “I’ve gotten a lot of support from my community, from strangers, and from men who tell me they would love to fly next to me,” McMuffin says, laughing. “I’ve also gotten a lot of people calling me a slut, and a degenerate, and a waste of media time.”

The negative comments only seem to emphasize McMuffin’s feelings of “slut-shaming.” “I have been called a lot of rude names. There are still plenty of people out there who get up in arms about how people are portraying their bodies in public and what people are wearing, and really making judgments about that person without ever having spoken to them,” she explains.

JetBlue stands by their decision. “We support our crewmembers’ discretion to make these difficult decisions, and we decided to reimburse the customer for the cost of the new shorts and offered a credit for future flight as a good will gesture,” they said in a statement to PEOPLE.

But their response is not enough to make McMuffin – a previous repeat customer – want to book a flight again with them anytime soon. “If JetBlue issued me a proper apology, maybe I would,” she says. “They issued me $162 credit – less than $200. Which coming from a national company and considering what a flight costs, is actually not much in the grand scheme of what they could afford to give me.”

“It’s like a bad relationship,” she explains. “One bad thing could totally ruin it.”

As for whether she’s wear the shorts again? “Honestly, my trust in that outfit is a little shaken,” McMuffin jokes. “I may never fly in those shorts again. But I’m definitely flying in that tiger sweater again.”

This isn’t the first time an airline has gotten strict about their dress code. Back in September 2011, Southwest booted Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong off an airline because his pants sagged too low.