In this grainy photo, you can see what Harlem financial consultant Malinda Knowles was wearing just before she headed to LaGuardia Airport to catch a JetBlue flight to Florida last year. It seems Knowles's attire just wasn't modest enough for the pilot, who allegedly refused to fly the plane with her on board. She says it's because somebody thought she wasn't wearing anything under her baggy T-shirt, and after dragging her off the plane for a degrading underwear inspection, the pilot still wouldn't take off.
Knowles, a 27-year-old former fashion model, filed a lawsuit in Queens Supreme Court yesterday accusing the airline of assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trouble started not long after she sat down for the 6 a.m. flight; she tells the Post she was "sitting on the plane with my orange juice, minding my business" when a Jet Blue supervisor approached her and said, "I don't want to see your panties or anything but do you have any on?" Knowles tells the Daily News, "I didn't want to show him anything. He wanted me to basically show him my crotch. I was completely humiliated. It was vulgar. It was macho. It was rude."
The lawsuit alleges that the supervisor "slapped his walkie-talkie in between her legs" and smacked her thighs with the antenna. It gets weirder: Knowles says she was escorted off the flight and led to a hangar while the other passengers waited on the plane. In the hangar, the JetBlue fashion policeman made her lift up her shirt to prove that she was in fact wearing shorts. Then they let her back on the flight, but the pilot, one James Ewart, allegedly refused to take off with her on board. "He said, 'The captain is refusing to fly you today. We need to remove you from the flight,'" said Knowles, quoting the supervisor.
Knowles complied and waited four hours for another flight. "You should get a lawyer," a fellow passenger told her when she was ejected. Done and done—and as luck would have it she just so happened to take a picture of herself at the crack of dawn before leaving for the flight! So, let this be a dual-lesson to you: Photograph yourself before your flight and tuck your shirt in your pants.