The fashion police strike again

IT seems the fashion police have struck again. Specifically, this time, it’s the fashion police hiding behind the ‘dress code guidelines’ at the Qantas Club.

Now, I’ve never had the pleasure of stepping inside a Qantas Club lounge, which is basically a fancy place for business class and frequent flyers to rest before a flight.

But I’m aware of them. And it doesn’t take a genius to understand that they may have a strict smart casual dress code – fair enough. You want your patrons to reflect your brand, after all.


A person wearing thongs and a baseball cap, for example, may be denied entry. As would someone wearing one of those scraps of fabric that passes for a gym singlet (what is the deal with those anyway? Nipple tassels would be more modest).

But Qantas has been getting into hot water over their dress code and some inconsistencies when it comes to who they admit into their lounge.

In April, Qantas Club’s dress code made waves when a pregnant woman was denied entry to the lounge in Perth.

Her crime? Wearing Birkenstocks.

For those unacquainted with Birkenstocks, they’re a sort of cross between a designer sandal and a pair of thongs. They’re not exactly daggy; plenty of celebrities have been snapped wearing the German brand.

According to the Qantas website, the employees at the lounge will decide whether your clothes are too casual. And on this particular day, the employee on the front desk didn’t like the fact that Birks don’t have an ankle strap – one of Qantas’s loose barometers of smart casual – so access was denied. Harsh.

More recently, Qantas denied entry to professional netball player Caitlin Bassett for wearing leggings and joggers.

When you consider that high-vis work gear, shorts and sweatshirts can be comfortably worn in the lounge, you have to wonder where the obviously very grey area ends?

What exactly constitutes smart casual for Qantas? And how are you supposed to dress when it seems there are no steadfast rules?

It’s not a problem I’m likely to contend with any time soon – I’m more likely to book a Jetstar journey than a deluxe business class flight on the giant red kangaroo.

But I can’t help but think that perhaps a new aspect of the Qantas Club should be a complimentary loaner suit jacket or shoes on arrival, to ensure everyone is properly dressed.

Or, you know, just make the rules clear from the beginning. Because it might not align with their brand values to have someone sporting open sandals in their club lounge – but surely the media attention surrounding the situation does far more damage.

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