Don't get me started about dress codes.. The US airlines used to /probably still do have a dress code for staff travel (suit/jacket and tie/business attire, irrespective of class) to ensure that you remained inconspicuous. Yeah, right! When everyone else looked as if they'd come straight from the beach, although some did wear shoes, I'll admit.
Two stories: Mid-summer in LAX, all flights across the Pacific chockablock, just been bumped on Continental, scamper across to PanAm (having taken my tie off to avoid sweating to death). Check-in agent says " You're require dto wear a tie on PanAm services." Duly put my tie on. "Anyway, the flight's full" she said...
HNL and UA. I'm dressed as if I own the bloody airline, Mrs RM2 is wearing cotton slacks, a white silk t-shirt and a silk jacket. Probably cost more than a business class ticket.
"I'm sorry, you have to wear a blouse...." And these days, I'm sure I'm the only person on the plane un-tattooed, without facial scrap-iron and wearing real shoes. Oh, and with my shirt tucked in my pants....
RevMan2 reminded me of my many non-rev years. Indeed, you could easily indentify the non revs on board because they were the best dressed of the lot. In the past years, fed up with the hassles of travelling 30 years as non-rev, I have forked out to travel Business on long haul and boy do I enjoy the freedom of dressing casually (with shirt out). Comes at a price though
Same in the nineties - Greek island - individual ambling across to board. I called back and told the FA to refuse boarding unless he wore T-shirt minimum. In fact he donned one before arriving at aircraft. No idea what my company rules were re pax dress but mine were that no passenger should be expected to sit next to a sweaty oik stripped to the waist.
There is a line, and to most people it should be clear, between casual/scruffy and dirty/offensive. I was most impressed when on a long distance bus in Costa Rica a barechested sweaty man was told to either put on a shirt or leave the bus. An argument started, and two police came on and firmly but civilly removed him. Five minutes later he reappeared, shirted, and apologised to the passengers for the delay he'd caused. Very civilised.
I wish BA had done the same with the person that sat next to me once on a short haul European flight. He stank, clearly hadn't washed (or shaved) for a week, and had a few kilos of scrap metal hanging out of his face and the large part of his stomach that was visible. His toenails, sticking out of open sandals, were encrusted with filth, as were his fingernails. Oh ... and this was Club Europe .... which was full. I went and sat in the back to get away from him. Apology from the cabin crew .... you must be joking. In my view they shouldn't have let him board.
Can CC refuse boarding on such grounds, provided the person is 'decent'? There could be some awkward legal problems.
For me, it's no tie, white shirt, and trousers without a belt but tight enough to stay up. Sandals with socks. I got dubious about wearing a suit after the time on the way to the meeting, sudden turbulence got a yukky sauce over the suit........No chance to get the suit cleaned overnight and I had to go to the meeting somewhat casually dressed.
Unpleasant he was not, other than in appearance and aroma.
You know better than I do on what grounds the CC may have refused him boarding. I would have thought - and I may be wrong - that somewhere buried in Ts & Cs for most transporters, along with the blurb about being drunk and behaving aggressively and likely to endanger others, is a clause about 'if your state of dress or personal hygiene is likely to offend other passengers of crew we have the right to refuse carriage'
There are airlines who mandate this :
For example :
We may also refuse to carry you or your Baggage if one or more of the following have occurred or we reasonably believe may occur:
8.1.2. the carriage of you or your Baggage may endanger or affect the safety, health and materially affect the comfort of other passengers or crew;
(vii) Persons who have an offensive odor, unless caused by a disability.
if carrying you or your Baggage may materially affect the comfort of any person in the aircraft
Well, I try to shower before taking a plane; it may be the night before if departure is early... just one of the measures to be non-objectionable to the fellow sardines in cattle class. I don't dress fancy; but long trousers (jeans) and a button down shirt are the minimum. I usually have a sweat shirt at hand to accommodate for low aircraft or airport temperatures.
And honestly I do think that behaviour can be more irritating than dress code. Drunks begging for ethanol... people that show aggressive behaviour.... I rather see them left at the departure airport than holiday-goers dressed in t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.
Your point is well made, but the devil, as always, lies in the implementation. In the example that you mentioned, the scrap-metal, tummy and toenails would not, in themselves, constitute grounds for denying carriage. That leaves the smelly bit as being the best course.
Not having been there, I can't assess the passenger, or situation as accurately as you who were unfortunate enough to be seated adjacent. I have had two incidents involving customers with body odour and they are exceptionally difficult to handle. Such incidents are a veritable minefield, and putting a foot wrong can result in disgruntled passengers (as in your case) at best, or a lawsuit at worst.
Many years ago - long before the current security malarkey, I did sit transatlantic in business class next to a guy who was all sweaty, dirty and in filthy overalls, for which he apologised. Two thirds of the way through his shift on a North sea oil rig, there was a message that his young son in the US had been seriously injured in an accident. Helicoptered to Aberdeen with no time to change, the London flight held while he dashed across and he just made the BA flight from Heathrow T3 (that's how long ago it was) to the US by the skin of his teeth - he was the last PAX.
Under the circumstances, no one could justifiably complain......The company must have pulled some stops out to fix the tickets in that short a time, though. But in those days, things could be done.....
yeah - some American oil companies are very paternalistic but when the brown stuff hits the fan they pull out all the stops - and an oil company has a lot of heft if they care to exert themselves...........................