The Human League vocalist, Joanne Catherall, has been kicked out of the Qantas business lounge in Melbourne for wearing the wrong kind of boots.
The 55-year-old singer is on tour with the band in Australia, and was en route to Friday’s gig at the State Theatre in Sydney. She was flying there on Thursday morning from Melbourne, with status that entitled her to use the Australian airline’s frequent-flyer lounge.
But Ms Catherall was refused admission on the grounds that she was wearing Ugg boots. These sheepskin boots are popular in Australia and worldwide, but are on a list of banned footwear that also includes flip-flops (thongs).
The singer took to Twitter, where she wrote: “Denied access @Qantas business class lounge in @Melair Melbourne Airport apparently Ugg (Australia) Boots are deemed sleepwear by the lady working there although no problem in any of the other lounges so far.
“Helpfully she suggested I go to one of the shops & purchase some shoes.”
Qantas responded: “Hi Joanne, we endeavour to remain consistent and uphold our Lounge’s dress guidelines to all our guests.”
She then asked: “Why would an @UGG boot I wear outdoors in all weathers be classed as sleepwear in @Qantas lounge but nowhere else that I have ever been on this earth?”
Fans came to her support, with Michelle Teale tweeting: “Oh my goodness who would go bed in a pair of Ugg boots?”
StevieD tweeted: “Do they know its Christmas? And that the Human League are on tour?”
Ms Catherall later tweeted a picture of the priority lane at Melbourne airport, saying: “Hopefully I’m allowed down this lane in my Ugg Australia boots.”
In its “Domestic Lounge Dress Guidelines”, Qantas tells passengers: “Our lounges are a place where you can sit back and relax before your flight.
“To ensure an enjoyable experience when you’re visiting our domestic Qantas Clubs and Business Lounges in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, we ask that you follow our smart casual dress guidelines.
“Our team will decline entry if some items of clothing are too casual or inappropriate. This includes, but is not limited to: Thongs and bare feet; Head to toe gym wear; Beachwear (including board shorts); Sleepwear (including UGG Boots and slippers); Clothing featuring offensive images or slogans; Revealing, unclean or torn clothing.”
Had Ms Catherall been wearing clean high-visibility clothing, however, she would have been allowed in.
A Qantas spokesperson told The Independent: “We completely understand that no one likes being declined at the door but we’ve always had smart casual dress standards for our lounges, which are similar for those in place for most clubs and restaurants.
“Over the past couple of years we have had clear feedback from lounge members that they wanted these existing guidelines to be applied more rigorously.”