Manama: The Saudi Arabian blogosphere went viral over a report that two Saudi men were barred from boarding a plane for wearing ‘sleeping gowns’.

The 22- and 24-year-old men were told by the Saudi Airlines employees that they could not claim their seats on the plane flying between Madinah and Tabuk unless they changed their clothing, local news site Sabq reported on Saturday.

Two men were forced to leave the queue, go to a secluded area, take out new sets of clothes from their bags and change into ‘acceptable’ attire, the report said.

A Saudi Airlines public relations officer said that the two passengers had to comply with the regulations.

“There are rules on what passengers cannot wear and they had to be respected,” Abdullah Al Ajhar told Sabq. “Short clothes, shorts and sleeping gowns for instance are not allowed. All employees are aware of the restrictions and they are well aware that any attire that is disturbing to other passengers cannot be allowed. Those who show up with the wrong clothes are given a chance to change into a more decent attire.”

The incident, on Thursday, sparked a heated debate on social networks, where reactions ranged from support to sharp criticism of the airline for “interfering in people’s lives”.

A similar incident occurred two weeks ago in Manchester, England after a Monarch Airlines supervisor reportedly told British passenger Alix Townsend, 18, that she could not fly with them to Majorca in Spain because she was wearing “short shorts”.

A spokesperson for Monarch said that “Miss Townsend was politely asked to change to comply with the airline’s dress policy.”

Last year, a woman flying from Las Vegas in the US said that she had been barred from flying “for showing too much cleavage”.

In another case, also in the US, a pilot lectured a passenger over her T-shirt and its four-letter expletive but allowed her to fly after she draped a shawl over it.