Winnie Harlow criticized for half complaining about sleeping in coach


Model Winnie Harlow is in the the middle of Fashion Week season so she’s working pretty hard. And if jetting from city to city wasn’t enough work, she had to carve some time out to deal with a few of her followers after she sparked criticism on one of her Instagram posts. The kerfuffle started with this photo she posted on Wednesday:

The photo wasn’t the issue, per se, it was her caption. In it, Winnie gives a shout out to the “amazing airport escort” who was able to get her on the only flight available and how grateful she was to make her scheduled 6AM shoot. She also mentioned that she got bumped back to coach, which was unfortunate because sleeping in coach sucks (my words):

I haven’t slept in 4 days, and my flight got cancelled. The amazing airport escort got my team and I put on the fastest flight out but we had to give up our business class seats in order to land in time for a huge shoot at 6am. I realize this may not seem like a big deal to some, but when a plane is your bedroom and a flight the only time to get sleep during a hectic fashion month, it’s tiresome. Regardless I’m grateful, god works in mysterious ways and everything happens for a reason. It’s not everyday glamour, you have to do what you have to do to be successful in life 🙏🏽❤️ to reach your goals the grind never stops! (Ty @hbjbofficialfor being my pillow😴😁)

Whereas a few fans commented with some version of, “I feel you,” many others told Winnie to have a seat with her “first world problems.” Of course, the Daily Mail collected a smattering of nasty comments and posted them under a headline attacking Winnie for “bemoaning” having to sit in coach. Some folks accused her of wearing a high-end track suit for the purpose of differentiating herself from the coach class riders. *Insert eye-roll here* She is wearing her clothes. The fact that they are high-end makes perfect sense – given she’s a high-end fashion model. I can’t afford business and ride coach everywhere I go, and I have no problem saying that sleeping in coach sucks. Sometimes, the food, using the restroom and even reading a book in coach sucks. But if those few hours you are on the plane are the only sleep you get before you have to show up fresh-faced and ready to work, the sleeping part is really important. But that’s not even the point here. Winnie mentioned the sleeping part, but what she was really doing was acknowledging the airport staff and the fact that the flight she did take allowed her to honor her commitments, for which she was grateful. So Winnie went to IG again to reiterate her earlier point, which so many missed:

“Proud that making it to work is more important to me than how I got there. That is the message.” I like that she spelled this out, but I understood it in her first message. The whole reaction was overblown, people were looking for anything to criticize. In addition to trying to call out a successful model for wearing designer clothes, commenters accused Winnie of taking up the seat next to her just so she could put her feet up. Isn’t it pretty obvious this was a staged photo? I’m sure that seat belongs to the person in her team taking the photo. I don’t think some random passenger had to take the jump seat next to the flight attendant so Winnie’s pristine sneakers wouldn’t get scuffed. Because I’ll tell you what, if that shot is not staged and Winnie really looks that perfect sleeping – in coach – that’s what’s not fair. We should be complaining about that instead.




Photo credit: Instagram and WENN Photos

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61 Responses to “Winnie Harlow criticized for half complaining about sleeping in coach”

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  1. Kebbie says:

    I saw the photo and thought “oh my God she’s so lucky the seat next to her is empty! That never happens!” But you’re right, it’s probably her assistant’s seat or something.

    Economy is the worst. And my god when people start reclining into the six inches you have in front of you 🙄 If they insist on keeping the economy rows so narrow, they shouldn’t allow the seats to even recline. I flew basic economy this summer and I’m never doing it again. It’s so claustrophobic.

    • Gigi says:

      I complain to the person reclining the seat that I do not fit! I had someone get angry on a 45 min flight that I did not let him. I do not care. His comfort is not more important than mine.

      • Kath says:

        I have back issues and if I don’t recline I will be in pain for two days. So yes, I will, always, because I have a right to. The recline is so insignificant too…
        And if you recline as well you will see that you will gain back the room you had “lost” and in that way, everyone is more comfortable! It’s stupid to complain about this…

      • Em says:

        I’ll recline if the person behind me can recline too. If I’m sitting in the back and the person behind me can’t recline because there’s a wall behind them I won’t. It’s pretty selfish and self centered to not want someone to recline if you have the ability to recline as well… it’s not all about you..

      • GirlMonday says:

        @Gigi that right there is entitlement. When you buy a ticket in coach, you buy a tight, uncomfortable, but reclining seat. For you to decide it is your right to limit the ability of the person in front of you to use what they paid for because you don’t like it even though that is what you signed up for is you deciding your comfort is more important than theirs, which is entitlement. Like @Em said, it is a slightly different game when the person behind you can’t recline, but I have a feeling you weren’t sitting in the second to last row in this situation.

      • Elizabeth says:

        I don’t recline on a plane because it makes me nauseated to lie back on a moving vehicle. If your reclining forces me to recline, I’m liable to throw up on you, so I always end up with less space and the person behind me has more.

    • LadyMTL says:

      I’m flying to Asia soon on a non-stop flight that’s over 12 hours long, and I am already getting anxious about having to put up with the person in front of me reclining allll the way back (it always seems to happen to me, always.)
      I was lucky enough once to be on a flight to Amsterdam where I was upgraded to business class and OMG, the difference was astounding. So much leg room! No claustrophobia! I wish I could afford to fly business but alas, I’ll just have to cross my fingers and hope that I don’t end up with the back of the seat in front of me jammed up my nose. :P

      • Deanna says:

        I’ve never been on a long haul flight where people don’t recline. I agree that reclining for short flights is rude, but long? Eh.

      • Originaltessa says:

        Don’t let them. If they start to recline; push back. Bang, knee, use all of your strength to stop them. And if they complain? Simply ask them why they think their comfort supersedes yours. People who recline are rude, and the faster word gets out the sooner more people will get a clue.

      • 10KTurtle says:

        Wow. “People who recline are rude,” but kicking and banging and behaving like an angry toddler is not? Reclining in a reclining seat is allowed by every airline.

      • eve says:

        Most of my flights are long haul and yes,I recline, The reclining is there for a reason. The one behind can do the same or just be annoyed. I hate it when people in front of me put their hands above my screen or the ones behind me their feet between the seats, But reclining??? and yes when i fly with my 2 kids I book the window and the aisle and another isle and if it is fully book i ask the middle seat if he would like the aisle.

      • Jillybean says:

        If your going to complain and bitch about people reclining- stop flying coach and fly business class. Waaaaaaa!

      • Cindy says:


        Why do you think your comfort supersedes theirs?

      • sammiches says:

        “Don’t let them. If they start to recline; push back. Bang, knee, use all of your strength to stop them.” I just made it my life’s mission to forever be the person in front of you on airplanes so I can be sure to recline my seat :)

      • Selena says:

        NO need to kick and stuff. I have a trick for short haul recliners. I buy a magazine for just this purpose. You roll it up and jam it at an angle between the table and the chair back in front. The chair will not go back. I had a woman go completely mad at me for doing it once. I just looked at her, smiled, indicated my ear phones, and continued reading my Kindle. :)

      • Bellah says:

        Oh no, Originaltessa. That is not recommended. Unless you’re looking to start a fight.
        See this 2014 incident…

        I certainly would not react well if you sat behind me and did that when I reclined my seat. In fact, after the incident above United Airlines said publicly that passengers are not allowed to prevent fellow travelers from reclining their seats if they so choose. Airlines only restrict reclining during takeoff and landing otherwise…my seat, my right to recline.

        You can ask me politely if you’re very tall and need the space for example…but if you chock the seat you’re the one actually being rude.

        I hope we’ve help prevent you from feeling the wrath of a future reclining flight mate or getting tossed off a flight. Be safe.

      • M.A.F. says:

        Why do you think this is a decent way to respond? If you don’t want some to recline their seat then pay the extra cash and fly in business.

    • Jess says:

      I flew across country last month and my first flight wasn’t full, there were empty rows all around me and the stranger sitting right next to me, he said, “I hope you don’t get offended but I’m gonna ask if I can move to an empty seat”. I told him to go for it because I’m a terrible flyer and get antsy and I make people nervous! That flight was awesome because I had so much space, it will never happen again, lol.

    • kgeo says:

      I don’t understand this whole not reclining thing. I always recline, and expect that the people in front of me will recline. Those chairs do that for a reason. When upright, they’re at an unnatural angle and force your head forward. I’m pretty overly cautious about offending other people and their comfort, but I’d be pretty upset if someone complained to me about reclining, especially on a long flight.

    • Lucy2 says:

      I find it really hard to get out of my seat if the person in front of me is fully reclined. I can’t imagine if there were an emergency! I get annoyed by it, especially on a shorter flight, but the only time I’ve asked someone to not recline is during the meal service.

  2. janey says:

    I don’t do long haul so I always have to fly like this. I remember once when my son was 18 months, the woman in front had reclined her seat and then complained to me when I was rocking/bouncing my son to try to distract him from his ear pain. I’m normally a fairly easy going person but I’m afraid on that occasion she got both barrels.

    Of course the mail made it about which class she was flying, but dear god at least it wasn’t A PRIVATE PLANE!!!!

  3. Swack says:

    Glad she praised the airline/airport but she didn’t have to mention being bumped down to coach as that would have stopped some of the criticism.

    • Lee says:

      There’s nothing wrong with her mentioning that she was bumped down coach to when she paid for business and her flight was canceled. Her post was perfectly fine. Sleeping in coach does in fact suck. I’ve done it many times. She should not have to apologize for her success.

      • Swack says:

        She can mention it. I was just pointing out had she not maybe some of the criticism wouldn’t have been there. I would also assume that she was refunded the extra money that she paid for the business class seat.

      • Becks1 says:

        Yeah, that was my thought. she got criticized for complaining about coach because she…..complained about coach?

        Of course everyone complains about coach, because coach sucks, lol. but its silly to pretend she didn’t complain about it.

    • Dr. Mrs. The Monarch says:

      She would have gotten flack no matter how she wrote it. This is pure sexism. If an upper-class male (I’m picturing Piers Morgan) made the same post, the headline would be: “Humble Businessman Sacrifices Sleep and Comfort to get to Important Meetings”. The byline would be his own quote: “I put success first and foremost.”

      He would not have bothered to thank the airport staff. He would also not be criticized for what he wore.

    • Nicole r says:

      She mentioned it because she and her crew paid for business seats but in order to make the flight they had to take coach seats.

  4. Eliza says:

    If anyone thinks she’s actually sleeping floating above her hand with her eyes closed just-so, I got a bridge to sell you. Good price!

    On a more “serious” note (but not really), IG posts are all about the brag. She can say the point was to thank the staff, but it really was about how she always takes business, has a great outfit and makeup, a cute boyfriend to rest on, and is sooo busy this fashion season she cant get sleep while doing both shows and shoots. Most models would also agree with the sleeplessness but how many complain that for 1 night their “bed” was economy instead of business. She still would get the business lounge pre-flight and probably refunded for tickets. You do what you can to keep jobs.

  5. Lauren says:

    Wow, who hasn’t complained about not getting enough sleep on coach? I hate sleeping on planes, but sometimes you have to try or you are going to not be able to function when you land. I have definitely curled up like her on coach flights when I could, but it’s still horribly uncomfortable.

    • Lucy2 says:

      I agree, sleeping in economy is tough, and I don’t see anything wrong with what she said.

      For the last few longer flights I’ve had, I’ve upgraded to economy plus, which is basically like paying a little extra for how economy USED to be.

  6. Kittycat says:

    People were really looking for something to criticize.

  7. CROWHOOD says:

    I travel for work, generally 3 weeks a month. I live In a small city so i always have a connection which makes that minimally 12 separate flights a month. I’m a nobody, but because of the frequency I fly, I get business class upgrades quite frequently. There is no worse feeling than thinking you had a modicum of comfort coming only to wind up getting on to another flight with a center coach seat. There is dead ass nothing wrong with any of this except that i don’t own that outfit.

    • STRIPE says:

      Okay?! I think anyone who travels for work gets what she was trying to say (and what I do is nothing compared to her airtime) And the fact that she depends on that time in the air to sleep makes it worse. Is it first world problems? Of course. But come on. Who hasn’t taken to social media to complain (and she’s not even complaining!) about their first world BS?

  8. CharliePenn says:

    Maybe she’s easy to criticize because she displays a generally bratty attitude. All I’ve ever heard her do is complain, and she’s not even someone I go out of my way to keep up with.

  9. Lola says:

    Weird note but I remember when she was on America’s Next Top Model. She was SO MESSY. I’m sure she’s grown up since but WOW IT WAS BAD.

    • Starkiller says:

      She’s not American, wtf was she doing on America’s next top model? How bizarre.

      I’ve noticed that the daily fail really has an axe to grind with this girl for some reason…it’s really weird. I wonder why.

  10. Jess says:

    I don’t see this as complaining at all, she seems grateful for the work!

  11. Sarah says:

    Yet more manufactured indignation. As you point out, her first post was primarily to thank the employees. I’ve travelled for business and the whole point of paying the £££ extra for business class is that you (in theory) step off the plane ready to work. As she says, it’s your bed!

  12. DS9 says:

    She wasn’t really complaining though. It was an innocuous comment followed up with gratitude that she was was able to fly at all and make her time and thanks to the crew.

    Nothing about it struck me as with the faux outrage.

    God forbid someone with money make mention of an inconvenience or disappointment.

  13. Amelie says:

    I can’t sleep on planes. At all. I’ve given up trying and the plane neck pillows don’t help. Sometime around late adolescence I stopped being able to sleep so I pass the time watching in flight movies. On my last two flights to and from Europe I sprang for the seats with more leg room on American. It was minimally more comfortable but not by a lot. I get anxious when flying (not a fear of flying I just want the ordeal to be over with) and think next time I might try a sleeping aid. I am such a zombie when I get to my destination and basically can’t function until I take a nap. I would love to be able to afford business class. For those of you who can sleep in economy count yourselves lucky.

  14. TIFFANY says:

    I got back from a conference last week and there was a cap on my ticket for it. It was hell getting there but as I was printing my boarding pass I was given the option of a upgrade. Hell yeah I took it and my company paid for it ( I had some per diem money left over). That hour in 1st class was bliss and during my layover I was trying to hustle to do it again but they and business was all booked and all the people checked in. But it wasn’t too bad this time as there was a seat between me and the other passenger.

    So Winnie, I get it.

  15. Jessica says:

    Wow… they sure did a number twisting her words to make her look awful. Reading her post, what comes across to me is how grateful she is to the staff for getting her on a flight. She’s much mite diplomatic and pleasant that I might be, having not slept for 4 days.

  16. tealily says:

    I thought that if there was one thing we could agree upon in life, it would be that sleeping in coach sucks.

    • Annabel says:

      I know, right? Like, if there’s one issue where Red State and Blue State America might find common ground, surely it’s this.

  17. DT says:

    I fly a lot for work and the other day I had a 3.5 hour flight with a deadline on a project that needed to be completed by the time I landed. The person in front of me reclined all the way back the whole flight while the grown man behind me kicked my seat the entire time, and the lady next to me got up to use the restroom so often that the flight attendants ultimately offered one of us the option to move to a different aisle seat. Economy is just not great. And I don’t see what the issue is with her post at all.

  18. Arnk says:

    She didn’t say anything bad lmao. But all I really know about her is that she was awful on ANTM and that whole mess with Duckie.

  19. pantanlones en fuego says:

    She generally annoys me and I was prepared to be annoyed at this article but in reading further, she is justified in her complaints. Could she have kept it to herself? Sure. But she is of the generation that feels the need to share everything about her life. Of course the craptastic DM only puts the “we got bumped from business class” part in the headline.

  20. Emily says:

    “woah is me”…Ummm, it’s woe. WOE is me. Gurl bye, I can’t with this.

  21. BANANIE says:

    My comment isn’t going to the right place but for people complaining about reclining seats- the airline makes them so that they can recline. The opportunity is there if you want it. It is not at all rude to use a feature the plane is equipped with. If it wasn’t allowed or considered rude, it wouldn’t be an option.

    I was seated next to someone on a plane once and they tried to recline their seat, and the guy behind them (who must have been drunk) slammed the seat into them and shouted. Didn’t even ask if they could raise their seat. It was a totally disproportionate reaction and THAT was rude.

  22. ME says:

    Ha ha does God care you’re sitting in coach honey? Nope. I do like that she thanked the airline for helping her out though.

  23. Nancypants says:

    I’ve never been able to sleep on ‘planes except military cargo ‘planes EXCEPT ONCE.

    Only twice in my life have we been upgraded to first class and I fell asleep on my husband’s shoulder from Seattle to Denver.
    I woke up when we touched the ground.
    “We’re here already?”

    Let me warn you: once you go first class, you’ll never want to go back.
    The dinner was really good.
    Fresh salad, mushroom stuffed pasta with good sauce and cheese and hot cookies, free drinks and hot, damp towels to clean-up. It’s bliss.

    When we were upgraded, he waited until the ‘plane was boarding and then went to ask.
    They placed 3 of us at an additional charge but it wasn’t that much and if you are alone, it would be worth it. Just wait and ask at the last minute.

    As for reclining, I don’t really care.
    I’ll adjust.
    I do take the aisle seat if I can but last time back from CT, we got delayed and I had to sit in the middle next to this cranky old, rich-acting lady who bitched about everything and everyone.
    I asked once to be excused (almost 5 hour flight) and she huffed and puffed and threw her book down to let me out and back.
    She yelled at the man in front of her because he dropped his NOOK.
    I needed to go again but she fell asleep so I held it.
    Almost wet my pants.

    Flying sucks. It’s no fun at all but if you can get upgraded – $100. or less at the last minute – DO IT. The ease, the room, the special care and free drinks and food are worth it.

  24. amilou says:

    I unfollowed her a couple of years ago when she said something that I found really mean and off-putting. It wasn’t so mean that I can remember it now, but it was snotty enough that I was like, “Girl. BYE.”

  25. Veronica S says:

    Uh, she likely wasn’t refunded the cost of those business class seats either, so I’d be frustrated, too. I fly all the time for my job, and travel is both exhausting and miserable these days by design. Airlines are not comfortable, so I’m not sure why griping about something we all know sucks is a reason to criticize her.

  26. Kay says:

    All y’all saying people who recline are rude and you WON’T LET THEM are batshit insane. You better not that nonsense with me on a flight. The seats are designed to recline. My seat, I get to configure it how I want. If you “can’t fit” it’s not my problem, buy a bigger seat. Yes coach is cramped and sucks but it is what it is and taking it out on another passenger is actually crazy.

  27. SJR says:

    Hey Winnie, no one cares. Have you seen the current state of the world?
    Get over yourself, talk about First World Problems, Ugh!