Johannesburg: A family was taken by surprise when their 10-year-old son was informed by airport security officers that the t-shirt he was wearing, which bore the image of a green snake, would not be allowed on the plane.

The incident occurred at the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.

10-year-old Stevie Lucas was on a family trip to visit his grandparents on the Western Cape of South Africa when security officers at the airport told his mother Marga, that snake toys or t-shirts were not allowed on the flight.

They reasoned that seeing the reptile could trigger anxiety in other passengers or crew members. With no other option, Lucas then turned his shirt inside out, put it back on and proceeded to board the plane. The airport security footage also shows Stevie taking off his shirt and turning it inside out.

The news went viral after a page called Aviation Fail shared the picture on Twitter with the caption, “A Boy, 10, is forced to take his shirt off before boarding a flight from #NewZealand to #SouthAfrica because it had a picture of a reptile on it.”

Faced with criticism, airport officers, later justified the move and said the have every right to determine if an object is harmful to fellow passengers and crew members.

Meanwhile, the family has written to the Airport Company of South Africa, seeking a clarification about the clothing rules and restrictions.