United Airlines has been thrust into the center of a social media firestorm after a gate agent stopped two teenage girls from boarding a flight because they were wearing leggings. A child, also dressed in leggings, was required to change at the gate.
The incident occurred at the Denver International Airport, where the teenagers were about to board a flight to Minneapolis, according to the New York Times. Passenger Sharon Watts, who was waiting for her flight to Mexico, noticed the girls looking distressed. When she approached the neighboring gate, she saw a “frantic” family pulling a dress onto their young daughter. The mother told Watts that the teenagers had just been denied access to the flight because the gate agent said their attire was inappropriate. Her own daughter was required to change into a second outfit, which the family had packed in their carry on, before she was permitted to board.
Watts fired off several tweets about the situation before her flight, and by the time she landed in Mexico, they had been shared thousands of times.
2) She's forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can't board. Since when does @united police women's clothing?
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
Responding on Twitter, United explained that the passengers were subjected to an atypically stringent dress code because they were “pass travelers” — United employees or dependents who are allowed to travel free on a standby basis. Jonathan Guerin, a spokesman for the airline, told the Times that because pass travelers are “representing” the company, they are not permitted to wear Lycra and Spandex leggings, distressed jeans, crop tops, or items of clothing that reveal their undergarments.
But that did little to quell the fires on social media. United was subjected to a barrage of tweets, which accused the airline of policing women’s dress. Even celebrities like Chrissy Teigen and Patricia Arquette joined the angry chorus.
I have flown united before with literally no pants on. Just a top as a dress. Next time I will wear only jeans and a scarf.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 26, 2017
Do U understand U have just made at least half UR customers very unhappy?
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 26, 2017
By Monday afternoon, one of United’s chief competitors seized on the controversy and used it as a chance to remind air travelers that they welcome leggings on flights.
Flying Delta means comfort. (That means you can wear your leggings. ????)
— Delta (@Delta) March 27, 2017
Read the full story at The New York Times.