A United Airlines gate agent, on 26 March, stopped two teenage girls from boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis because they wore leggings.
An eyewitness standing at the gate, promptly tweeted out saying, "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?”
1) A @united gate agent isn't letting girls in leggings get on flight from Denver to Minneapolis because spandex is not allowed?— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
However, another girl who also wore leggings was allowed to board as she changed her clothes after the agent barred her from boarding the flight.
Responding quickly to the concern raised, United tweeted, “United shall have the right to refuse passengers who are not properly clothed via our Contract of Carriage.” And added, “This is left to the discretion of the agents.”
The airline’s passenger contract says for the safety of all passengers and crew members, the airline can refuse to let a passenger board if the passenger is “barefoot or not properly clothed.”
Reacting to the reply, a Washinghton Post data researcher tweeted:
Defending the airline's action, United Airlines spokesperson, Jonathan Guerin, said, that the teenage girls, were traveling using a United employee pass which holds them responsible as they “were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel.”
Guerin further added that an internal policy for employees using the airline travel benefit, specifically does not allow leggings while traveling.
“Our regular passengers are not going to be denied boarding because they are wearing leggings or yoga pants,” Guerin said.
“But when flying as a pass traveler, we require this pass travelers to follow rules, and that is one of those rules."
“They were not compliant with the dress policy with the benefit,” Guerin said, noting that the girls were aware of the internal rule.
“This morning, the attire of the pass travelers on this flight didn’t meet the dress code policy.”
While this incident brings in light the loopholes in the guidelines for proper travelling and as some say the girls were victim of sexism behaviour, social media exploded as people were left flabbergasted with this incident.
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
@united Do U understand U have just made at least half UR customers very unhappy?— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 26, 2017
@armillspaugh Hi Andrew, as you aren't a pass traveler, your attire doesn't need to meet the United pass travel clothing requirements. ^AH— United (@united) March 26, 2017
Commenting on the wave of tweets targetted at the airlines, Guerin said the company was aware of the criticism and they were “working as hard as they can.”
“We could have stopped to immediately ask the right questions,” he said.
“We are always engaging with our customers as quickly as possible. Now we are going back. All day we’ve been going back since that earlier tweet. Now we’re going back and telling people what is actually going on," The New York Times quoted Guerin as saying.