United Airlines has refused to allow two girls to fly because of their choice of clothing. Reports are circulating that the two girls, who were boarding a United flight from Denver to Minneapolis on Sunday, were turned away at the gate because they were wearing leggings.
The Washington Post reports that the move has taken many by surprise, particularly others in the Denver International Airport terminal when news regarding the incident began to spread.
An eyewitness at the scene, Shannon Watts, took to Twitter with her take on the situation.
“A United gate agent isn’t letting girls in leggings get on flight from Denver to Minneapolis because spandex is not allowed? 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?”
Responding to this and multiple other Twitter posts about the incident, United referred passengers to a line in their code of conduct.
“United shall have the right to refuse passengers who are not properly clothed via our Contract of Carriage. This is left to the discretion of the agents.”
This stipulates that for the safety of other passengers and crew, the airline can refuse to let a passenger board if they are “barefoot or not properly clothed.” The policy relies heavily on the discretion of gate agents and has come under fire from many on social media.
Airline spokesperson Jonathan Guerin confirmed that while the two women were not allowed on the flight, he also added that they were flying on an “employee pass” and “were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel.”
Guerin continued to specify that an internal policy governing employee travel forbids the wearing of leggings while traveling while confirming that paying passengers would not be denied boarding for wearing leggings or yoga pants.
“Our regular passengers are not going to be denied boarding because they are wearing leggings or yoga pants. But when flying as a pass traveler, we require this pass traveler to follow rules, and that is one of those rules. They were not compliant with the dress policy with the benefit. This morning, the attire of the pass travelers on this flight didn’t meet the dress code policy.”
Some airline insiders familiar with the travel pass have advised that it is widely recognized that those traveling using the benefit had to dress to a higher standard than the average paying passenger.
Social media has lit up with many believing United had imposed an outright ban on the wearing of leggings on their flights, calling the incident “outrageous, horrendous and nonsense”
Shannon Watts, who was traveling from Denver to Mexico, explained the shockwaves of panic that rippled through the terminal when news started to spread of the incident.
“A girl who was wearing grey leggings, not too tight, pulled a dress from her backpack and put it over her leggings and was allowed to board. But two other girls were turned away because they didn’t have any other clothing, I have five kids: four of them are women. They wear yoga pants all of the time when flying. I think this policy is arbitrary and sexist. It singles out women for their clothing and sexualizes little girls.”
From aboard her flight to Mexico, Watts explained she had overheard the gate agent telling the girls “I don’t make the rules; I just enforce them.”
Long recognized as the dog among its competitors and recently gaining the dubious distinction of the worst performing non-discount North American airline, is it unclear what impact this latest development will have on the trickle of customers still loyal to the airline.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]