Published on Monday, March 27, 2017
United Airlines defends dress code after online flak
United Airlines is taking heat on social media after two girls were banned from boarding a flight because they were wearing leggings.
United's attempt to defend its decision drew further criticism with A-list celebrities among those on social media urging the airline to change its 'sexist' dress code.
United stopped three girls who were about to board a flight at Denver International Airport bound for Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon because they were wearing leggings.
One girl, aged about 10, was allowed to board after changing into a skirt that her mother had in her bag, but two teens were left in tears and told they couldn't fly.
The children were 'pass riders', defined as 'United employees or eligible dependents' who fly as a 'company benefit'.
United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin said pass travelers are 'representing' the company and are not allowed to wear Lycra and spandex leggings, tattered or ripped jeans, midriff shirts, flip-flops or any article of clothing that shows their undergarments.
"It's not that we want our standby travelers to come in wearing a suit and tie or that sort of thing," he said.
"We want people to be comfortable when they travel as long as it's neat and in good taste for that environment."
The incident came to light when Shannon Watts, founder of gun safety group Moms Demand Action, tweeted that she had seen a '10-year-old girl in gray leggings' who 'looked normal and appropriate' being forced to change her clothing before boarding.
She said the airline's action was 'sexist and sexualizes young girls. Not to mention that the families were mortified and inconveninced'.
She added: "Their father, who was allowed to board with no issue, was wearing shorts."
Guerin told the Washington Post the girls 'were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel'.
He added: "Our regular passengers are not going to be denied boarding because they are wearing leggings or yoga pants.
"But when flying as a pass traveller, we require pass travelers to follow rules, and that is one of those rules."
Model Chrissy Teigen, actress Patricia Arquette, comedian Sarah Silverman and actor LeVar Burton all criticised the airline's actions on Twitter and said the dress code policy needed changing.
United said the teens 'made an adjustment' to their outfits and waited for the next flight to Minneapolis.