Social media erupted Sunday after two teenage girls were barred by a gate agent from boarding a United Airlines flight because they were wearing leggings.
The girls, whose ages were not specified, were not allowed onto the Sunday morning flight from Denver to Minneapolis because they were traveling under an employee travel pass that includes a dress code, United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said.
The dress code bars pass travelers from wearing spandex or Lycra pants such as leggings. The teenagers agreed to change their clothing and take a later flight, Guerin said, but the airline's actions sparked a quick backlash on Twitter. [[417165183, C]]
Activist Shannon Watts of Denver tweeted that she witnessed Sunday's events and questioned United's decision to police women's clothing.
Watts said the girl's father was allowed to board while wearing shorts and called the airline's policy sexist. [[417157123, C]]
Regularly ticketed passengers are not subject to the same dress code and can wear leggings, Guerin said. But the airline was standing by its policy for pass travelers because they are essentially representing the company, he said.
"We would ask the same of pass riders who were wearing flip-flops or who were wearing clothing that revealed their undergarments or torn, tattered jeans," Guerin said.
United Airlines echoed that sentiment once again Monday morning, releasing a statement that further explained the controversy while sending a message to its regular paying customers that their leggings were welcome.
“Let us take a moment to explain today's news,” the statement read. “We care about the way we present ourselves to you, our customers, as we believe that is part of the experience on board our flights. One of the benefits of working for an airline is that our employees are able to travel the world. Even better, they can extend this privilege to a select number of what we call "pass riders." These are relatives or friends who also receive the benefit of free or heavily discounted air travel – on our airline as well as on airlines around the world where we have mutual agreements in place for employees and pass riders." [[417169683, C]]
“When taking advantage of this benefit, all employees and pass riders are considered representatives of United,” the airline continued. “And like most companies, we have a dress code that we ask employees and pass riders to follow. The passengers this morning were United pass riders and not in compliance with our dress code for company benefit travel. We regularly remind our employees that when they place a family member or friend on a flight for free as a standby passenger, they need to follow our dress code ... To our regular customers, your leggings are welcome."