Numerous people have been banned from flying for erratic or dangerous behavior, or because they were caught bringing contraband items—such as weapons—for the journey. But recently, three girls were barred from boarding a United Airlines flight. The reason? They were wearing leggings.
Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts began live tweeting Sunday morning about an event she witnessed before a United Airlines flight. Watts said that the airline’s gate agent refused to let two teen girls get on a flight from Denver to Minneapolis “because spandex is not allowed.”
Watts also tweeted that the gate agent was forcing the girls to change or put dresses on over their leggings or they can’t board. The activist later added that the teens’ father, who was wearing shorts, was allowed to board the plane.
After Watts’ tweets went viral, United Airlines’ Twitter page was instantly inundated with comments and questions from angry social media users.
Actress Patricia Arquette asked the airline, “Why aren’t you allowing girls to wear leggings on flights? Who is your gate agent policing girls clothing?”
United Airlines responded to Arquette’s tweet, saying that the attire of the pass traveler “did not meet our rules.”
Model Chrissy Teigen also weighed in on the controversy, tweeting, “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.”
In a statement to the New York Times, Jonathan Guerin, a spokesman for United Airlines, confirmed that the teenage girls were told that they could not board the flight to Minneapolis because their leggings violated the company’s dress code for “pass travelers.” This is a company benefit that allows United employees and their dependents to travel for free on a standby basis.
Guerin said that because pass travelers are representing the company, they are not allowed to wear midriff shirts, tattered or ripped jeans, flip flops, or Lycra and spandex leggings. Though this is the company’s dress code for their standby travelers, the spokesman said that they did not want them to “come in wearing a suit and tie or that sort of thing” for flights.
“We want people to be comfortable when they travel as long as it’s neat and in good taste for the environment,” Guerin added.
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