In what is quickly shaping up to be a PR nightmare, United Airlines turned two young women away from their gate at Denver International Airport Sunday for wearing leggings.
Shannon Watts, a passenger at the airport, live-tweeted the situation when she noticed the two teenage girls leaving the gate next to hers, visibly shaken. There was another girl, who she guessed to be around ten years old, who was forced to change into a dress from her luggage.
Watts overheard a gate agent telling their family, “I don’t make the rules. I just enforce them.”
United Airlines swiftly defended their decision via Twitter, responding that the teens weren’t normal passengers, but were flying on “company benefit travel,” so they had to adhere to special rules. The New York Times reported that the teenagers were told they could not board because they were “pass travelers,” or dependents of United employees who can travel on a standby basis.
“We want people to be comfortable when they travel as long as its neat and in good taste for that environment,” Jonathan Guerin, a spokesperson for the airline, explained.
Standby or not, United Airlines would do well to update their dated dress code rules to skirt unwanted attention like this in the future.