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.”
2) 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?
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
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.
The passengers this morning were United pass riders who were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel.
— United Airlines (@united) March 26, 2017
“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.
Friendly Advice, United: No one is nearly as offended by a little girl in spandex as they are by this situation.
— Nick Bolton (@NickBolton13) March 26, 2017
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.
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 26, 2017
Standby or not, United Airlines would do well to update their dated dress code rules to skirt unwanted attention like this in the future.