United Airlines Faces Backlash Over Dress Code Controversy

Even United says so, belatedly, in a statement issued Monday.

The two teens banned from a United Airlines flight for wearing leggings officially have Chrissy Teigen in their corner, so, that’s a pretty solid silver lining. Instead, it justified the agent’s decision by referring people to Rule 21 of its contract of carriage, which says employees can remove passengers “who are barefoot or not properly clothed“.

On Twitter, people with experience said that it’s not just leggings – depending on the airline, all kinds of ordinary clothes can keep a buddy-pass user grounded. “This morning the attire of the pass travellers on this flight didn’t meet the dress code policy”.

That means no form-fitting lycra or spandex trousers, nor anything “excessively dirty” or “inappropriately revealing”.

But it hasn’t stopped a barrage of criticism from social media, including celebrities who have voiced their opinions. In a statement posted on United’s website this morning, the company explains it as such: “When taking advantage of this benefit, all employees and Pass riders are considered representatives of United”. He added that a regular paying passenger would not be denied boarding for wearing leggings or yoga trousers.

“To our regular customers, your leggings are welcome”, the airline said.

Other major airlines have similar guidelines on the books for general, first-class and non-revenue travelers.

Because, duh, leggings are perfectly appropriate attire, not to mention perfectly comfortable attire, in this era of air travel as cattle drive-turned-security nightmare. You may remember in 2013 when sports-clothing company Lululemon recalled many of its leggings because you could see right through the fabric. Also: No bare feet.

That includes form-fitting lycra or spandex tops, trousers and dresses, offensive or derogatory words or graphics on clothing, “excessively dirty” clothing that has holes or tears, or anything that is “inappropriately revealing”. It’s the rules within that dress code, and who, exactly, is monitored the most.

Others joined in as the original tweets quickly went viral, reaching out to United via Twitter to decry the policy.

Watts, who lives in Colorado, said “I don’t care what kind of passengers they were … this behavior is sexist and sexualizes young girls”.

“Our regular passengers are not going to be denied boarding because they are wearing leggings or yoga trousers”, Guerin said. “But, in the United States, leggings and yoga trousers are worn by many passengers”. The gate agent singled out three girls because their clothing was deemed inappropriate.

“The girl pulled a dress on”, Watts said.

“Shorts are allowed but not leggings?”

United Airlines 'Girls In Leggings#039 Pass Policy Common for All American Workers|Featured Image by Vittorio Zunino Celotto  Getty Images for Plein Sport