United Airlines is sticking to their buddy pass policies after two young girls traveling with them were asked to change out of leggings, an attire deemed “inappropriate” by the airline.
The conundrum began on Sunday (March 26), when passenger Shannon Watts narrated the incident from the Denver International Airport on social media. While Watts was boarding her flight to Mexico, she noticed two upset young girls who were turned away from the gate traveling to Minneapolis.
Watts said the girls–one of them as young as 10-years-old–were forced to change out of their leggings because the United Airlines employee stated their attire wasn’t appropriate for traveling. The parents appeared “frantic” as they went back and forth with the staff.
A 10-year-old girl in gray leggings. She looked normal and appropriate. Apparently @united is policing the clothing of women and girls. https://t.co/RKsIFoE8pq
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
After the mother put a dress on her youngest daughter, the family was allowed to board the flight. “The girl pulled a dress on,” Watts said. “But please keep in mind that the dad had on shorts that did not hit his knee — they stopped maybe two or three inches above his knee — and there was no issue with that.”
While it may have looked like the airline’s rules applied to all customers, the company quickly released a statement to say the family was traveling under the buddy passes used by employees and their dependents. Those who use the passes invoke the “Contract of Carriage, Rule 2” which requires travelers to dress appropriately while representing the company.
“It’s not that we want our standby travelers to come in wearing a suit and tie or that sort of thing,” Jonathan Guerin, a spokesman for United, told the New York Times. “We want people to be comfortable when they travel as long as it’s neat and in good taste for that environment.”
Travelers are considered stand-by customers if they have to wait until every paying customer has boarded before they’re given a seat. Their behavior is also held in high regard. If a stand-by customer flying under the “pass traveler” tickets is unruly, this can mean big trouble for the employee.
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
Regardless of who the rule was enforced on, the public made it clear that policing the clothing of children was a bit extreme. Celebrities like LeVar Burton and Chrissy Teigen took to Twitter to slam the airline for its rules while others believed otherwise.
Duly noted, @united… Still, the punitive measures taken are not a good look! pic.twitter.com/1rBW9eSLBb
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) March 26, 2017
Watts, who is also the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, says the outrage behind the incident is more upsetting because it has overshadowed more important happenings in the country. “But more than anything, even more outrageous than leggings discrimination and lousy corporate policy, is the fact that there was a shooting in Cincinnati and a shooting in Las Vegas this weekend and so many more shootings this week and weekend in which people were killed and injured,” she wrote via Medium.
“Not to mention, a serious issue with missing black women and girls in our nation’s capital. But here we are talking about leggings.”
Read the rest of her piece here.