United Airlines bars teenage girls in
leggings from flight
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[March 27, 2017]
By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) - Two teenage girls wearing
leggings were barred from boarding a United Airlines flight on Sunday
because they did not meet a dress code for special pass travelers, a
company spokesman said amid a furor on social media.
The two girls, who were traveling with a companion, would not have been
turned away for wearing leggings had they been paying customers, United
spokesman Jonathan Guerin said as the airline responded to the backlash.
"(The two girls) were instructed that they couldn't board until they
corrected their outfit. They were fine with it and completely
understood," Guerin said, adding that all three passengers missed the
flight. He did not know if they had boarded a later plane or made
alternate travel arrangements.
Though the three passengers did not complain about their treatment,
another traveler, Shannon Watts, who overheard the discussion touched
off a firestorm on social media with a series of tweets describing a
policy she suggested was unfairly targeting women and girls.
"This behavior is sexist and sexualizes young girls," Watts said on
Twitter. "Not to mention that the families were mortified and
United pass travelers are typically company employees or their friends
or family members.
Watts' tweets and United's defense of it touched a raw nerve for many
women and girls who have made leggings a staple in their wardrobes.
The popularity of leggings has sparked criticism that they are
inappropriate attire under certain circumstances. Some schools have
barred girls from wearing them to class.
Social media lit up with outrage against the policy and the airline for
its response to the initial outcry. Celebrities chimed in with humorous
"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 top," model Chrissy Teigen
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A United Airlines Boeing 787 taxis as a United Airlines Boeing 767
lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco,
California, U.S. on February 7, 2015. REUTERS/Louis Nastro/File
United later put out a statement titled: "To our customers ... Your
leggings are welcome!" that explained the policy for passholders in
That policy also bars midriff-baring tops, attire that reveals
undergarments or is designated as sleepwear or swimwear,
mini-skirts, shorts that fall less than 3 inches above the knee or
dirty or torn clothing.
Guerin conceded that the airline, in its initial response to the
flap, could have done a better job of explaining the situation and
countering apparently inaccurate information about the incident that
appeared on Twitter.
"We'll definitely take something away from today, but we'll continue
to engage with our customers (on social media)," he said.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Edited by Mary Milliken)
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