United Airlines is facing backlash on social media after a witness claimed she saw a gate agent block two young girls from boarding their flight because they were wearing leggings.
“A @united gate agent isn’t letting girls in leggings get on flight from Denver to Minneapolis because spandex is not allowed?” Shannon Watts, founder of the gun control movement Moms Demand Action, wrote on Twitter on Sunday, March 26. “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? Gate agent for [flight] 215 at 7:55. Said she doesn’t make the rules, just follows them. I guess @united not letting women wear athletic wear?”
Soon after, Watts said the two girls were allowed to board the plane after changing their clothing. United responded on Twitter, writing, “In our Contract of Carriage, Rule 21, we do have the right to refuse transport for passengers who are barefoot or not properly clothed.” United included a link to its Contract of Carriage, though the document does not define what the airline considers “properly clothed.”
“A 10-year-old girl in gray leggings. She looked normal and appropriate,” Watts continued, adding, when asked about their race, that the girls were “Caucasian.”
Later on Sunday, United replied to Watts again, writing, “We appreciate you being our eyes and ears. The customers this morning were United pass travelers. There is a dress code for pass travelers as they are representing UA when they fly.” (Pass travelers are company employees and their family members who fly for free or at discounted rates.)
United shared a similar statement to Us Weekly, saying, “The passengers this morning were United pass riders who were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel.”
Watts’ tweets caused outrage on Twitter. “It should be a uniform policy. A gate agent shouldn’t get to police what PAYING CUSTOMERS get to wear. I’m not flying United anymore,” one user wrote. Another added, “Never seen someone stopped from getting on plane bc of this. Fly every other week for work.”
Several celebrities also weighed in. Patricia Arquette tweeted, “Why aren’t you allowing girls to wear leggings on flights? Who is your gate agent policing girls clothing? Was there something’s strange about all these girls leggings? Do U understand U have just made at least half UR customers very unhappy? Leggings are business attire for 10 year olds. Their business is being children.” Chrissy Teigen added, “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.”