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is the United Airlines dress code acceptable?

Madison Case '19, Features Editor

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On March 26th, United Airlines barred two teenage girls from boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis for one reason—they were wearing leggings. Shannon Watts, a passenger who witnessed the altercation, immediately reported what she observed via Twitter, directly confronting the airline and questioning their vague dress code.

“A @united gate agent isn’t letting girls in leggings get on flight from Denver to Minneapolis because spandex is not allowed?” tweeted Shannon Watts. In another tweet, she said, “She’s [the gate agent] forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can’t board. Since when does @united police women’s clothing?”

United responded, stating that the two teenagers were United pass travellers, meaning that the gate agent had the full right to deny them. Because they were using complimentary passes that are given as perks to the employee’s and their families, they had to abide by the company’s dress code.

“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 said via Twitter. “There is a dress code for pass travelers as they are representing UA when they fly.”

Nonetheless, the company received backlash from thousands online; their mentions across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram went from their average 2,000 mentions to nearly 174,000 mentions, according to Kellan Terry, a spokesman for Brandwatch.

Many are outraged by United’s “buddy pass” dress code, stating that it should not be gendered and sexist. Although this dress code is only enforced on those who are taking advantage of the company’s employee benefit, numerous people are boycotting the company due to the way they handled the situation and due to the dress code itself.

Nannette Stevens, a United Airlines flight attendant, said, “A pass rider must go by certain rules that are predeteminded and communicated to the pass rider as a “term of agreement for carriage” on a free ticket. It is a privilege and not a right. If they want to wear what they want then they are welcome to buy a ticket like everyone else.”

The question on whether or not leggings are appropriate airplane attire has been circulating the Internet over the past few days. While some believe that they are unsuitable and inapt, many are supporting leggings, stating that they are simply comfortable pants that should not have controversy surrounding it.

“I think that leggings are completely acceptable, and that women and girls should be able to wear what they find comfortable, especially on a plane,” says Noelle Hoffman, a sophomore at Bernards. “In this day and age, wearing leggings outside of a gym or yoga setting is universally accepted. Leggings are worn with a variety of different tops, ranging from casual to formal. There shouldn’t be an issue regarding a piece of clothing.”

Despite the dissension, women and girls should have the right to wear garments they find comfortable when in a plane. United Airlines was policing the attire of two teenage girls, which is unacceptable.

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is the United Airlines dress code acceptable?