United Airlines uses archaic dress code to prevent girls from boarding flight

By Breanne Williams, COLUMNIST
On March 26, 2017

United Airlines refused to allow two girls wearing leggings to board a flight due to their attire being “inapropriate.” SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Apparently girls wearing leggings is so inappropriate it warrants them being removed from a plane, according to United Airlines.

An agent at the Denver National Airport barred two young women on Sunday from boarding a United Airlines flight. Another passenger, who was also in leggings, put a dress on over her outfit and was permitted on while the other two were turned away.

The airline defended this utterly inexcusable behavior by claiming it was simply forbidding those in inappropriate clothing from boarding the flight.

Shannon Watts, the founder of the Moms Demand Action campaign, was sitting outside the gate when she saw the commotion, and immediately began tweeting the airline for clarification on the issue. 

“She’s forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can’t board,” Watts tweeted. “Since when does @united police women’s clothing?”

United Airlines replied, explaining the airline had the right to bar passengers if they were shoeless or wearing improper garb via its Contract of Carriage.

The discretion of what is appropriate and what is immoral is left up to the agent at the gates. This heavily biased agent should be reprimanded, not defended. 

“I have five kids: four of them are women,” said Watts in an email to the New York Times. “They wear yoga pants all of the time when flying. I think this policy is arbitrary and sexist. It singles out women for their clothing and sexualizes little girls.”

The airline also stated causal clothing is fine for normal passengers; however, the girls in question were United pass travelers, which is reserved for company employees and family members of employees. 

Technically,  the girls represented the airline, and thus were held to a higher standard than normal ticketed customers. 

But even if they were wearing United Airline jackets and waving flags with its logo on it, they should have been allowed on in leggings.

Athletic wear is comfortable and if the sight of a young girl in leggings makes you uncomfortable, the issue is entirely with you, not with that poor kid. 

The tweets immediately gained traction on social media as people across the world began admonishing the airline for its idiotic policies, which humorously, many began to state are being enforced randomly. 

Several women began tweeting they had frequently worn leggings on United flights and had never had an issue, while others focused on the outrageousness of the children being turned away. 

Pictures of young women in prairie girl dresses and nun’s habits and robes began circulating the internet tagged as United’s new passenger requirements. 

And the utter ridiculousness of the issue has caused many to laugh, while also vowing to take their business elsewhere. United’s defense of its archaic dress code is costing it passengers. 

When companies perform nonsensical actions, the best way to ensure they apologize and change their stance is to hit them the only place it hurts, their pocketbooks. When people stop supporting their companies, those companies will be forced to concede, or else they will go out of business. 

United Airlines has no right to police women’s clothing. Those girls did not walk on in lingerie, their legs were completely covered in comfortable leggings. 

To cherry pick when a policy is enforced is outrageous, and the vague wording of the Contract of Carriage means an agent could essentially bar anyone they wished from boarding by simply saying their outfit was “improper.”

United needs to offer a formal apology, not defend the misogynistic actions of its employee, or there will soon be economic repercussions when its sensible customers begin to take their business to Southwest or American Airlines. 

 

Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications. 

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