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United Airlines Forces Girls to Change Their Leggings

We all know that airlines have a dress code for employees but apparently they also have attire requirements for friends and family members who employees give reduced travel tickets to, known as “pass travelers.” Typically, this is not a widely spoken about topic. However, this past weekend, Twitter users expressed their opposition to United Airlines because a flight attendant refused to let two young female passengers in leggings on the plane.

According to The New York Times, the airline refused to let two (barely) teenaged girls onto the plane because they were wearing leggings and one girl was forced to put on a dress that she had in her carry-on.  Shannon Watts, an onlooker who was also boarding the flight, witnessed the girls’ family “frantically” trying to figure out a solution.  She noted that the girl who pulled on the dress over her leggings was only about 10 or 11 years old.

Watts noted, “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.” Figures.

United Airlines defended their policy on Twitter, which that states employees and people who they give travel passes to are expected to dress in proper attire. In a statement, they said: “When taking advantage of this benefit, all employees and pass riders are considered representatives of United… and like most companies, we have a dress code that we ask employees and pass riders to follow. The passengers this morning were United pass riders and not in compliance with our dress code for company benefit travel.”

So, people who receive reduced priced tickets from their employee family members are discriminated against for having discounted tickets.  People who purchase full price tickets are allowed to dress as they please, may it be leggings, sweat pants, or athletic wear. However, people who received discounted tickets are prohibited from wearing ripped jeans, leggings, and other clothing that airlines believe are not in “good taste.” Why are people being punished for having a friend or a family member that can do them a favor? The discount is not worth it if you are not allowed to be comfortable.  Not everyone can look like a damn supermodel or celeb while traveling....

Flights can range from two to twenty four hours depending on where you are traveling, not to mention layovers! There isn’t a person out there that wants to feel uncomfortable on a flight. Leggings are a staple that you can find in most women’s closets because they are so comfortable. Women are constantly held to higher, more sexist standards when it comes to “appropriate” dress and often times men are allowed to remain comfy and casual. Many, including celebs, quickly criticized United Airlines for this sexist policy, not to mention the sexualization of the tween girls.  Some even criticize the policy for being classist as those who ride for free are held to higher standards of fress than those paying. Hmmm...

As women, we should at least be allowed to dress down when traveling and getting aboard an airplane. It’s also obvious that we need more female airline CEO’s and spokespeople that understand comfort. Hopefully in the future we will have greater female representation, including among airlines, that adjust the dress code for employees and their friends or families when traveling.

I am a college student who loves to read, write, and meet new people.
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Deirdre Bardolf

Old Westbury

"With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?" Student, 22. Long Island
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