It all started when a gate agent stopped the passengers from boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis and deemed their clothing inappropriate. They were asked to either change or miss the plane, and while the two older teens didn’t have spare clothes handy, the 10-year-old passenger had a dress in her carry-on that she was able to pull on over her outfit. The story went viral after bystander Shannon Watts overheard the commostion and started tweeting about what had happened.
3) Gate agent for flt 215 at 7:55. Said she doesn't make the rules, just follows them. I guess @united not letting women wear athletic wear?— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 26, 2017
United defended the agent’s decision, pointing out that the girls were “pass travelers”—friends and family of United employees who are sometimes able to fly standby for free as long as they comply with company policies. One of those policies, apparently, is a dress code that prohibits the wearing of leggings. The airline spent a great deal of time on Twitter trying to explain the nuances of the situation to people, but it was to no avail. Friends of the company or not, the idea that a 10-year-old in stretch pants might somehow be too risque for public struck a nerve with a lot of celebrities.
Actor Patricia Arquette seemed to lead the charge:
@united Why aren't you allowing girls to wear leggings on flights? Who is your gate agent policing girls clothing?— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 26, 2017
Was there something's strange about all these girls leggings?— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 26, 2017
Do U understand U have just made at least half UR customers very unhappy?— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) March 26, 2017
Soon other public figures were sharing their thoughts as well:
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.— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 26, 2017
Lololol I'm never flying @united again. Not allowing a 10 year old child on your flight for wearing leggings? … what a joke.— SOPHOMORE(abigail breslin) (@yoabbaabba) March 26, 2017
Friendly Advice, United: No one is nearly as offended by a little girl in spandex as they are by this situation.— Nick Bolton (@NickBolton13) March 26, 2017
yeah. They are only trying to treat the teenage daughters of their employees like shit. Not everyone else.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) March 26, 2017
I applaud @united for making those girls change their leggings. Nothing on a plane offends me more than a comfortable woman.— Jim Norton (@JimNorton) March 27, 2017
.@united I have flown numerous times while displaying an egregious mooseknuckle. What's a male over 10 have to do to get noticed?— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) March 26, 2017
Whether the policy changes is yet to be seen, but in the meantime, it seems United has lost some high-profile clients.