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In Defense of United Airlines During Its Leggings Controversy

Chicago's O'Hare Airport Hosts Air Industry's World Route Forum
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One woman’s tweets sent the whole country in a rage against United Airlines over the weekend, but is it warranted?

Yesterday, a woman named Shannon Watts was waiting to board a flight in the Denver airport and witnessed two girls being told they weren’t allowed to get on their flight wearing leggings. Shannon sent out a series of tweets based on what she saw and the Twitter-verse was outraged.

Shannon’s tweets were an accurate description of what she saw… but she was missing a key element of information, the girls were flying using United Airlines employee passes.

United got in on the Twitter convo and Shannon stood with her original anger toward the airline, you can read all the back and forth here, but that major detail missing in the original series of tweets, might change your initial opinion of the situation.

While I don’t know the story of the girls who were told to change out of their leggings yesterday, and there are no photos of what they were actually wearing (which is totally a good thing – they’re children!), I do know there are rules when you’re flying on a pass.

It’s a dress code. Most places of business have them, do you ever see Starbucks employees in flip flops and a dress? No, and that’s because they have a uniform while they are at work. While these girls and many of the passengers using the employee flight passes aren’t actually at work, they are representing the company and were told (or at least should have been told) that there is a dress code when using these passes, and that includes not wearing athletic wear, flip-flops, bathing suits and the like.

Is having a dress code when you’re in an airport or on an airplane fun? Nope, but it’s part of the deal.

The deal… which includes a major discount on your ticket price.

United has actually toned down the dress code in the last ten years, allowing jeans for pass riders, rather than dress pants and pantyhose.

There are also rules for men’s attire, not just women, which is important to point out because many people are calling out United for being sexist.

So while Shannon’s tweet observations were true, they weren’t really fair to the airline.

I am, however, surprised that the girls weren’t told about their outfits with enough time to change before their initial flight took off. There are times that a standby passenger won’t be given a ticket until minutes before departure, thus not having much time to change, but usually the gate agent would have a chance to see the standby passengers with enough time to ask them to change.

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Catch Midday Michelle on 97 ZOK from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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