The REAL Issue With The United Airlines Leggings Debacle

in Fail/Racy/WTF by

Before we begin, I’m going to shout this really loud for those in the back: THE WOMEN TRAVELING WERE NOT REGULAR TRAVELERS!

Here is what happened: a woman began tweeting out the fact that United Airlines wasn’t allowing two young women to board because of the fact that they had leggings.

Cue every single news outlet as they rear back in outrage.

Now, here is what actually happened: the young women traveling were “pass travelers,” meaning that someone they knew, or are related to, works for United Airlines. This gave them access to space-available seats that were free of charge for them to use.

Sounds like an awesome perk, right?

However, the one-ruled dress code that applies to paying flyers does not extend to them. Instead, they fall under the category of “non-revenue fliers,” which houses a very different dress code. The reasoning behind this is that they are extensions of the United Airlines brand because they know, or are related to, someone who works with the airlines.

It’s the equivalent of your mother scolding you in church because you are a physical manifestation of how she parents you and if you embarrass her than she can take you out of this world just as easily as she brought you into it.

And it makes sense. These girls are not paying for this flight, nor are their respective parental figures, so it stands to reason that there would be some downside.

The leggings debacle is not the issue, and it’s sad that the focus is on that moot point, because there are two very glaring issues.

One is the fact that this information is not easily accessible on the United Airlines website. Oh, sure, it’s easy to book a flight or find extra baggage pricing, but even if you search the term “pass traveler,” you pull up over 200 separate web pages, and close to none of them address this dress code in regards to non-revenue travelers.

The second issue? The blatant sexist angle this dress code takes.

Straight from a website that is, surprise, not United Airlines:

 The following attire is unacceptable in any cabin but is not limited to:

  • Any attire that reveals a midriff.
  • Attire that reveals any type of undergarments.
  • Attire that is designated as sleepwear, underwear, or swim attire.
  • Mini Skirts
  • Shorts that do not meet 3 inches above the knee when in a standing position.
  • Form-fitting lycra/spandex tops, pants and dresses.
  • Attire that has offensive and/or derogatory terminology or graphics.
  • Attire that is excessively dirty or has holes/tears.
  • Any attire that is provocative, inappropriately revealing, or see-through clothing.
  • Bare feet
  • Beach-type, rubber flip-flops


Of the eleven bullet points, six of them are geared specifically towards women, and it leaves room for customer service interpretation.

The issue here isn’t the fact that a dress code exists, or the fact that these women were wearing leggings. The issue is the fact that, minus the inaccessible information on the United Airlines website, this dress code is geared more towards women than men. And, while you think that this might not be an issue because it’s “just a dress code,” or it’s “because men don’t wear those kinds of clothes,” let’s all be reminded of the fact that many schools have banned colorful bows for being “distracting,” leggings because they are “distracting,” and have gotten girls sent home for wearing spaghetti straps because — you guess it — they were “distracting.”

So, let me shout, once again, for the people in the back.



Featured image courtesy of Pixabay/Public Domain.

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