The Problem with the United Airlines Leggings Incident Isn’t the Airline — It’s the Parents

People are up in arms about United Airlines barring two teenage girls from boarding a flight on Sunday morning and requiring one to change into a dress after a gate agent decided the leggings they were wearing were inappropriate. Oh, the anger on social media! It’s sexist! It’s girl-shaming! It’s intrusive!

Not so much.

Here’s the thing: if the kids were regular paying customers, I’d probably be appalled, too. But they weren’t. They were children of United employees, traveling on employee air passes, and as such, were required to follow an employee dress code that’s been in place for many years. They didn’t, and were booted off the plane.

However, I don’t blame the kids and I certainly don’t blame United — I blame the parents, who as employees of the airline, got the free passes and knew the rules. Rules that they and their children chose to ignore.

Guidelines clearly state that the following attire for employees and their family flying as guests of United is unacceptable in any cabin:

  • 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

So, yeah, leggings clearly fall under the banned “form-fitting Lycra” category. We have plenty of things — real bias, real sexism, real injustices — to be duly outraged about. This is not one of them.


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