United Airlines is being accused of sexism and body shaming after an agent did not allow a 10-year-old girl to board a flight because she was wearing leggings.
The incident occurred on March 26 while passengers were boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis, the Daily Mail reported. A 10-year-old girl and two other passengers were not allowed to board a flight because a gate agent said they were inappropriately dressed.
A fellow passenger who witnessed the incident took to Twitter to slam United Airlines.
"A United gate agent isn't letting girls in leggings get on flight from Denver to Minneapolis because spandex is not allowed?" Shannon Watts tweeted at United Airlines. "She's forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can't board.
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The agent also told the girls she "doesn't make the rules, just follows them," Watts added.
Several Twitter users commented on the thread. Most were seemingly just as shocked as Watts was.
"If leggings aren't allowed then what about shorts and dresses," wrote one Twitter user. "Sounds like united Airlines is bodyshaming."
"United Airlines is defending their decision to prevent pre-teen girls wearing leggings from boarding a flight due to their attire," wrote another.
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United Airlines responded to the tweets and defended the gate agent's decision. They explained that they reserved the right to refuse anyone entry who did not meet it's dress code, and that whether a passenger is suitably dressed or not is at the discretion of gate agents.
The airline also cited its "Contract of Carriage," which states that agents have the right to refuse anyone who is "barefoot or not properly clothed."
Watts responded to United Airlines' explanation.
"3 girls inspected for wearing perfectly acceptable leggings. 2 not allowed to board. I don't care what kind of passengers they were," Watts tweeted. "This behavior is sexist and sexualizes young girls. Not to mention that the families were mortified and [inconvenienced].
"As the mother of 4 daughters who live and travel in yoga pants, I'd like to know how many boys [United Airlines] has penalized for the same reason."
The 10-year-old girl was eventually allowed to board the plane after she changed into a dress. The other two passengers were not allowed to board because they did not have a change of clothes handy.
A United Airlines spokesperson told the Daily Mail the three passengers were traveling as guests of airline staff, which is why they were held to a more formal dress code. The spokesperson added that if they were regular ticket holders, they would have not been held to the same standard.
Fox News reported the official statement:
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. We regularly remind our employees that when they place a family member or friend on a flight for free as a standby passenger, they need to follow our dress code.
They added that their regular customers were welcome to wear leggings on American Airlines planes.