DENVER – Two girls flying from Denver International Airport Sunday were reportedly forbidden by an agent from boarding a United Airlines flight because both were wearing leggings, but airline officials said it was within their right to not allow them in.
Shannon Watts was at the gate at DIA when she witnessed the events unfold early Sunday morning.
“She’s forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can’t board. Since when does @united police women’s clothing?” Watts tweeted.
Responding to the complaint, United at first said in a tweet they had the right to refuse passengers who are not properly clothed from boarding a flight, and that the decision to not allow someone from boarding was up to the discretion of the agent at the gate.
Per @united, this is the line in their passenger contract that allows them to refuse service to women wearing leggings pic.twitter.com/poIG4HgqL7
— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) March 26, 2017
After the tweet went viral and the company was slammed with dozens of tweets from baffled customers, the airline clarified the passengers trying to board were United Pass riders – an employee pass which requires all pass holders to follow a dress code, which according to the company, the teens did not meet.
Speaking to the Washington Post, United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin said an internal policy for employees using this travel benefit “specifically forbids leggings while traveling.”
“Our regular passengers are not going to be denied boarding because they are wearing leggings or yoga pants,” Guerin told WaPo. “But when flying as a pass traveler we require this pass travelers to follow rules and that is one of those rules.”
People familiar with the buddy pass system know this policy has been in place for quite some time.
"As a condition of that benefit you have to follow the dress code - because indirectly you're representing the company," said Denver7 reporter Marc Stewart, who regularly covers the Colorado airline industry. Denver7 is our Scripps sister station.