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United Airlines Is Under Fire For Excluding Leggings from 'Buddy Pass' Dress Code

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An airline and some unhappy customers made headlines this weekend for Twitter drama rivaling a celebrity social media feud. On Sunday, Twitter users freaked out after United Airlines barred two young girls from boarding their flight to Minneapolis. The reason? The girls were wearing leggings.

Their removal from the flight went viral almost immediately, prompting a swift outpouring of angry Tweets.

It later came to light that the girls were using tickets with special policies attached—a point that some are using to defend United Airlines. They were travelling with “buddy passes”—discounted tickets for family and friends of airline employees—which subjects users to a specific dress code that isn’t applicable to customers with normal tickets. In United’s case, the dress code for buddy passes includes leggings.

These tickets have special guidelines because their users are expected to represent the airline. And whether an employee or their family member uses a buddy pass, they’re also expected to follow the airline’s rules. Henry Harteveldt, a founder of travel-consultancy Atmosphere Research Group, explained to USA Today that “if somebody doesn’t know something—and it’s an innocent mistake--the person using the buddy pass could be denied boarding.”

United’s policy for buddy passes allowed #LeggingsGate by their own rules. The airline, however, didn’t clarify this point before responding to Twitter users about the conflict.

Rule or no rule, the incident has reignited the debate over whether or not leggings are 'appropriate' for everyday wear—and if United Airlines’ buddy pass policy is sexist for banning them. After all, the policy seems to target women, who are more likely to wear form-fitting pants. It’s unclear how leggings are disruptive to a flight or so negatively representative of an entire airline that they need to be banned...we’ll wait for United to clarify.

For now, regular customers can continue wearing their leggings on United flights.


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