United Airlines branded sexist for banning girls in leggings

US carrier provokes Twitter storm by refusing to let two teenagers fly unless they put dresses on

United Airlines sexism row
United Airlines2017 has been quite the annus horribilis for United. Most controversially, video footage emerged in April of airline officials forcibly removing 69-year-old doctor Dao from a flight departing from Chicago. Dao had refused to give up his s
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The American airline United Airlines has come under fire after barring two girls from boarding a flight on Sunday morning because they were wearing leggings.

Activist Shannon Watts documented the episode on Twitter after witnessing airline staff demand the girls put dresses on over their leggings before boarding the plane.

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In a second tweet, Watts said she questioned the gate agent who made the girls put dresses on and was told that "she doesn't make the rules, just follows them".

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Watts added that the airline's action was "sexist and sexualises young girls".

Her tweets set off "waves of anger" on social media, says the New York Times.

Model Chrissy Teigen expressed her displeasure and told her 4.7 million followers she had flown with fewer clothes on in the past:

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Other celebrities and their followers threatened to stop flying with the airline.

Seeing a PR disaster in the making, United Airlines staff rapidly sent "dozens of tweets", says the New York Times, and explained that the policy enforced on the girls in question did not apply to all passengers.

The airline said the group deemed inappropriately dressed were "pass travellers" – employees of the airline or their family members, who are allowed to travel for free when flights are not fully booked, but were subject to a strict dress code.

This was not enough to satisfy many critics, however. Comedian Sarah Silverman said the rules were still sexist, to whomever they applied. She tweeted:

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