March 27 2017
The Great United Airlines Leggings Flap of 2017 just makes me sigh.
Here's the story, as reported in the New York Times:
United Airlines barred two teenage girls from boarding a flight on Sunday morning and required a child to change into a dress after a gate agent decided the leggings they were wearing were inappropriate. That set off waves of anger on social media, with users criticizing what they called an intrusive, sexist policy, but the airline maintained its support for the gate agent’s decision.
The girls, who were about to board a flight to Minneapolis, were turned away at the gate at Denver International Airport, the company said on Sunday....
The incident was first reported on Twitter by Shannon Watts, a passenger at the airport who was waiting to board a flight to Mexico. In a telephone interview from Mexico on Sunday afternoon, Ms. Watts said she noticed two visibly upset teenage girls leaving the gate next to hers. Both were wearing leggings.
Ms. Watts went over to the neighboring gate and saw a “frantic” family with two young girls, one of whom was also wearing leggings, engaged in a tense exchange with a gate agent who told them, “I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.”
Ms. Watts said the girl’s mother told her the two teenagers had just been turned away because the gate agent said their pants were not appropriate travel attire. The woman had a dress in her carry-on bag that the child was able to pull on over her pants, and the family boarded the flight.
“The girl pulled a dress on,” Ms. Watts said. “But please keep in mind that the dad had on shorts that did not hit his knee — they stopped maybe two or three inches above his knee — and there was no issue with that.”
Ms. Watts judged that the two girls who were barred from boarding were in their “young teens” and the girl who changed into a dress was 10 or 11.
Well! Want to see a hurricane-level Twitter storm from outraged celebrities?
Model Chrissie Tiegen vowed to go topless on her next United flight:
I have flown united before with literally no pants on. Just a top as a dress. Next time I will wear only jeans and a scarf.
Comwdienne Sarah Silverman plans to boycott United altogether:
Then we have Jezebel:
When you get on a plane, the main goal for most people is to be comfortable. You know what’s comfortable? Leggings. They’re warmer than tights, stretchier than jeans, less “I’ve given up-y” than sweatpants. You might say they’re the ideal plane clothing—unless you’re flying United.
Reminder--they're talking about little girls in leggings....
Now for some facts:
1. Shannon Watts, the primary source for this story, wasn't just any passenger who happened to waiting for a flight at the Denver airport. She's the founder of the gun control group Moms Demand Action, where she pretends to be just a stay-at-home mother of five who got so outraged over the Sandy Hook School massacre that she set up a grassroots organization on Facebook. In fact, she's a longtime public-relations professional with her own firm--and during the 1990s she served as a public-affairs officer for the late (and vehemently anti-gun) Missouri Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan. All the information we have about the incident comes from Watts, a liberal activist with obvious axes to grind.
2. We don't know how old the girls in question were or what their leggings actually looked like. The New York Times was quite cagey about their ages, describing them variously as "two teen-age girls," "two young girls," and, in a quote from Watts, "young teens." But then again, Watts also apparently told the Times that one of the girls, the one who put a dress on over her leggings, was "10 or 11." That's not a teen-ager--and how exactly did Watts know how old the girl was anyway? But the sympathetic Times takes Watts on her word and refers to the girl as a "child" twice in the above excerpt.
Furthermore, there are leggings, and there are leggings. Were the leggings in question thick knits that looked like skinny pants--or did they fit like sausage skins, reveal every crevice in the female body, and make their wearers look like balloon dogs? We'll never know.
3. The girls in question were not paying customers. They and their parents were friends or relatives of United employees flying for free or at a substantial discount as a perk for United employees. United and most other airlines have dress codes for bothe their employees and these "pass" passengers, on the theory that they represent the airline and ought to look dignified while in the air. As a United statement said:
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.
To our regular customers, your leggings are welcome.
United had a right to impose whatever dress standards it wanted to on people taking advantage of its employee benefits. But that seems to have escaped the attention of the (in this case literally) airheaded celebrities and feminist journalists who want to find sexism and double standards under every plane seat.