By now the story has hopefully run it’s course over social media: On a flight from Denver to Minneapolis last Sunday, a gate agent told some young passengers wearing leggings they could not board United flight 215 in that attire.
The reason: they were non-revenue passengers, meaning they were using passes issued to United employees that, as part of the deal, come with a behavior and dress code.
“Form-fitting lycra/spandex tops, pants and dresses,” are expressly forbidden for passengers boarding on buddy passes as our own Vociferous Envoy calls them.
Letting a short meme or tweet describe a complex situation
This event should have been the end of this Nothing Burger but unfortunately, only the first part was communicated in the Twitter-sphere where impulse-sharing causes a story to travel at light speed before the facts can catch up. People see the tweet or headline and they jump to conclusions based on their own experiences and beliefs. Many believed the airline was being sexist because men were allowed to board the same flight in shorts.
My initial thinky-thought on this when I had more — but not all — of the information was “I think there’s enough blame to go around. The girls failed to follow a rule required to get the discounted airfare and the airline made too big a deal over an article of clothing.” This got me 40 back and forth comment tennis between two opposing viewpoints.
About that Dress Code
First let’s get this out of the way. Yes, the airline has every fucking right to enforce a dress code that they see fit. I’m not clear how the airline benefits from a non-rev dressing up a bit, if no one except the airline knows they are non-revs. But the comments section of the internet helped me out on that one.
Hmm, okay, fine. It sets a standard that maybe some passenger observes and decides to mimic, I’ll give you that one. That said, if you are getting all this negative reaction, perhaps it’s time to review your dress code and update it present day. I’m not saying you have to change anything. Just make sure it isn’t biased, sexist or too ridiculous given the times we live in.
This guy would like us to return to the days of stricter business casual apparel. I”d like to return to the days of not having to be at the airport three times the number of hours of my actual flight time but those days are not coming back. No one should have to dress up in their Sunday best for a 2 hour flight.
They are Teenagers for Cthulu’s Sake
Obviously these kids didn’t get the buddy pass, it was their father. And whether he told them they needed to dress appropriate or not, I can guess how that would go. [It will be at least a dozen years before I have to deal with the dressing patterns of teenagers but I’m guessing they have their ups and downs same as toddlers.] Expecting teenagers to dress up for a short flight is a bit much.
I know you have to draw the line somewhere and it’s easier to brush in broader strokes rather than try to pin down appropriate leggings versus inappropriate ones, but come on, these are kids on a 2 hour flight.
I’d say the takeaway from this, like so many other stories that go viral before all the facts are in, is: When something like this happens, it doesn’t hurt to wait to get all the facts. If it’s true at Run Time, it will be true 10 minutes or 10 days later.
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