No, United is not cracking down on leggings or women’s rights. Social media is sensational. It’s the fastest form of pushing communications to the masses, and it creates opportunity for truly unique or important stories to spread organically, like wildfire. With this light speed means of communications, certain topics however become something they definitely are not, as is the case of United Airline #SpandexGate.

Here’s A Recap Of What Actually Happened…

A United flight from Denver to Minneapolis was boarding when two teenage girls approached the gate and were denied boarding based on their (spandex legging) apparel. This sounds insane, but unbeknownst to passers by at the time, the girls were traveling on United non revenue employee pass tickets. United has an (albeit antiquated) dress code policy for people who travel for free on their airline on employee guest passes, which specifically prohibits spandex, leggings and other form fitting clothing. When the two teenage girls were denied boarding, others, including a women’s rights blogger witnessed the incident, unaware that the girls had a separate dress code to adhere to. They (Shannon Watts) took to Twitter to bash the airline, claiming that this was sexist and raising doubt about United.

Shannon Watts was not wrong to inquire and Tweet to United at the time of incident, since she could not automatically know the girls were subject to different dress code. She was however told repeatedly by United about the crucially important circumstances and rules which caused this. She has subsequently continued to ignore these crucial details in hopes of gaining some press and traction for her brand. Shameful.

And United Accidentally Threw Gas On The Fire…

Communications is key here. Without first looking into the incident, to clarify “who” was denied boarding, United immediately responded with its contract of carriage which states that all passengers can be denied boarding for inappropriate dress or bare feet. Obviously leggings are NOT inappropriate clothing and this would signal some sort of crazy, sexist, double standard for what passengers may wear, throwing most female passengers into serious doubt. For the record, my wife Laura wears leggings on flights all the time, so I would’ve found this ludicrous. This then sent the initial tweets viral and kicked off #spandexgate. If United had first looked to find that the girls in question were non-rev, pass flyers, they could’ve clearly stated that United has a specific dress code, crisis averted. But they didn’t…

This Is Much To Do About Nothing, Almost…

Despite the sensationalist headlines you’ll likely see, the ridiculous claims and likely future lawsuits, this is a non issue that was just handled extremely poorly by United. I do agree with United that flying for free, as a guest or family member of an employee is a huge privilege, and therefore a dress code is not out of the question. I do feel that their dress code may be a tad antiquated, perhaps even sexist as far as limiting contemporary clothing, but until compared against similar policies from other airlines it’s hard to make a definitive determination. In the end this was a mix of over eager people looking to create a viral story, an airline who failed due diligence before acting and girls who probably should’ve been told to put some jeans on by their parents…