CLOSE

United Airlines is under siege on Twitter after airline employees reportedly stopped two young girls from boarding because they were wearing leggings.
USA TODAY

Twitter exploded over the weekend with negative comments directed at United Airlines when a gate agent refused to board two young girls flying for free on a “pass,” a common perk offered to airline employees and their dependents. The offense? Wearing leggings, which, the employees should have known, contravene United’s published policy concerning free travel.

I, too, have been denied boarding for a fashion offense. For two years, I flew on passes on Eastern Air Lines (remember them?) as a contractor for the Shuttle. Every month I’d be handed a stack of coupons that allowed me to fly standby in first class anywhere in the world Eastern flew. Included with these was a slip of paper stating the company’s dress code: Men had to wear a suit and tie; ladies had to wear a dress. One day I showed up for boarding and forgot to wear a tie. The gate agent put me in economy class. When I protested he scolded me, “The way you’re dressed you don’t even deserve to fly at all!” The same thing happened years later on British Airways, but that time I had a tie in my carry-on bag.

That was decades ago, but airlines still enforce dress codes, albeit watered down, for employees and their dependents. And sometimes, for regular passengers as well.

Perhaps as a result of my airline days, and because my mom dressed me up like Little Lord Fauntleroy when we flew as a family, even today I dress up a bit. And why not? I like to…