A girl, 10, went to embark her United Airlines plane from Denver to Minneapolis this morning, according to a women who witnessed her at the gate.
But she was told her clothing was inappropriate, even though her father was reportedly allowed to board wearing shorts.
In order to get on the flight, she had to change into a dress she had in her luggage, witnesses said on social media, criticising the airline.
Two other girls were reportedly not allowed to board at all because they didn’t have a change of clothes.
After people posted on Twitter about what happened, the company responded by copy-pasting the same line from their policy over and over again: ‘UA shall have the right to refuse passengers if they are not properly clothed via our Contract of Carriage.’
They then faced even more criticism for responding in ‘robotic’ manner and not engaging with people’s concerns.
Later, the company said that the passengers were not on a general ticket but were ‘pass riders’ – understood to be United employees or their relatives eligible for free flights if there are spaces available.
A United Airlines spokesman posted on Twitter: ‘As pass riders represent UA when they fly, they have a specific dress code
‘Casual attire is allowed as long as it looks neat and is in good taste for the local environment.’
However, many people questioned why leggings would ever be deemed inappropriate for a child.
‘Actually no one would have noticed the difference between pass riders and regular riders,’ one user commented.