A heated debate over charges of sexism in United Airlines’ purported right to regulate what female passengers wear aboard flights broke out Sunday on Twitter. And celebrities ― a well-traveled bunch ― were not about to keep quiet.
To recap: After a witness tweeted that she’d seen gate agents prevent three girls from boarding a flight due to their leggings, many Twitter users expressed outrage.
Two of the girls were not allowed to board, and a third, described as a 10-year-old in grey leggings, was only allowed on the plane after fishing a dress out of her bag to wear over her other clothes, according to the witness, gun control activist Shannon Watts. She noted that one of the passengers’ fathers was wearing shorts and faced no trouble.
United repeatedly defended the decision, initially pointing to a clause in its Contract of Carriage granting it the right to refuse passengers “not properly clothed.” Later, the airline stated the girls were “pass travelers” ― that is, friends or family of United employees traveling for heavily discounted rates ― and thus subject to a stricter dress code.
Still, for sexualizing children and policing women’s bodies, celebrities and the general public roasted the airline on Twitter.
“This is terrible,” Patricia Arquette wrote, addressing United. “Do you have a secondary fail safe from a supervisor to make these calls?”
United responded with the same message it’d been spouting all evening, signed by a male representative: “We remind all of our employees to review pass travel attire requirements before using their travel privileges.”
Arquette replied with this:
The United rep responded, “Patricia, as stated, these were United representatives. We hold our employees to the highest of standards.”
But the actress didn’t accept that explanation:
As the debate spread, Chrissy Teigen added her two cents, recounting a time she flew United “with literally no pants on” ...
... Before throwing in a joke.
Andy Richter also remembered flying United while not being ― as the airline’s Contract of Carriage states ― “properly clothed.”
Billy Eichner recalled his own past experience with United in a bit more graphic detail.
Later, Seth Rogen chimed in with a bit of sarcasm.
William Shatner pondered boarding a United flight in leggings of his own, reminding everyone that he’d done it before, and pulled it off rather well.
All jokes aside, the actor criticized United’s policy of regulating girls’ clothing so severely ― even those with special travel privileges.
“If they were wearing string bikinis [United] may have had a point,” Shatner wrote.
Sarah Silverman, too, responded to United’s self-defense by suggesting the “outdated” rules for friends and family of employees could use “updating.”
“It’s just that saying a dad in cargo shorts is more appropriate than a 10 y/o girl in leggings is weird,” she wrote.
Even LeVar Burton didn’t think the airline’s response was “a good look.”
In a statement about the incident, United repeated its defense once more, and concluded by stating, “To our regular customers, your leggings are welcome.”
To the girls affected, evidently, their leggings are still not. And United is not sorry.
Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Tracy Morgan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Moore, Padma Lakshmi and a whole host of other stars are teaming up for Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU. Donate now and join us at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, March 31, on Facebook Live. #standforrights2017