Leggings may be cozy, but they’re not always appropriate for travel — at least says one airline.

Two women were banned by United Airlines from flying a Denver-to-Minneapolis route over the weekend because they were sporting the popular athleisure wear. Nearby traveler Shannon Watts, who witnessed the teenage girls being turned away by a gate agent, sparked a social media outcry when she tweeted about it.

Another young girl, also wearing leggings, was allowed to board the plane after she put on a dress that her mother was carrying in her luggage.


United defended its policy in response to the backlash, explaining on Twitter that the passengers were “pass riders” in violation of its dress code for company benefit travel.

What does this company dress code entail?

Jonathan Guerin, a spokesman for United who confirmed the airline’s actions to the New York Times, cited the women’s leggings as violating the company’s dress code policy for pass travelers, a benefit allowing United employees and their dependents “to travel for free on a standby basis.”

Guerin told the Times that pass travelers are “‘representing’ the company and as such are not allowed to wear Lycra and spandex leggings, tattered or ripped jeans, midriff shirts, flip-flops, or any article of clothing that shows their undergarments.”

Celebrities like Patricia Arquette, Chrissy Teigen, and Sarah Silverman sounded off about the company’s actions.

So what can you wear if you’re not traveling as a United representative, but rather, a regular paying customer?

The airline’s contract of carriage outlines the refusal or removal of a passenger for safety reasons, including “passengers who are barefoot or not properly clothed.”

But what does this mean for leggings? Anxious paying customers worried about losing their right to wear the comfort clothes need not fear. According to United, this popular wardrobe choice is indeed welcome.