united airlines
A United Airlines Boeing 787 taxis as a United Airlines Boeing 767 lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, US on February 7, 2015. Reuters/Louis Nastro

A gate agent of the United Airlines (UA) has barred two young girls at the Denver International Airport because they were wearing leggings. The girls were stopped from boarding a Minneapolis flight and they were forced to change or put dresses on over leggings. The incident was reported by Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts on Twitter.

United Airlines did not respond immediately to a phone call or email to explain the gate agent's act. However, the company directly responded to Watts saying that the passengers were United pass riders. The airline company tweeted that the young passengers were not in compliance with the company's dress code policy. According to the airline company, the rule 21 of the contract of carriage stated that the company has the right to refuse transport for passengers. It explained that the discretion to refuse was left to the agents.

The airline company explained that pass riders were United employees or eligible dependents who fly when possible as a company benefit. Pass riders were obliged to follow a dress code as they represented the airline when they fly but they could wear casual attire as long as it looks neat. The clothes should also be in good taste for the local environment. If they are not properly clothed or in barefoot, they could be barred.

Airline spokesman Jonathan Guerin said that the girls were not in compliance with the dress code policy for company benefit travel. He said that regular passengers could wear leggings or yoga pants and they would not be denied when they boarded. However, pass riders should not wear such clothing as it was part of a company rule.

Several celebrities disliked the company's act and they threatened to stop flying with the company. Model Chrissy Teigen said that she has flown with UA with literally no pants on. Teigen said that she just wore a top as a dress. She posted on her Twitter that next time she would fly with the airline, she would wear only jeans and a scarf. Later on, the model was informed by the company's policy. However, she said that she did not really care. The model said that if she had an issue with a company, she stopped giving them money.

Oscar-winning actor Patricia Arquette described UA’s action as terrible and rejected the company's policy explanation. She said that leggings were the business attire for children as their business was being children.