United Airlines internet witch-hunt over terrible fashion decisions
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
Everyone knows that the internet is a place where those of the emotionally pent up horde can find things to be angry about. Recently, the focus of their anger was United Airlines. Calls for a boycott on the airline hit Twitter hard, as many people jumped to the defence of two women and a 10-year-old girl who were denied boarding because the gate employee found that their outfits were inappropriate.
What could they have possibly been wearing, you may ask. Apparently, the three were dressed in leggings and other comfortable athletic wear. When they went to board, the employee told them that they would need to put a dress or tunic on overtop their leggings, or they would not be permitted on the plane. A witness saw all of this occur, and immediately went onto Twitter to report the events to the mass hive-mind that is social media. Many shot back at the airline, claiming that they were slut-shaming or being sexist. A minority among those who responded expressed confusion, one such being TV Host Chrissy Teigen, who claimed that she had boarded a United flight wearing “almost nothing” before, yet was still allowed entry onto the plane.
Those who raised questions about the situation later had their inquiries answered, when it was revealed that the three wannabe passengers were actually companion or “buddy” pass holders. For those of you unfamiliar, I will explain.
A companion, or buddy, pass, is a special ticket given to friends or family of people that work for the airline. Almost every airline offers this as a benefit for their employees. An employee has a list of people that they can register as buddy pass holders. How many people they can add to this list varies with seniority as well as which airline they work for. Basically, it allows whoever is on the list to fly for free, or to simply pay flight taxes—which are minimal. The one catch is that anyone using a buddy pass is treated as an employee—to the point that—with some airlines—they are expected to help the flight crew clean up the plane after the other passengers have exited.
So how does this explain the employee’s refusal to let the three on board? Well, with any job, you have a dress code. If you use a buddy pass, you are required to abide by the dress code, which for most airlines request that you wear business-casual attire. This means no running shoes, no jeans, and definitely no athletic wear!
United’s response to all the Twitter hate remained in line with these set precedents, and they defended their employee’s request for the three individuals to change their attire. They also stated that while regular passengers (i.e. ones that paid for their tickets) were welcome to wear whatever they wanted, the dress code for buddy pass holders would remain stricter. In the end, the 10-year-old was admitted entry after she changed her shirt, but the other two women missed their flight.
So what have we learned? Try to make yourself aware of all the facts before engaging in internet witch-hunts, don’t believe everything you read on Twitter—and lastly, if someone is kind enough to get you something really expensive for free, at least have the decency to abide by the rules.