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NEW YORK: Two girls wearing leggings were barred from boarding a United Airlines flight on Sunday because they were not in compliance with a dress code for passengers.

The incident has stoked a major public relations nightmare as many celebrities have come out in condemnation of the decision, saying they would never travel again with the carrier, The incident captured the attention of social media after it was witnessed by the founder of Moms Demand Action, Shannon Watts, who tweeted that two girls in “normal, appropriate” leggings were stopped from boarding, while a third pulled on a dress over her leggings before being allowed on the plane.

The reason given by United Airlines for denying them entry? The girls “were United pass riders who were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel”.

Agencies add: United Airlines ran into a social media storm after the move.

The charges began to fly across the Twittersphere, with outraged travellers and celebrities weighing in with accusations of sexism and corporate ham-handedness.

“She’s forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can’t board,” Shannon Watts said. “Since when does @united police women’s clothing? A 10-year-old girl in grey leggings,” she added of one of the girls.

That only drew attention to what many saw as a double standard. Some wondered what business United had in deciding for others what was appropriate casual wear.

“@united Leggings are business attire for 10 year olds. Their business is being children,” Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Arquette tweeted.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2017