Twitter's getting fly with United Airlines over #LeggingGate

United Airlines has a message for its regular-paying customers: "your leggings are welcome".

That's when social activist, Shannon Watts, who happened to be a witness - ended up tweeting the madness.

American Airlines Group Inc has a policy on free passes that is similar to United's, but Delta Air Lines Inc defers to travelers' "best judgment" about their clothing.

By Monday afternoon, more than 24 hours after Watts' first tweet, United was still dealing with people on Twitter to clarify its dress code policy.

The girls were reportedly traveling under the airline's special employee travel pass.

The airline's dress code bars pass travellers from wearing spandex or Lycra trousers such as leggings, but its actions sparked a quick backlash on Twitter, New York Times said.

In a statement Sunday, the airline said: "When taking advantage of this benefit, all employees and pass riders are considered representatives of United. Mostly W&Kids wear leggings", Arquette added.

But it hasn't stopped a barrage of criticism from social media, including celebrities who have voiced their opinions. "A dress code still shouldn't be gendered and sexist".

"It's not going to be a pretty sight, but I'm going to wear yoga trousers for my next flight", said another citizen.

- Nick Bolton (@NickBolton13) March 26, 2017 @united care to explain why your employee dress code applies to children?

After the incident, United's mentions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram exploded from its average 2,000 daily mentions to 174,000, almost 70 percent of them negative, said Kellan Terry, a spokesman for the social media analysis firm Brandwatch.

She said she saw flight agents turn the girls away due to their leggings.

United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin told NBC News the three elected to stay in Denver so that they would not be separated. The airlines, she said, should be left to their policies for friends and family free travel.

Delta doesn't list which clothes are are prohibited specifically for their non-revenue passengers, but say they should be polished and should not be vulgar. Next time I'll put on a pair of jeans and a scarf.

"I feel like the dress code is a little outdated", she said.

  • Carolyn Briggs