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Make America Smartly Dressed Again

'Leggings girls' flying free on corporate pass were subject to dress code — as all of us should be

Raise your hand if you’ve seen any of these types of attire on your fellow passengers recently when you flew somewhere: ratty jeans. Wrinkled T-shirts. Flip-flops. Shorts that were way too short. Yoga pants that looked like they belonged at a … yoga class. Overalls with no T-shirt (or anything else) underneath. Badly scuffed shoes, or worse — no shoes at all once someone has taken a seat.

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Chances are excellent you are far from alone.

This overly casual, dressed-down traveling America has become a problem for many of us. And now, two teens and a younger girl who wore leggings (or tried to) aboard a United Airlines flight on Sunday are the subject of incredible interest on the internet — and across the country — this week.

Before they boarded, a United agent stopped them and questioned them about their legging attire.

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The woman who tweeted out the story to millions of viewers “gave followers a play-by-play as events unfolded,” as a piece in SheKnows also explained. “A United gate agent isn’t letting girls in leggings get on flight from Denver to Minneapolis because spandex is not allowed?”

The woman then added a few minutes later: “She’s [the gate agent] forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can’t board. Since when does United police women’s clothing?”

It’s critical to note that these travelers were what’s known as “pass riders.” They’re relatives of United employees who fly for free or on discount, the airline said — but also with certain expectations. And those expectations were made clear at the gate. “Like most companies, we have a dress code that we ask employees and pass riders to follow,” United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said in a media statement.

Related: Airplane Etiquette in an Angry Age

These people were representing the airlines, of course — so they’re held to a higher standard.

Frankly, though, all of us should be held to a higher standard when we travel. What’s wrong with putting on a jacket if you’re a man or a dress or a pantsuit if you’re a woman? What’s wrong with kids dressing up a bit if they’re traveling with their parents or family? What’s wrong with presenting ourselves well and showing respect toward others in the process?

Remember how our parents and grandparents traveled? They dressed with class. They cared about making a good impression. They cared how they treated others.

Yet some news outlets are suggesting this United incident is “sparking a lot of conversations about sexism and dress code policies that target women more than men.”

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But for now, United is standing by its policy — and many of us are applauding them for doing so.

Sure, airlines are competing for passengers and business. But again, how about showing a little respect to others around you, not to mention displaying self-respect?

Naturally, other airlines tried to capitalize on the United incident and the backlash that followed. Delta Airlines tweeted this to followers: “Flying Delta means comfort. (That means you can wear your leggings).”

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