United against leggings and overbooking
Kara Jobmann | Staff Writer
Over the past few weeks, United Airlines has experienced backlash for not allowing two girls in leggings to board an aircraft. About a week after, the airline was in crisis again after throwing a person off of a plane because they overbooked a flight.
The two girls, who were not allowed on the plane for their choice in pants, were riding on “buddy passes.” This means that they had family members working for the airline. United’s statement even said that people of the United family are held to a dress code and are expected to dress a certain way while flying. It said that business attire was preferred for employees.
The issue with this is that United seems to negate the fact that many people consider leggings to be pants and a valid, appropriate choice in clothing. It isn’t like the women tried to walk on in bathing suits or tiny shorts with their backsides hanging out.
While I understand that the airline has to hold their employees to a dress code, family and friends wearing clothes that completely cover their legs, backsides and ankles should not be barred from entering a plane. I also want to know how other passengers would have even known that the girls were United affiliates. Even though they had different tickets, who actually looks at strangers’ tickets?
The statement from United just doesn’t cut it. Flying is uncomfortable, especially on a plane that overbooks their tight capacities. It has also raised a lot of questions for feminist groups. Why should a 10 or 11 year old be penalized for wearing something comfortable, and why should these girls’ clothes matter?
Airplanes are notorious for overbooking in general, and packing as many people into planes as they can. Airlines nickel and dime customers for luggage, peanuts and drinks. Earlier this week, United threw a doctor off of a plane because it was overbooked.
He was literally carried by his feet and hands by security officers after they asked for volunteers but no one stepped forward. The airline explained that the man refused to comply, but the issue with United’s first statement is in how they said, “he refused to leave voluntarily.” The oxymoron here is comical. If a man voluntarily leaves, you wouldn’t drag his bloodied body out of the plane.
The airline said that the man was thrown off because United crew members would be unable to sit after overbooking. What gets me is that this is the same airline that has branded themselves with “fly-friendly skies,” and then refused to let on passengers wearing leggings and dragged a person off of a plane. United released two failed statements after the fact, then finally came to a rest with a third and final statement in which the CEO apologized.
The public relations crisis has snowballed because the airline allowed it to. With two botched statements, and by allowing the situation to get so out of hand, the airline, indirectly, accused the man that they forcibly removed as the problem.
United will surely make its way into future public relations text books for the leggings scandal, forcing someone’s removal, making false claims and then allowing social media to run wild with the occurrence. We can all learn how to not handle a crisis from this and how to not treat paying customers.
Featured Image: A photo of United Airlines Boeing 767-322ER, taken in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Luis Argerich.
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