The incident was first reported on Twitter by Shannon Watts, a passenger at the airport who was waiting to board a flight to Mexico.... Watts said the girl’s mother told her the two teenagers had just been turned away because the gate agent said their pants were not appropriate travel attire. The woman had a dress in her carry-on bag that the child was able to pull on over her pants, and the family boarded the flight.So... maybe it's time to crack down on men in shorts getting on planes. (Sorry for the reappearance of the word "crack." That looks wrong. Crack down. Yes, my leggings are stretched to transparency but when I get to my seat, I'll crack down.)
“The girl pulled a dress on,” Ms. Watts said. “But please keep in mind that the dad had on shorts that did not hit his knee — they stopped maybe two or three inches above his knee — and there was no issue with that.”
The airline's explanation is that that the family in question were "pass travelers" — which means they were using a benefit offered to United Airlines employees and dependents that lets them fly free. These people are seen as "representing" the company and held to higher standards that specifically impose dress standards that don't apply to paying passengers.
Under the pass program, they're only flying standby anyway, so they were not missing "their" flight, only stuck waiting for another flight. In the meantime, they changed what they were wearing.
My only problem with all of this — and otherwise I'd 100% support United — is that the man got to wear shorts.
Also, here's United's Contract of Carriage, Rule 21, "Refusal of Transport," which does apply to all passengers:
UA shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point... Passengers who are barefoot or not properly clothed....Who came up with that language "at any point"? We're talking about an airplane. Scary.