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United Airlines takes heat after girls are denied entry onto flight for wearing leggings

United landed in hot water Sunday after two girls were told they couldn't board their flight because the leggings they were wearing were inappropriate.
/ Source: TODAY

A warning to all those who value comfort over style while traveling: wearing leggings on a plane could get you more than just a side-eye from fellow passengers.

In the case of some young women flying United from Denver to Minneapolis, it got them booted off a flight.

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The incident occurred on Sunday. A woman named Shannon Watts tweeted that girls in leggings were being refused entry to United Flight 215 unless they changed or put dresses over their clothes.

Right on cue, the United Twitter account popped up to see what was going on, at which point Watts asked them for clarification on their policy.

United didn't back down, insisting that they had the right to refuse entry to anyone who was dressed inappropriately. They later stated that the women were "pass riders," relatives or friends of a United Airlines employee, for whom there is a stricter dress code.

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A spokesman for United Airlines, Jonathan Guerin, told NBC News that had the group been regular travelers, they would have been permitted to wear yoga pants and leggings. Two of the passengers denied boarding were teens, he said.

"When traveling as a United pass traveler, we always remind our family and friends there are rules we all need to follow. We remind them that they are representing United Airlines," he said.

In a statement on their website, the airline sought to make clear that leggings were fine for regular passengers.

"The passengers this morning were United pass riders and not in compliance with our dress code for company benefit travel," the airline said. "We regularly remind our employees that when they place a family member or friend on a flight for free as a standby passenger, they need to follow our dress code."

Watts, a mother of four daughters, still wasn't having it. She insisted that the girls looked "normal and appropriate."

"I have five kids: four of them are women," Watts told NBC News in an email. "They wear yoga pants all of the time when flying. As a Premiere United flier, I think this policy is arbitrary and sexist. It singles out women for their clothing and sexualizes little girls."

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TODAY reached out to Watts, but had yet to hear back at publish time.