Airline fights back over anti-leggings claim

United Airlines was the target of major online criticism yesterday after barring two girls from a US domestic flight for wearing leggings in an apparent breach of their clothing policy.

The incident gained worldwide attention as gun control group Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts live tweeted the entire event.

Today United Airlines has responded, and things aren't as clear cut as they had first seemed.

The person involved was a friend of a United Airlines staff member, travelling on a discounted "Pass rider ticket".

Similar schemes are run by airlines around the world that allow friends and family of airline staff to travel with substantial discounts.

United Airlines has said even though staff may be off duty, they are still representing the airline, so there is a higher expectation of how a passenger will be dressed.

"All employees and pass riders are considered representatives of United. And like most companies, we have a dress code that we ask employees and pass riders to follow. 

"The passengers this morning were United pass riders and not in compliance with our dress code for company benefit travel. 

"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." the airline said in a statement

United Airlines has embarked on a Twitter campaign to remind passengers that #leggingsarewelcome.