As anyone with even a casual attachment to Twitter already knows, United Airlines got into deep shit this weekend after forcing two young girls, one of whom was only 10 years old, to change out of leggings before boarding the flight. The girls, who were flying on free employee passes, were deemed too slutty to board, as per United’s dress code for pass riders. Predictably, feminist Twitter flipped the fuck out, as women everywhere were triggered into remembering the first of many times they were forced to change by school officials who decided their arms/legs/shoulders/clavicles/whatever were far too tempting for the impressionable men around them to concentrate on their important man-tasks. United’s response was basically to throw two fingers in the air and tell the world that if 10-year-olds wanna ride fo’ free, then those 10-year-olds need to step up their fashion game. A bold stance.
The passengers this morning were United pass riders who were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel.
— United (@united) March 26, 2017
Now there is a debate here over whether or not the parents should have been more attentive to the dress code, and what United should or should not have done. A lot of frequent pass riders are saying this dress code is well known, and the girls should have known that such sinful, form-fitting attire would not be permitted. Others are appalled, not just at the fact that two children were slut shamed in front of an entire airplane, but also at the suggestion that anyone would wear anything other than leggings during air travel. You want me wearing pants? Like with a button and a zipper and shit? On a plane? Hard pass.
But like I said, that conversation is already happening all over Twitter. If you want to read about it, just check United’s mentions and go to fucking town. It’s all there. I’m not here to talk about that, and I’m certainly not here to get into the extremely divisive “are leggings pants?” debate. I don’t need the death threats. What I am here to say is this:
United fucking sucks as an airline. And I know from experience.
Over the new year I flew from D.C. to Wisconsin to Chicago to Denver, then from Denver to Chicago to NYC, all on United. It was a risk, but the prices were good and the times were right so I said what could go wrong? Everything, apparently.
Being that I, like every modern woman, have an anxiety disorder, I don’t like to check my bag. What if they lose all my shit? I need all my shit. My vibrator is in there. All my Christmas presents are in there. What kind of life would I lead without my vibrator and Christmas presents? I don’t want to know. That’s why my travel/baggage motto is always “Keep Calm and Carry On.” The “calm” brought to you by Xanax. Ty.
From Wisconsin to Denver, I volunteered to gate check my bag because the gate attendant was asking for volunteers and I’m a literally incredible person who was overtaken by the Christmas spirit. This detail would later be used against me, so fuck trying to be a nice person. Never again.
Cut to my return flight from Chicago to NYC. The flight is delayed two hours, which makes sense because it’s snowing a lot. I’m not bothered. I’d eaten like, a large amount of edible chocolates plus the Xanax so as far as I was concerned Chicago’s O’Hare airport was as comfortable as my own damn bed. I’m very chill.
Someone who is distinctly not very chill is our gate attendant. He is continually making announcements about how the plane is “being held in the terminal for no reason” and how the pilot “has no idea what he’s doing.” Not something that you want to hear about the person who is going to be behind the wheel of your sky-car, but again, I am heavily sedated and it would take nothing short of a terrorist attack to get me to feel anything but warm and slightly sleepy. Little did I know, the gate attendant would soon reveal himself to be my personal Osama Bin Laden.
Is that too extreme? Maybe. But I stand by it.
Finally, we are boarding. Things are going fine. I go up to get on the plane and come face to face with Angry Gate Attendant. He takes one look at me and yells “WELL I GUESS I HAVE TO CHECK YOUR ENORMOUS BAG.”
I pause. Surely he’s not talking about me? Me who has carried my bag on 4 out of 5 flights? Me who gate checked just recently out of the kindness of my own heart? Me who is existing in a bubble of chill vibes? No way. No fucking way.
So I say something to the effect of, “Oh really? I carried this on all my other flights.”
Here’s where being a good person comes to bite me in the ass. He snatches up the ticket that’s still stuck to my bag from when I gate checked and says “Clearly you didn’t!” and grabs my bag from me. He stands in between me and my vibrator.
I tell him again that yes I did carry on my bag previously, but it’s fine, I’ll gate check it, and I turn to leave. Next thing I know this dude is running after me, screaming “MA’AM! MA’AM!” he grabs the bag from me and drags me out to the line. He then tells me that I “appear to think in the wrong” and that if I want to get on the plane, I have to stand in front of the line and admit that he is “right in his assessment of the size of my bag.”
Deadass. This dude wants me to declare him right and myself wrong, in public, before all of the people in boarding group 4, before I am allowed to board the plane. At this point, my Xanax and edibles combination is turning against me. I start crying immediately. Big, wet, “I’m fucked up on drugs” tears. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.
So, I mean, I do it. I announce to the airport that I am wrong about the size of my bag. That my bag is actually very large. Far too large to ever be allowed on a plane. I must have dreamed that I carried the bag on my other flights. In fact, I didn’t dream it. I made it up. Purposely. To sabotage Chicago O’Hare airport and Angry Gate Attendant personally, because I’m jealous. I’m jealous of the airport. I’m jealous of Gate Hitler. I’m a jealous, messy bitch, and I’m deeply sorry.
As a result, my flight was less than ideal. We arrive in NYC at 2am and all I want to do is get my bag and GTFO. But my bag never comes.
For those of you who have never experienced the horror that is watching every single person on your flight pick up their bag until the carousel is empty and your life flashes before your eyes, you’re lucky. It’s like, getting your period when you weren’t expecting to x1000 and all your Christmas presents are gone. The now drunken Xanax-and-edible tears start back up again, and do not stop until I am safely in my bed, again, sans vibrator.
My bag and I were eventually reunited 48 hours later, when a random man delivered them to my apartment at 2am. I didn’t even get a free voucher or an apology or a separate bag with the gate attendant’s head in it or anything. And before you ask, of course I sent a thousand angry DMs to United’s customer service account. It’s 2017. Getting pissed off at companies on Twitter is like, a human right. Whoever runs their account apologized for the gate attendant’s behavior, but again, I’ve yet to receive an invitation to his funeral, so I am not satisfied.
All this is to say, leggings or no leggings, United fucking sucks. Their gate attendants are mean, and they clearly have issues with normalizing their policies across airports. My athleisured ass will be flying Southwest from here on out. Or maybe Jetblue. Or even—dare I say—Virgin. That’s right, I’d rather watch their truly insane in-flight safety video before every single one of my connecting flights than step foot on a United plane ever again. And that’s really saying something, because this shit is pretty fucking extra: