Woman ‘Humiliated’ By United Gate Agent Who Felt Threatened By Her Breasts

Ever since airline deregulation, as air travel prices have fallen, the skies have become increasingly small-d democratic. While the average income of an airline passenger is above the national average, people inside the metal tube have looked much more like America than when I was young.

I used to travel as an unaccompanied minor, living in New York and visiting my dad in California. In the early 1980s I used to be dressed up in a jacket and tie to fly. Now passengers come as they are and people from all walks of life intermingle. Meanwhile the country itself has become far less formal, which means that airline passenger attire has changed along with it.

That sometimes creates clashes between an airline’s expectations – or at least a gate agent’s or flight attendant’s expectations – and the passengers they serve. Whether it’s Southwest kicking off a woman that’s ‘too sexy to fly’ or United denying boarding to a passenger in leggings (who turned out to be a nonrev passenger, but the airline’s twitter account made no distinction and declared such dress inappropriate for the airline).

What better name could their be for a frequent traveler than Andrea Worldwide? She’s a United customer who flies “every 10 to 14 days” and earlier this month departing Denver she had a run in with one of the airline’s gate agents. She says she’s a MileagePlus elite member, a status she earns flying for business and taking regular trips to Puerto Rico to visit her boyfriend.

She felt humiliated when a male gate agent stopped her from boarding her Denver – Newark flight because her top was ‘too revealing’.

Andrea Worldwide was boarding a flight from Denver, Colorado to Newark, New Jersey on January 13 when a male employee stopped her from getting on the plane, she shared on Facebook.

She was eventually told that her shirt was too low-cut — and only after that humiliation did employees change their minds and let her on the plane.

Here’s what she says she was wearing:

United’s contract of carriage says they may deny boarding to passengers who are barefoot or “not properly clothed” but fails to define what that means. As a result it becomes a subjective determination on any given flight. As a result it’s impossible to know in advance what will trigger a gate agent or flight attendant. Will Chrissy Teigen cause the next incident?

As an airline, United is moving more and more towards subjectivity removing bag sizers at the gate leaving it up to the discretion of an agent whether or not a bag is appropriate size to be on board. The problem is that customers and any given agent, from whatever their background, may have a different view of an appropriate bag size and appropriate clothing for travel.

On Spirit Airlines you’re lucky if passengers are wearing clothes at all

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. This is stupid Gary. You’re above this. I read your blog to be informed about miles and points – not trash like this.

  2. If UA is getting more subjective then just pull that scarf around a little better next time.

    What’s next for UA, banning people who wear socks with their sandals?

  3. @Jose

    Agree, what breasts? She is trying to get attention

    She “employs hundreds of women”, sure, hundreds, not thousands? What does she do? Don’t tell me, YouTuber? Blogger? 😉

  4. Let me guess, this “humiliation” can only be fixed with a $50k settlement? People suck. Get over your victimhood complex. You don’t have an inalienable right to not have your feelings hurt.

  5. Can’t find a single item in your post that supports “threatened” in the title. Can you expound on what that gate agent said to you about this incident? Otherwise, I think you clickbaited the shark with this one.

  6. Poor fashion choice, but I’m surprised if this would actually get you kicked off a plane (although I see that she did actually fly). That said, so what? If I go to a restaurant and wear casual clothes different from what other diners are wearing, do I have any legitimate grievance if the restaurant tells me to put on different clothes? Does everything have to go everywhere as long as it’s not obscene? Why? Why can’t businesses have dress codes, even if they don’t enforce them 100% of the time? And isn’t it a good idea to discourage folks from not wearing “provocative” clothes when they fly?

  7. Why do I keep reading this junk? I only have myself to blame for reading this trash. I could have spent the last two minutes working, learning, earning or burning miles and instead I went here

  8. What makes you think Gary is above this? 50% of his content is crying about AA/AAdvantage, 25% is pushing AA credit cards and 15% is stuff like this.

  9. @chopstix: I have eaten at the #1 restaurant in the World, Osteria Francescana, dressed in GYM SHORTS and tennis shoes. (They did put us in the back corner behind the plant).
    So , F someone’s dress code to spend ridiculous money at their restaurant….
    and the F doesn’t stand for first class.

  10. The spoils of being an “expert” in the field. Send some trashy boob stories to the rubes once in awhile to stay in business, and keep anything useful to yourself and your inner circle
    And I don’t need an expert to complain about AA – too easy, lowest form of reporting right there

  11. I bet the sizers will come back – as someone will say that they had a bag that was not too big but they couldn’t bring it on the plane because they were discriminated against as being a member of a protected class. The trend is away from subjective decisions.

  12. I can’t wait for the UA gate agents to take a stand and finally block all passengers wearing white socks with black shoes. How terrible!

    #Kirbyed

  13. Why do I have the feeling this story is made up? Either she did not have the jacket and scar on and her boobies were hanging out or the whole thing is made up.

    Is it just me or is it just women who have issues? The Qantas red workout outfit and Ugg boots, leggings etc etc. I want to see a guy try to get on a plane with his man boobs hanging out or in spandex unitard showing his junk. Have a 60 yr old try and get into an Emirates Lounge wearing flip lops with white tube socks.

  14. So the woman who had this incident with UA legally changed her name to market herself as Worldwide worldwide? Sounds like the act of a desperate attention-seeker.

    Her boyfriend seems to be in line to find out the hard way that he may be dealing with a drama queen who becomes increasingly dramatic. At least if he doesn’t move on sooner than later.

  15. Yea whatever. She seems like exactly the type of person who would try to make this a thing and run to the media for attention. If this did happen I am willing to bet that the male employee is gay. Have a difficult time imagining any straight man complaining about this or wanting to get involved in this dispute.

  16. Sounds like a bunch of disappointed commenters up in here, who were hoping for some good pics.

    Thanks Gary. If nothing else a good reminder that wackos out there are always looking to dip into someone’s (your) wallet.

  17. To all those in hysterics about it being included in this edition of the newsletter: take a chill pill and relax. In every issue besides the tips, Gary includes a funny, sad, oddball, happy, sweet, wtf?, or quirky item. It makes for a little levity. There’s always a brief description so if you have certain triggers, DON’T CLICK THE LINK! It will spare the rest of us your petty outrage

  18. I have up on UAL 30 years ago,. So,. The question is Why do you still punish yourself by flying UAL when there are so many other better options?

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