A Cinecle View – Non-Rev-olutionary

Tony Marion

Tony Marion

Oh … where to begin.

I guess it all starts with a hair-trigger Tweeter, handle @sharonrwatts, who, on March 26th, with no context, birthed a social media exploding controversy onto the world …


Faster than the speed of outrage, celebrity activists jumped into the fray …



… before they even knew the full story.

The dress code does not apply to customers paying normal airfare for their flights.

The family in question was flying on what in the commercial airline industry are called “non rev” tickets. These are free or heavily-discounted flights available to friends and family of airline employees, and almost every airline that offers the service has a dress code tied to the benefit; their logic being that non rev fliers are getting the same benefits available to airline employees, therefore, they should be held to the same standards for attire and behavior as the employees themselves.

But don’t get me wrong, my problem is not with the celebrities expressing their disagreement with the United dress code, even though NO ONE IS BEING FORCED TO PARTICIPATE. NON REV FLIGHTS ARE A COURTESY PROVIDED BY THE AIRLINES: IT’S THEIR MONEY, IT’S THEIR AIRPLANE, THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO INSIST ON JUST ABOUT ANY DRESS CODE THEY WANT. And passengers have the right to fly with another airline or pay full fare.

My problem is the immediate assumption that the dress code itself is somehow misogynist or sexist …





Apparently, not one of these people chose to do the .0003 seconds of research required on Google to actually read the United Airlines Non Rev dress code policy. Or if they did, they applied their own sinister political agenda fitting motive to the attire guidelines. A motive that, at least in the policy itself, does not exist …

Dress code,

Pass riders’ overall appearance should be well-groomed, neat, clean and in good taste.
Attire should be respectful of fellow revenue passengers, employees and pass riders.
Pass riders may wear denim attire (such as jeans), shorts that are no more than three inches above the knee and athletic shoes when traveling in Coach or Business cabin.
The following attire is unacceptable in any cabin but is not limited to:

  • Any attire that reveals a midriff.
  • Attire that reveals any type of undergarments.
  • Attire that is designated as sleepwear, underwear, or swim attire.
  • Mini Skirts
  • Shorts that do not meet 3 inches above the knee when in a standing position.
  • Form-fitting lycra/spandex tops, pants and dresses.
  • Attire that has offensive and/or derogatory terminology or graphics.
  • Attire that is excessively dirty or has holes/tears.
  • Any attire that is provocative, inappropriately revealing, or see-through clothing.
  • Bare feet
  • Beach-type, rubber flip-flops


In case you missed it, the line that applies to the young girls in question, “Form-fitting lycra/spandex tops, pants and dresses” does not remotely single out women or girls. Don’t agree? Come to breakfast with me and my wife this Saturday at Grand Central Bagel in Lancaster, PA, and you’ll see at least a handful of men wearing pants and/or tops that would prevent them from getting on a United Flight via the non rev program. In fact, almost every single one of those bullet points could apply to a man or a woman, with the possible exception of “Mini Skirts.”


But clearly even that is open to debate.

The policy is not sexist as written. So as long as enforcement is not selective, United is doing nothing legally wrong.

Though the revelation of the true circumstances behind “leggings-gate” didn’t change anyone’s opinion …




The funny thing is, I completely agree that United’s gate employees could and should have handled the situation better, the non rev dress code is outdated and for sure heavy handed when it comes to kids, but sexist? Nope.

My concern is that celebrities, deservedly or not, have bigger soapboxes and more devoted followers (some of whom follow SCARY blindly) than most politicians.


They have the power to save or destroy lives and cripple businesses with a single Tweet, Facebook or Instagram post. Is publicly accusing a for-profit company of misogyny, over a demonstrably unisex dress code, attached to a FREE benefit that they are under no legal obligation to even provide, really the best use of that power?

But I do have to agree with Arquette that the “CUSTOMER SERVICE’S JUDGEMENT WILL PREVAIL IN ALL MATTERS PERTAINING TO THE DRESS CODE” part of the policy should be appealable to a management level employee, and with Teigen on this …


Tony Marion is a writer and filmmaker who splits time between Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD. He lives for the work of Descendents (the band), Chuck Palahniuk and Rian Johnson. Check out the digital embodiment of procrastination he calls his website here.

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