Plus, “non-revs,” short for “non-revenue,” are subjected to a dress code, which only they can access on the United website with a password; it’s not publicly available.United’s code bans, among many other things, form-fitting and lycra/spandex clothing, or anything inappropriately revealing. Non-revs are perceived as a kind of unidentified representative of the airline, sometimes known only to the flight crew. Pass Riders — even a ten-year-old child — are treated more like United employees than members of the public.Was a United employee a little overzealous in this case? Probably. But denying boarding to Pass Riders was within the employee’s discretion. Airline employees have a lot of discretion, if you haven’t noticed.When it comes to non-revenue passengers, airlines have even more discretion. The airline, at its sole discretion, may cancel pass travel privileges for conduct deemed “detrimental” to United.In this case, people on Twitter simply didn’t understand the Pass Rider system, and instead saw what they wanted to see: a nationwide ban on yoga pants, or misogynist, ageist policies of discrimination against women and children. And just like that, an outrage was born.Frankly, the real controversy should be more about improving dress code standards on airplanes, not relaxing them. Have you flown lately? People are allowed on planes barefoot and shirtless these days.Where’s the Twitter outrage when that happens?If you want to push a candle through a paper plate and hold a vigil, protesting the bare-chested old guy in the exit row is a noble cause. There’s no reason to erupt over a dress code that is part of an agreed-upon contract between airline and Pass Rider. All the airline is trying to do is raise the standards of those under its control. The general public should try to do the same.
The moral of the story: Suspend judgment and outrage until the facts are gathered.