Two years before Twitter escalated a public relations fight between United Airlines and three girls wearing leggings, a Northern Virginia resident said she was also kept off a United flight, unaware of a dress code for a special program offered by the carrier.

MORE: Two girls denied entry on United flight for wearing leggings, witness reports

The young women were all United pass travelers, allowing the airline’s employees and family members to fly for free. United said Monday it requires all passengers under the program to represents the company in proper attire, banning spandex leggings, ripped jeans, and swimwear.

“I had no idea the rule existed,” said Fairfax resident Anna Norwood in an interview. “Because I didn’t have proper clothes to change into at the gate, I missed my flight, and had to spend three extra days away from home.”

Norwood said she was responsible for finding a hotel room until she left on her re-booked flight, an unforeseen expense costing more than $1,000.

“I put on a dress from my luggage, and the gate agent said that was not appropriate,” Norwood said. “She told me the top of my dress was too low-cut, so I put a shirt on top of that. I felt ridiculous.”

In statements provided on Twitter and sent to media outlets, United vehemently defended the move.

“These are relatives or friends who also receive the benefit of free or heavily discounted air travel – on our airline as well as on airlines around the world where we have mutual agreements in place for employees and pass riders,” a spokesperson said.

“When taking advantage of this benefit, 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.”