It has been a long-held standard that “customer facing” employees in the airline industry have very specific grooming standards and dress codes. The thought is to look clean, professional, polite, sleek, and authoritative. Every airline is different; over the years, there have been requirements that include:
- Tattoo concealment
- Weight and height requirements
- Hair style specifications
- Make up specifications
- Uniform specifications
- Piercing restrictions
Some airlines, especially new ones, have been shaking things up a bit to bring a more modern feel when it comes to the appearance guidelines of staff. The changes come as employees have been expressing a desire to have more flexibility in their uniform and appearance.
Play, is a new airline based out of Iceland. Their current routes are from Iceland to Europe and they plan to fly to the United States soon as well. Their uniforms are made for comfort and versatility. Including sneakers, t-shirts, sweatshirts and stretchy fabrics.
“Our cabin crew members tested out the comfortable attire during a recent photoshoot with karate kicks and yoga poses…” the airlines says,
“Forget running around in high heels – comfortable sneakers are the way to go. Instructions regarding hair, make up, tattoos and nail polish are gone. The uniforms are not gender specific, and our crew can pick whatever works for them from a varied selection of outfits.”
Aero K airlines, out of South Korea, showed their new uniforms last year in an Instagram post saying “Aero-K’s practical uniforms were created with consideration and respect to better perform various duties regardless of age and gender. After all, all these concerns are for carrying out the most important mission of passenger safety.” The uniforms were even featured on Vogue Korea’s Instagram page stating “…activity and convenience were emphasized.”
According to media reports, United Airlines informed employees this summer that September 2021 would bring changes to their dress code policies.
The changes include:
- Tattoos: all United employees will be able to display their visible tattoos, as long as they’re smaller than the size of their work badge.
- Hair Length: all United employees will be able to wear their hair down if it’s shoulder length or shorter.
- Nails: all United employees will be able to wear nail polish.
- Make Up: all United employees will be able to wear natural looking makeup.
If you’re curious, you can find United’s 2013 appearance standards here.
CNN reported on the changes in August 2021. The article says,
“The goal, according to United, is to allow employees to ‘feel welcome to be their authentic selves at work and celebrate their individuality, while also serving as ambassadors for our global United brand.’
For the aviation industry, however, these changes are a big deal. Virgin Atlantic, for example, allowed female air crew to swap skirts for trousers and go without makeup only in 2019.Meanwhile, British Airways still stipulates that men’s hair ‘must meet a conventional style which is appropriate for a professional environment; shaven or sculptured styles and long hair are not permitted.'”
What do you think about dress codes? What do you like or dislike about different airlines’ uniform policy? If you owned an airline, what would your grooming and dress code standards be and why? What would your uniforms say about your company?