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Can Cabin Crew Have Tattoos? The Rules, Policy and Exceptions

Can Cabin Crew Have Tattoos? The Rules, Policy and Exceptions

Airlines Vs. Tattoos - Can Cabin Crew Have Tattoos? The Rules & Policy - Do Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, British Airways allow cabin crew / flight attendants to have tattoos?

It seems like everyone has a tattoo nowadays.  Our attitude towards tattoos has become a lot more accepting in the last ten years.  But the majority of global airlines – including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and British Airways still have very strict Cabin Crew tattoo policies.

Go back a couple of decades and it was rare to see anyone with a tattoo.  Getting yourself inked was a symbol of belonging to a special group – the military, a gang or some other niche group in society.

In recent years, however, tattoos have become increasingly accepted.  In the USA, nearly a quarter (24%) of Americans have a tattoo.  The United Kingdom isn’t far behind with around 19% of the population sporting a tattoo.

For young people, those figures are even higher.  In America, 32% of 18-45-year-olds have at least one tattoo.  And whilst having a tattoo is still considered a taboo in some countries, the overall trend is towards acceptance and appreciation.

But there is one area that hasn’t caught up with this change in attitudes – Research has consistently shown that employers – and especially airlines – discriminate against prospective candidates who have tattoos.  In a study carried out by Kings College London, researchers concluded that “tattoos are still considered unacceptable in many workplaces.”

Most airlines have very strict guidelines when it comes to their Cabin Crew tattoo policy.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have any tattoos but ones that are ‘visible’ will normally stop you becoming a flight attendant.  The Cabin Crew tattoo rules for some of the major tattoos are summarised below:

Where are Cabin Crew allowed (and not allowed) to have tattoos?

Check this image to see whether cabin crew for major airlines like Emirates, Etihad, flydubai, British Airways, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic cannot have tattoosMost airlines don’t allow their Cabin Crew to have any visible tattoos in the red coloured areas.

Are Emirates Cabin Crew Allowed to have tattoos?

The simple answer is yes, Emirates have the same policy as many international airlines and allow Cabin Crew to have tattoos as long as they are not visible when wearing the airline uniform.

Other airlines with the same policy include Etihad Airways, flydubai, Air Arabia, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar.

What does ‘visible tattoos’ mean?

This depends on your gender and the airline uniform.  However, ‘visible’ parts of the body can be generalised as follows…

Female:

  • Head and neck
  • Top of the arms down to hands and wrists
  • Top of knees down to ankles and feet.

Male:

  • Head and neck
  • Top of arms down to hands and wrists

If the tattoo is not completely covered by the uniform then it is ‘visible’.

Also, bear in mind that even if you have a tattoo on an area that is not ‘visible’ – such as your back or chest – the airline might still make you comply with extra rules.  A lot of airlines have white uniform shirts and tattoos would be visible underneath.  You’ll, therefore, be expected to wear a white undershirt.

Can I just cover a visible tattoo?

Covering a visible tattoo with a bandage, plaster or makeup is not allowed.  If you have a tattoo (no matter how small) in one of the areas outlined above, most airlines will not allow you to become Cabin Crew with them.

If you have a really small tattoo on your ankle or wrist then it might be tempting to keep it secret and hope no one finds out.  Please don’t try to do this – If the airline discovers the tattoo they will most likely terminate your contract immediately.

The Middle East airlines do still physically examine new joiners and tattoos will be found.  You’ll then be expected to pay your own airfare home and repay all the costs associated with hiring you.

Are there any exceptions?

Some airlines will allow Cabin Crew to have arm tattoos if they can be covered up.  You’ll need to wear a long-sleeved undershirt and long-sleeved uniform shirt at all times.

You should check with your chosen airline to see if they allow this.  The airline will need to see photos of your tattoos to see if they comply with their rules.  An arm tattoo that reaches all the way down to the wrist will not normally be accepted.

Does Qatar Airways allow Cabin Crew to have tattoos?

No.  Qatar Airways does not allow Cabin Crew to have any tattoos – whether visible or not.  The State of Qatar follows a strict interpretation of Islam and tattoos are considered Haram (forbidden).  As a state-owned company, Qatar Airways does not hire flight attendants with any tattoos.

What if I have my visible tattoos removed?

Even with the implications on future employment opportunities, most people don’t regret having a tattoo.  In one recent survey, only 14% of British adults with a tattoo regretted it.

But if you decide that you would rather pursue a career a flight attendant then you might consider having your tattoo removed.  Don’t be tempted to buy chemical home removal kits.  These are sometimes sold as quick and painless creams and gels but have been linked to severe burns and can result in permanent scarring.

Instead, invest in a professional and reputable laser removal service.  We spoke with the folks at ‘Ink Revoke Tattoo Removal’ in Colorado to find out more about tattoo removal costs and what you should expect.  “Effective and safe removal of professional tattoos requires between 7 and 12 laser treatments,” explained a spokesperson.

He continued: “Per treatment pricing can range between $50 and $500, depending on the size and complexity of the tattoo.”

As long as the tattoo removal is completely finished and you are scar free then you should face no barriers.

View Comments (10)
  • Hello and thanks for your article 🙂
    Do you maybe know why Qatar airways does not mention anywhere the No tattoo policy?
    In this way it stays like a secret and we are not 100% sure about it.
    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Eliza,
      Thanks for your question.
      There are many things about the Qatar Airways recruitment process that isn’t made publicly available by the airline. Unfortunately, this secrecy can make it a very confusing process to go through. Even asking a question at a Qatar Airways Assessment Day is no guarantee that you’ll receive the ‘only’ answer. However, the ‘no tattoo’ policy does still stand `(although we are aware of some people who have got away with small, discrete tattoo’s that they covered very well). It’s best to always confirm any concerns you have with Qatar Airways should you be selected. I hope this helps.

  • My heart has broked… I have my girlfriend name in my wrist who left me and arsenal logo … But I will gather money and try to remove it. I have full motivation and dedication to become a cabin crew in Qatar,emirates and etihad. 🙁

    • Depending on high close to your hand the tattoo is, there are some European airlines that would allow you to wear a long sleeve t-shirt and shirt as an appropriate cover. However, unfortunately, the position of your tattoo would be a no-no at Middle East carriers. I wish you the very best of luck!

  • I’m gonna apply to Qatar airline in January 2018 in Japan. But according to the job advertisement of Qatar in Japan that they say “you can apply if your tattoos are invisible when you wear the uniform” . But this article says “Qatar Airways does not allow Cabin Crew to have any tattoos – whether visible or not”…. I am confused… which one is correct??

    • Hello and a Happy New Year,
      Can you tell me where you saw this job ad? We aren’t aware of Qatar Airways organising any recruitment events in Japan at the moment. As it is, QR cabin crew working and living in Qatar are not permitted to have tattoos.

      • Hi happy new year!!
        Well, the job ad is on the website of an airline school in Japan (everything is in Japanese though) according to the school that the one is a formal adoption affiliated school of Qatar airways. They are looking for people who have Japanese nationality at the moment. And one of the conditions for applying of Qatar airways that “no tattoos on any visible places” so I thought that I can apply if it’s invisible when I wear the uniform… they don’t say “tattoos does not allowed” just say “no tattoos on any visible places”…. that’s why I am confused:(

        • Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We tried to find out more about this but unfortunately, we didn’t have much luck. Direct applicants shouldn’t have any tattoos, so it’s really interesting that this might be possible through the Japenese recruitment agents. We would suggest you discuss your concerns directly with the agent. If you find out, please let us know as this is a really interesting development.

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