In a historic decision, Hong Kong’s largest airline, Cathay Pacific has made the decision to allow its female cabin crew to ditch the standard uniform skirt and instead wear trousers. Female flight attendants at the airline have been expected to wear a skirt since Cathay’s creation way back in 1946.
The current female uniform consists of a just above the knee black skirt with two slits at the back. More senior flight attendants can wear a longer ankle length skirt with a large slit at the side. Sources, however, have said it might take up to three-years before the new option to wear trousers is actually introduced.
Cathay’s decision to introduce a choice for its female flight attendants came after a long campaign from a union which represents staff at sister airline, Cathay Dragon. The call to revamp the uniform was recently picked up by the main Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union who said they could back industrial action if the rules weren’t changed.
Speaking to the South China Morning Press, Vera Wu Yee-mei of the CPAFU said it was time to “revamp our image.”
“The stereotype of the flight attendant is a very old-style already: looking pretty, full make-up and wearing a skirt.”
The rule change has been welcomed by both unions who collectively represent nearly 10,000 flight attendants. The decision comes at a time
when the issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault hits the headlines through the #MeToo movement.
Flight attendants say that forcing female staff to wear skirts is a barrier to equality and can encourage sexual harassment. A recent survey found that three-quarters of flight attendants had suffered some kind of sexual harassment in the last 12-months alone.
So what are the rules for other major airlines? The SCMP says that both Korean Air and Asiana Airlines from South Korea stand out as Asian airlines which allow female cabin crew to wear trousers. Whereas, it’s fairly common for U.S.-based flight attendants and those in Europe to have the choice – but it’s not always been that way.
Here’s how the rules have evolved over the last few years (and which airlines need to rethink their policies)…
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Check out our list of the Top Ten Cabin Crew Uniforms for 2018.