Last year, United Airlines announced it would start developing new uniforms for its 70,000+ uniformed employees. The airline said it would partner with Brooks Brothers and Tracy Reese to create a new look for its flight attendants and customer service agents. Meanwhile, Carharrt were commissioned to develop uniforms for ‘under wing’ employees like engineers and baggage handlers.
United also partnered with premium luggage makers, Tumi to become the official luggage provider for the airlines 24,000 flight attendants. In the last couple of months, the airline’s flight attendants have started to use their new Tumi cases and bags. The uniform project, however, is still a work in progress.
At the beginning of this month, employee representatives from across United attended an event in San Francisco to get a sneak peek at how the uniform design work was coming along. It was an opportunity to preview various uniform garments and share feedback before a wear test programme starts later this year.
Employees were given an opportunity to touch, see and even take photos of the new uniform. They weren’t, however, meant to post photos of the uniform on any public forums – yet that’s exactly what happened, with leaked photos appearing on an internal Facebook group for United employees.
The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents many United flight attendants, said it was “disappointing” to learn of the leak. They say the garments on show were not the final uniform pieces and the test garments didn’t reflect the final fit or color.
The union says many flight attendants have taken what they saw online out of context – believing, mistakenly, that the images were the final uniform.
The airline says they intend to create “comfortable, durable and fashionable uniforms” with the help of designer Tracy Reese and America’s oldest apparel company, Brooks Brothers.
Reese has been designing “joyful, feminine pieces in signature rich colors and unique prints for the modern woman” for the past two decades. She has previously described her role in the project as bringing some added “flair” to the United Airlines look.
United will be keen to avoid the mistakes of American Airlines, which has been accused of providing its flight attendants with sub-standard uniforms which caused allergic reactions including hives, rashes and migraines.
American is currently in the process of redesigning its uniform with different materials. On May 29th, Delta Air Lines is also set to launch a brand new uniform, designed by New York-based Zac Posen. The Delta uniform took three years to create and involved over 1,000 wear testers.
What do you think of United’s new-look uniform? Let us know in the comments below…
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.