Nearly 5,000 flight attendants at American Airlines have complained of skin reactions and other health complaints after the carrier introduced its first new uniform in 25-years in September 2016. The fiasco has been a big thorn in the side of the Dallas Forth Worth-based airline ever since, with flight attendants reporting they had suffered hives, rashes and breathing difficulties as a result of wearing the new uniform.
While chemical testing of the garments remains inconclusive (the flight attendant union disagrees with the results published by the airline), American did agree to a number of interim measures while a longterm solution could be implemented.
Since March 2017, flight attendants have been allowed to either wear their old pre-2016 uniform or even buy off-the-rack alternatives instead of wearing the company-issued uniform. That stopgap policy, however, is going to come to an end on March 1, 2020 when the latest iteration in American’s flight attendant uniform is rolled out.
The change in policy was leaked by Twitter user JonNYC (@xJonNYC) who has a good reputation in sharing internal developments at the airline. A memo, reportedly sent to staffers, say’s there will be “no more mixing and matching uniform collections, no variations of grays and blues, and no alternative uniform options,” once the new uniform is rolled out.
American Airlines has been working with workwear manufacturer Lands’ End since last year to develop the new look and claims it has “gone above and beyond to ensure the highest levels of garment safety.”
The full memo reads:
“As we look forward, we’re a matter of months away from launching our new Lands’ End uniform program. Ordering kicks off in late October, giving team members time to order their new uniform, receive items and determine if exchanges or alterations are needed before March 1, 2020 – the day we will all be able to proudly wear the new Aviation Blue uniforms as one team.
Getting to this point has been a journey. We’ve spent the last two years creating an industry-leading uniform program you can be proud of an feel confident wearing. The new uniforms have been developed and tested with an unprecedented level of team member and union leader input and feedback every step of the way. Together, we’ve gone above and beyond to ensure the highest levels of garment safety. Each garment will be STANDARD 100 certified by OEKO-TEX, which is something no other airline uniform program can boast. On top of all this, and for the first time ever, you will have a choice between two suiting fabric options (standard and synthetic) when ordering to ensure you have a uniform made from the fabric that best suits you. After all, this is your uniform.
With that in mind, all team members will be expected to wear the Lands’ End uniform when they come to work beginning March 1. No more mixing and matching uniform collection, no variations of grays and blues, and no alternate options. For American’s customers, we are the face of the airline, and it’s time we reclaim our image as the most professional, most caring and most dedicated airline.”
The redesigned uniforms will be produced in a shade of blue called Parisian Blue. Cobalt colored detailing on the cuffs has been swapped out for a deep shade of red, while neck scarfs will now feature a plaid design. Several hundred flight attendants have been wear testing the new uniform for several months, although a new signature dress won’t be revealed until next year.
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.