- United’s flight attendants are not allowed to wear Santa hats and festive antlers
- Holiday aprons and Christmas jumpers have also been banned
- They can wear one accessory which is in “good taste”
- Flight attendant charity sells “conservative” holiday accessories for a good cause
Bah, humbug. Scrooge has made an appearance at United Airlines where flight attendants have been told they are forbidden from wearing traditional festive accessories in the run up to Christmas.
Santa hats are expressly forbidden and so too are reindeer antlers and the humble Christmas jumper. Flight attendants have also been warned that wearing their own Christmas themed apron is off bounds as well.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents United’s 22,000 cabin crew, has told it’s members that they shouldn’t wear anything that might detract from their “professional image as Safety Professionals.”
The only relief for flight attendants who do want to get in the festive spirit is a small waiver that allows them to wear one “conservative” holiday accessory.
For female staffers, examples include a holiday-themed scarf, earrings or necklace. Themed socks are also allowed but only if wearing trousers.
For male flight attendants, the rules are even more stringent, with only a conservative holiday tie, pin or festive socks permitted.
And by conservative, what United means is no flashing lights, glitter or slogans. Instead, AFA suggests flight attendants source their accessories from the CAUSE flight attendant charity, with bright candy cane ties and scarves in keeping with the regulations.
The advantage of that idea, of course, is that all proceeds go to a great cause.
The accessories can be worn throughout the month of December but it’s not known whether United might ease its restrictions for flight attendants who have to work on Christmas Day itself.
The attitude at United is certainly a lot different than at American Airlines where flight attendant routinely wear holiday aprons and other accessories in the run up to Christmas. In fact, it’s a tradition that’s becoming a lot more commonplace.
Last year, Virgin Atlantic gifted flight attendants a Christmas jumper each and plans to do the same this year as well. Sadly, they can only be worn onboard on Christmas Day itself. Alaska Airlines has also taken to the Christmas jumper tradition in a big way.
Meanwhile, even Emirates allows its cabin crew to wear accessories like reindeer antlers and Santa hats… but again, only on the big day itself.
What do you think? Are these regulations for United’s flight attendant unfair or have they struck the right balance?
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.