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United Airlines Will Allow Flight Attendants to Have Visible Tattoos and More Piercings in Updated Grooming Rules

United Airlines Will Allow Flight Attendants to Have Visible Tattoos and More Piercings in Updated Grooming Rules

United Airlines Investigating Flight Attendants for Selling Sought After Trips to Colleagues

United Airlines plans big changes to its appearance and grooming standards for flight attendants and other frontline uniform-wearing employees beginning September 1, 2021. Included in the changes is the decision to allow visible tattoos for the first time in the company’s history, as well as a slew of other gender-neutral changes that will empower United flight attendants to be their authentic selves.

In the works for the last few years, the initial rollout of the updated appearance standards will apply just to flight attendants and customer service representatives with pilots and ramp service employees likely to follow at some point in 2022.

Image credit: United Airlines

United told employees that it hopes the newly relaxed policy will “reflect a more modernized look, with inclusive standards that better permit freedom of gender expression so that employees can feel their best at work,” Simple Flying reported.

One of the biggest changes will be allowing front line employees to display visible, non-offensive tattoos. Other changes include allowing staffers, including male crew, to wear a variety of visible piercings such as nose studs.

Grooming standards will also be altered to do away with separate rules on hair, makeup and nail polish for men, women, non-binary and gender non-conforming employees.

In one picture shared with employees in an internal memo, United revealed how these standards might work: showing a male flight attendant with colored nail polish, a flight attendant with a nose stud and several ear piercings and a crew member with a wrist tattoo.

Kate Gebo, United’s executive vice president of human resource said of the changes: “As the face of United, our customer-facing teammates can provide an even better experience for our customers when they look and feel their best.”

“We’ve spent the last several years listening to the feedback we’ve received from our employees and our Business Resource Groups to develop these revised standards. We’re confident that these modernized and more gender-inclusive appearance standards will provide a more authentic representation of the people and cultures that make United the company it is today.”

Last month, Air Canada had a visible tattoo ban struck down by an employment judge who ruled the policy was discriminatory and not reflective of wider society. Air New Zealand already allows its crew members to have visible tattoos, while new Icelandic airline PLAY will allow visible tattoos, alongside a gender neutral uniform.

View Comments (8)
  • The problem with this sort of thing is who or what defines “non-offensive”? Is a pro-Trump tattoo offensive? How about pro-Abortion or anti-Muslim or Pro-Muslim? MAGA hat anyone. It would be like saying “tastefully”. This is an attempt to be relevant, virtue signal, and likely to placate certain employees or union members it seems. Why don’t they just come out and announce that all lavatories on planes are gender-neutral? I really could care very little about all this as long as the service and qualifications are in place but I’d rather they spend their time getting rid of mask requirements with the CDC on those super clean HEPA filtered planes they sold us on using last year.

  • I’d rather not have my flight attendant or my pilot look like they have just gotten out of prison. This makes me uncomfortable and I’m sure I won’t be the only one.

    With that said, perhaps this will help normalize these sorts of personal expressions and change their perception in society. Perhaps this will help change my, and many others, feelings on the matter. I suppose I can fly with this.

  • They really think that this will let them serve customers better, are you kidding me? Now you get to be treated like shit by someone who looks like shit. What happened to getting dressed up professionally and tastefully for work or anywhere for that matter. I mean Do we really have to change appearance policies for the few who are eunuchs?

  • Wrong on so many levels …. Creating more racism and division. Letting others “express” themselves with non-“uniform clothing”, jewelry, accessories, piercings, tattoos, ethnic piled-high hairdos, lipstick and blue nail polish on men is not making millions of people suddenly think how “woke” or inclusive United is. United, stop trying to be the coolest kid on the block and…. you’ll soon run out of safe places for your groups of employees who choose to scream “victim” every day of their lives, working or not. Go express yourselves in your local pub, hangout, club or on your days off. As well, they’ll be senior employees or those of a certain “older” age group who will continue to look clean, pressed, organized and serious about working versus another group who will not only look different but have the attitude and drama on top of everything else to “express” as they swish and sashay through airplane cabin aisles and terminals. United and other airlines that will soon follow with this nutty idea will continue to be the laughing stock of the industry.
    A mental picture is worth a thousand words — a few years ago while walking through an international terminal, coming towards me were about 16 China Airlines cabin and cockpit crew members, (men) suited, women in belted pencil skirts, jackets and blouses, pressed, crisp , makeup, hats – they were all head turning (men and women), which of course would be just the opposite of United who is also considering complaints of FA’s to eliminate even low heeled shoes, no hose, etc., ….. what a CLASSLESS act, United – you’re in serious need of new management instead of pandering to employees who need to be so casually comfortable and “safe” 24/7.

  • I think United would be better off weeding out this kind of trailer trash, ex conn, drug induced riff raff from their employee roster instead of encouraging it. As for the piled high ethnic hair it is disgusting when a chunk of it lands in your food or drink. To the idiots who want to dress or express themselves this way I hope you stay at your entry level positions you don’t deserve to move up the ranks without looking the part.

    • You are right ……but they will move up the ranks, right next to the people just like them and already working in Human Relations and the hiring department and every other aspect of United. Am I saying there can be no diversity?…. no, but to apply another level of “expression”, “culture” to the point of outward appearance and lump it in with “diversity” is totally unnecessary. They are pandering to only a certain group, age group, “woke” group or whatever new buzzword group comes along. ….. none of which is relevant to doing a job with care and good appearance. They are creating divisive groups and divisive thinking within their own ranks – this will be a source or irritation, annoyance and discord which certainly doesn’t make any machine run smoothing. Many employees don’t like this, don’t want it and they will “shun” those that feel they need all the attention, handholding and coddling…. a recipe for disaster when teamwork is needed and people need to be on the same page but you can’t stand looking at him/her/it because they flaunt their attitude and “flair” all day long. What a mess, …. I hope they (United) lives to regret it .. bigtime.

  • As a business owner I find that to be in very poor decision making and in taste. Instead of raising the standards they are in my opinion lowering them to make the employees “gender expression so that employees can feel their best at work,” Simple Flying reported” and that is ridiculous. Employees can and should perform their work and dues regardless of gender, race, creed and so on. As the one replier said “The problem with this sort of thing is who or what defines “non-offensive?” there will be more problems then ever and poor return on decision made. The example I like to bring up is when you are at work or traveling and you need to use the restroom. Well if it is clean and tidy you have no problem visiting the restroom. But dirty and filthy your out the door looking for another place to go. Buc-ees Beaver has made that number one in their company and have a cult like following. What else these employees do not understand and see coming is they will not be getting raises. Because for travelers like myself will be looking for new airline company which will eventually equal lost revenue for United Airlines equals no raises. There is no excuse not to have First Class Employees regardless of industry but in airline industry is inexcusable! Also had a good friend of mine son apply for a job position at the former EDS back when Ross Perot was still hands on and running the company. The reason my friends son got the position was Mr. Perot did his back ground check on him and found him to be very good employee at his other company and managed finances well. Which for the sake of discussion made him a B+ employee. While the other applicant is an A employee due to attending & graduating Ivy League School, showed off his so called success by clothes, jewelry, cars, and house. Which Mr. Perot found not in his favor because he was living paycheck to paycheck. If he could not manage his on finances how in the world was he going to manage EDS finances. So when that flight attendant is passing out munchies and refreshments you better hope they washed their hands and pinned back their hair from falling into your items.

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