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United Flight Attendants Blast Management Decision to Run ‘Uniform Compliance’ Sweep While Operational Issues Get Put On Hold

United Flight Attendants Blast Management Decision to Run ‘Uniform Compliance’ Sweep While Operational Issues Get Put On Hold

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Flight attendants at United Airlines have told bosses that their time would be better spent helping to resolve “real-time and immediate issues” rather than concentrating on a so-called uniform compliance check program that will see managers diverted from operational issues to become ‘grooming and uniform police’.

The decision to carry out spot checks on flight attendants that might be flouting United’s uniform and grooming policy comes as the global aviation industry struggles to keep up with the demand for air travel this summer.

United Airlines has so far managed to swerve the kind of operational meltdowns that have hit rivals like Delta and JetBlue with just 23 cancelled flights and 102 delayed departures on the Tuesday following the Independence Day weekend.

But flight attendants represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) say managers need to be helping on the frontline during peak travel periods.

“Considering all of the other challenges we are facing on a daily basis in the height of one of the busiest periods of travel, the timing of this initiative is poor and suggests a management disconnect exists on the pulse of the Flight Attendant group,” the union told United late last week.

“We ask management to consider that the energy and resources being put into the uniform checks by local base management, during the “height of our travel season,” might not be put to better use.”

Even if United has so far swerved major disruptions, flight attendants say they are dealing with daily catering issues, crewing problems and other issues that require support and attention from base managers.

Those managers might not, however, be available to provide real-time assistance because they are tied up inspecting the appearance of flight attendants.

And during those inspections, they might find flight attendants not wearing their uniforms correctly because there is a low stock of certain items. New hire flight attendants are being sent out from training school without a full set of uniform and are instead resorting to swap boards to get hold of uniform.

Last year, United made major changes to its uniform and grooming policy, allowing flight attendants to show off visible tattoos while in uniform for the very first time.

The standards have also been rewritten to make them gender-neutral, allowing male staff to wear piercings, makeup and a variety of hairstyles that were previously banned. There is also no requirement for female crew to wear makeup if they don’t want to.

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.”

In principle, the flight attendant union says its members want to “meet uniform standards while looking and feeling our best”.

View Comments (3)
  • “Swerved” the operational issues? The minute United has any negative news, it’s dissected to pieces (like this). At least give credit where it’s due! United Airlines uniquely positioned itself to be in a position to maintain operational reliability through this challenging weekend while the other major airlines did not. You make it sound like they just “got lucky” and only canceled and delayed a fraction of the flights that everyone else did.

  • Best that United management remember the largest class action lawsuit filed by Northwest airline flight attendants back in the ’70s regarding appearance and issues related to what pursers had to wear versus what the flight attendants had to wear. Judge Bork, then one of the supreme Court judges, told NWA their appeals were no good and that the flight attendants had won. I know, I was one of those NWA flight attendants.

  • This has got to be the very best example of insane airline management I’ve ever seen. Use corporate resources to improve things, not to waste on watching what the FAs wear!

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