British Airways told employees on Wednesday that it will significantly loosen its traditionally strict and prescriptive uniform rules and wants the refreshed guidance to be “embraced by everyone regardless of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, background, culture, sexual identity, or otherwise”.
Last month, the Heathrow-based airline was said to be nearing the end of a comprehensive review of its uniform policy which had taken into consideration recent headline-grabbing changes introduced by rival Virgin Atlantic.
On Wednesday, an internal memo implored staff to “be bold, be proud, be yourself”, as the airline unveiled its eagerly awaited new uniform guidance, although BA will retain a ban on visible tattoos and make and female gender-specific uniforms will also be retained.
Male cabin crew, pilots and other uniform wearers have been told that a “touch of mascara and lip colour” could be great to enhance their features and that false eyelashes help to add volume, although crew have been implored not to go overboard.
Once strict rules on hairstyles have also been loosened and all staff, regardless of gender or gender identity, can now wear a handbag.
Last month, a spokesperson for the airline said it was “committed to an inclusive working environment” and had been working on a full review of uniform guidelines.
BA’s quiet introduction of gender-neutral uniform guidelines is very different to Virgin Atlantic’s star-studded announcement that it was making its traditional male and female uniform gender-neutral.
Virgin Atlantic now had a ‘red’ uniform which features a skirt and a ‘burgandy’ uniform which is a three-piece suit.
In recent months, the airline also dropped a ban on uniform wearers from displaying visible tattoos. Chief executive Shai Weiss said last week that applications to join the airline as cabin crew have surged by 100 per cent following its decision in September to scrap traditional gender-based uniform rules.
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.
To be honest, it’s kind of understandable. I’m guessing it’s so it’ll keep professionalism.
Can the women flight attendants wear flannel shirts?
As a passenger I find some of these things changes in appearance completely repulsive. If someone wants to display tattoos on their bodies that is their right but don’t force me to watch. To me tattoos are associated with gangs, drugs, and unclean hygiene.
I think the main room for flight attendants on aircraft is safety. To properly lead an evacuation they must be recognized and respected. I would have a very hard time following the instructions of someone who might appear male but is wearing makeup, false eye lashes, earrings, and carrying a purse.
The purpose of a dress code is to establish uniform continuity. It is a means of identification and authority. When you destroy that, all you have is a bunch of misfits on an airplane.