The Australian flag carrier Qantas has relaxed some of its gender-based uniform and grooming rules, although the airline has stopped short of scrapping gender-specific uniforms altogether.
Female cabin crew will no longer have to wear makeup or high heels, while all crew will be allowed to have long hair worn in a ponytail or bun regardless of gender.
The uniform guidelines are contained within the airline’s internal grooming bible known as ‘Style on Q’. Critics claimed the style bible hadn’t been updated in years and no longer reflected the modern-day needs and values of Qantas employees.
Amongst reams of gender-specific rules within the bible was the edict that cabin crew had to wear a wristwatch while on duty. Female crew were, however, barred from wearing a watch with a large ‘masculine’ face.
That rule has now been ditched as part of the review and crew can wear a watch with any size face.
“Fashions change, and so have our style guidelines over the years,” a spokesperson for Qantas said on Friday after the updated grooming guidelines came to light. “We’re proud of our diversity as well as bringing our guidelines up to date,” the airline added.
Last year, the Australian Services Union criticised Qantas’ grooming guidelines, saying the airline needed to do more to promote a “diverse and inclusive” Australia.
In 2022, Virgin Atlantic completely ditched gender-based uniform rules, and crew members can now pick from the ‘red uniform’, which was previously the female Vivienne Westwood-designed uniform or the ‘burgundy uniform’, which was once the male uniform.
British Airways has also relaxed some gender-based uniform rules, although just like Qantas, the airline has maintained traditional gender-based garments.
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.