British Airways officially launched a brand-new uniform for the first time in more than 20 years last week, but it has now been revealed that some cabin crew and airport employees will continue to wear old and dated threads from the former look due to a botched rollout.
Designed by British Ghanian Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng, the new uniform was finally unveiled in January, more than three years later than planned after the pandemic added a lengthy delay to the project.
Since then, British Airways has been working on rolling out the uniform to tens of thousands of front-line staff, but despite giving itself a generous 10-month window to do so, the airline has failed to get enough of the new look garments out to everyone who needs it.
It’s understood that BA bosses hoped to get all cabin crew and customer service ground staff to switch to the new Ozwald Boateng uniform on the same day last week, but it became apparent last month that this wasn’t going to be possible.
British Airways was forced to seek approval from aviation regulators to have cabin crew in two totally different types of uniform onboard its flights and the Civil Aviation Authority initially gave the airline a 10-day grace period to complete the rollout.
But with supply chain issues still delaying the rollout, BA has now been forced to go back to the CAA and asked for the grace period to be extended even further. Now, cabin crew and ground staff could be wearing the Julien Macdonald pinstripe uniform until the end of October while they wait for their new look garments.
Staffers who ordered the world’s first airline jumpsuit for flight attendants will have to wait even longer, as this garment had to be significantly changed after real-world testing was completed and won’t be ready to be delivered until the end of the year.
Even once they receive their new uniform, however, that might not be the end of the problems. Cabin crew who are already wearing the new items have complained of a slew of issues, including sore red rashes around their necks from where the high-collared uniform is rubbing.
Others have complained about the poor quality of the new uniform, although British Airways says the entire wardrobe has been rigorously tested and that hundreds of staff were involved in the development of the uniform.
No doubt, though, that the airline will be closely monitoring feedback to see whether some of the complaints are just teething problems or a sign of a bigger issue.
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.