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Cabin Crew and Pilots at Dutch Flag Carrier Are Now Allowed to Wear Sneakers to Work and the Airline Even Has its Own Branded Shoes

Cabin Crew and Pilots at Dutch Flag Carrier Are Now Allowed to Wear Sneakers to Work and the Airline Even Has its Own Branded Shoes

a man and woman wearing blue suits

Cabin crew, pilots and ground staff at Dutch flag carrier KLM will soon be allowed to wear sneakers to work as part of an initiative to improve employee wellbeing at the Amsterdam-based airline.

From May 6, staffers will either be allowed to wear their own sneakers, so long as they comply with certain appearance standards, or they can buy a special pair of KLM branded shoes that have been designed in collaboration with shoemaker Filling Pieces.

KLM ran a pilot program last year and, following positive feedback, decided to relax its uniform and grooming rules, noting that a growing number of other airlines already allow their cabin crew to wear sneakers to work.

In Europe, several high-profile airlines have sneaker options for cabin crew, including Spanish flag carrier Iberia, which offers a pair of black sneakers with the Iberia logo featured on the back.

Last year, Finnair also started to allow cabin crew to ditch high-heels and dress shoes for a pair of specially designed sneakers. Explaining the decision, Finnair said it wasn’t unusual for a flight attendant to walk up to five kilometres during a 12-hour flight.

Germany’s Eurowings also allows cabin crew to wear sneakers onboard flights on certain days, while other airlines, including Japan’s Zipair, Iceland’s Play and Ukraine’s Skyup, allow cabin crew to wear sneakers all the time.

Willeke van den Boomgaard, a senior purser at KLM took part in the sneaker trial and said it was a “great pleasure” to now be allowed to wear sneakers as part of her everyday look.

“They give me a good start towards a good flight,” Willeke said.

Matt’s take

Allowing cabin crew to wear sneakers is really catching on as a trend across European airlines and is no longer confined to low-cost airlines looking to differentiate themselves from legacy carriers.

Flag carrier airlines have been associated with their stringent uniform standards, with very specific rules about makeup, hair, and the kinds of shoes that staff are allowed to wear.

Times are, however, quickly changing, and we’ve seen a lot of airlines relaxing their uniform standards in line with shifting societal norms. Nowadays, many airlines no longer force female crew to wear makeup or high-heels, while several airlines, such as Virgin Atlantic and United, also allow crew to display visible tattoos.

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