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Scandinavian Airline SAS Becomes Latest Carrier to Let Flight Attendants Have Visible Tattoos and Wear Sneakers

Scandinavian Airline SAS Becomes Latest Carrier to Let Flight Attendants Have Visible Tattoos and Wear Sneakers

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Scandinavian airline SAS has become the latest European carrier to allow flight attendants and other frontline staffers to have visible tattoos and wear sneakers as part of an updated uniform policy designed to foster a “modern, inclusive and welcoming environment for all.”

The airline made the announcement on Monday, joining a small but growing list of carriers that have already ditched strict grooming guidelines that had remained largely unchanged for decades.

In May 2022, Virgin Atlantic became the first major airline in Europe to allow flight attendants to display visible tattoos in uniform as part of a policy shift that was partially designed to attract more candidates at a time when the carrier was on a mass hiring spree.

Two years before Virgin Atlantic’s tattoo policy was changed, Air New Zealand became the very first major carrier in the world to allow visible tattoos amongst uniform wearers. 

The Aotearoa flag carrier introduced the change primarily in order not to exclude workers who had Tā Moko – a traditional form of Māori tattooing.

In 2021, a Canadian labour arbitrator ruled that Air Canada could not bar uniform wearers from displaying visible tattoos as long as they weren’t offensive and didn’t cover the neck or face.

Along with the updated tattoo policy, SAS will also allow flight attendants to swap dress shoes for sneakers – another popular update that has also been introduced at several other European airlines, including Dutch flag carrier KLM and Madrid-based Iberia.

SAS is slowly emerging from bankruptcy protection after securing a private equity investment from a consortium of companies which includes the Air France-KLM Group.

As part of the takeover, SAS is slated to leave the Star Alliance and join the rival Sky Team alliance on September 1.

Matt’s take

The announcement from SAS to allow frontline staffers to display visible tattoos will no doubt have a fair number of critics who hark back to what they see as the golden era of flying when flight attendants were sacked if they deigned to get married or had a baby.

Whether some people like it or not, social norms are changing, and airlines have to catch up quickly with their uniform policies. We’ve seen some minor changes at a variety of carriers, such as British Airways, but it’s probably only a matter of time before more radical uniform updates are required.

View Comment (1)
  • FED UP with all these airlines runing the once smart and stylish look of their cabin crew by introducing dull, drab, cheap-looking uniforms. This annoying “Scruffy Trend” needs to STOP. What the hell are these airlines trying to do – take all glamour out of flying? Keep female cabin crew SMART.

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