Lonely Planet Writer

Airlines are finally easing their rules on make-up and skirts for female flight attendants

Two major airlines recently announced that female air stewards are no longer required to wear make-up or skirts as part of their uniform. Virgin Atlantic and Aer Lingus made separate announcements last week and the shift in attitude has been welcomed by many who felt that the dress codes were outdated and restrictive.

Aer Lingus (pictured) and Virgin Atlantic flight attendants are no longer required to wear make-up and skirts. Image by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty

Historically, airlines have heavily regulated the appearance of female staff members but that’s changing with a widespread shift in attitude across the industry. Virgin Atlantic and Ireland’s national airline, Aer Lingus, announced last week that they’ve relaxed the rules around female flight attendants’ look and style. Previously both airlines required female staff members to wear make-up and skirts as part of the uniform. Now those rules have been dropped in favour of a more expressive and relaxed approach to dress codes.

Aer Lingus’ policy change is part of a brand refresh . As well as a new fleet of aircraft and facilities, the airline is introducing new uniforms later this year. Designed by renowned Irish fashion designer Louise Kennedy, in collaboration with airline staff, the new uniform collection will “reflect changing dress norms,” the airline said, and “better meet the needs” of their female cabin crew staff.

Aer Lingus flight attendants model a new uniform in 1975. Image by Independent News and Media/Getty

“The new uniform collection incorporates a range of wearer options including a trouser option for females and an ability to combine collection elements,” an airline spokesperson told Lonely Planet Travel News. “Aer Lingus uniform staff guidelines for the new uniform are currently being completed, but Aer Lingus can confirm that these will not include mandatory use of make-up.”

Virgin Atlantic shared its new dress code guidelines on Monday, stating that make-up is no longer mandatory for female staff but they can wear lipsticks and foundations from the existing colour palette approved in the company’s guidelines if they wish to. Trousers, which were previously only supplied upon special request, will now be available to both male and female crew members as part of the uniform selection.

Virgin Atlantic has relaxed their dress code for female flight attendants. Image by Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty

“We want our uniform to truly reflect who we are as individuals while maintaining that famous Virgin Atlantic style,” Mark Anderson, an executive vice president with the company, said in a statement. “We have been listening to the views of our people and as a result have announced some changes to our styling and grooming policy that support this.”

They’re not the only airlines making changes. Last year, Hong Kong carrier lifted their 70-year old requirement that female staff members wear short skirts after pressure from Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants Association. The union said staff had expressed concern that the skirts were too short and uncomfortable to wear, especially on public transport. British Airways also dropped the mandatory skirt rule in 2016.

Read More: Marvel at the amazing and outlandish history of flight uniforms