Being a flight attendant is one of the most exciting career paths out there. You get to travel all over and see exciting and beautiful places while meetin
g new people every day. But what happens if you have tattoos, especially visible ones? Will this diminish your chances of landing a job with an airline? Let’s find out.
Can Flight Attendants Have Tattoes?
As a general rule, flight attendants are not permitted to have tattoos that are visible when in uniform. Some airline employers will allow the covering up of tattoos with bandages, band-aids, or makeup, but it is discouraged. In good news, as of 2021, policies around tattoo rules are slowly changing, with United Airlines and Alaska Airlines at the forefront.
Airline guidelines in terms of appearance
Every airline has a set of guidelines for their employee’s appearance. The reason for this is that flight attendants work directly with clients, making them the “face” of the company and its most visible representatives.
Back in the day, appearance standards were incredibly stringent, with flight attendants needing to weigh- and measure-in before work to ensure they met minimum body size requirements. Currently, these measures are slightly more relaxed, depending on the airline, although a certain level of presentability is still expected.
While appearance standards may sometimes seem less-than-inclusive, the onus lies with each airline as to what they expect from employees. Generally, these standards aren’t unreasonable but instead require a level of neatness and decorum that aligns with the airline’s brand.
Before applying for a position, do as much research as possible into the appearance standards of your prospective employers.
Should you be invited for an interview, assess if you can hide any tattoos and if they would remain hidden should your application be successful.
In a highly competitive industry, it’s never a good idea to lie to future employers, so if you are asked outright about tattoos, answer honestly. Simply reassure your interviewer that your tattoos will not be on display unless their policy allows it.
What constitutes a visible tattoo?
While this seems self-explanatory, there is sometimes confusion about what constitutes a visible tattoo. In airline terms, this refers to any tattoo that can be seen while an employee is in their airline uniform, on the hands, forearms, wrists, legs, face, or neck.
Therefore, it is okay to have discreet tattoos provided they cannot be seen in uniform or are well-covered with makeup.
On this note, you can also do some research into the different types or “versions” of uniforms that each airline has before applying for a job. Some have long sleeves, which are handy for covering arm tattoos, and some require long pants or leggings or stockings. Do your research, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you can get away with.
Companies with special provisos for visible tattoos
As of 2021, we are seeing, for the first time, some relaxation in the strict appearance standards that have long governed airlines.
Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have both recently updated their policies to be more inclusive of people with visible tattoos, provided they are small and subtle. Visible tattoos may also not be offensive in content, especially that of a racist, sexual, bigoted, obscene, or violent nature.
Alaska Airlines allows tattoos smaller than an employee’s badge (roughly the size of a business card or credit card), provided they are not on the neck, face, or hands.
United Airlines has a similar policy, allowing arm, leg, wrist, and ankle tattoos that are reasonably-sized and neutral in content.
How can flight attendants cover visible tattoos?
As mentioned, you may be able to cover smaller tattoos with parts of your standard-issue uniform, like a long-sleeve shirt. However, this is not always ideal, in which case you may need to default to an alternative coverage method like makeup.
These days, plenty of professional makeup is very high-quality and can hide a tattoo altogether. There is a risk of it rubbing off on your uniform, though, so make sure to do proper research when sourcing your products.
Some airlines, although the number is few, may permit you to cover small visible tattoos with a bandage or band-aid, but this is not the norm, nor is it encouraged.
Ultimately, if you intend to pursue a career as a flight attendant, it is best, for the time being, to avoid getting tattoos on visible areas of your body, at least until you have fulfilled your probationary period.
Can flight attendants have piercings?
Like tattoos, piercings are a form of body modification that doesn’t always align with airline appearance standards. Policies are more relaxed around piercings, but most companies still wish for their staff to have a conservative appearance.
To generalize, most airlines are okay with one piercing per lobe (both for males and females) but do not allow eyebrow, lip, tongue, or other facial piercings.
Do I need to have my tattoo removed to be a flight attendant?
Having a tattoo removed is a personal choice, so there is no hard or fast rule about having them removed if you plan to pursue a career as a flight attendant.
That being said, if you do happen to work for a company that does not permit visible tattoos and you don’t want to spend your life covering it up, this can be a viable option.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Just make sure you consult a professional who will be best equipped to remove your tattoo.
Frequently Asked Questions on whether flight attendants are allowed to have tattoos or not
Can flight attendants have colored hair?
A: Like tattoos and piercings, colored hair falls outside of the realm of almost all airlines’ appearance standards. At this stage, you’ll likely only see brunettes, blondes, redheads, or people with black hair gracing your cabins.
Does having tattoos diminish your job opportunities?
A: In 2022, we live in a more inclusive society than ever, particularly when it comes to appearance. These days, tattoos are neither taboo nor unusual, even in the workplace, and for most companies don’t present an issue unless they’re offensive in nature. Naturally, however, this does not apply to all jobs, and some career paths adhere to more conservative appearance standards, like, for example, airline cabin crew.
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