November 4, 2009

Flight Attendant Style

Browsing the web this morning (due to finally reaching my boredom threshold with work-related reading, I admit it!) I happened upon some photos of flight attendants in the US. What I find really interesting is the difference between the grooming rules there, and how strict the airlines here in Australia are.

For example, one of the photos (found on Google search) showed two FAs doing a service, and the interesting thing to me was that they have their hair down. Many other American FAs have commented to me that they're allowed to have their hair down. Even one of our famous FA bloggers, Heather Poole, has some photos on her site where the ladies have their long-ish hair down. (BTW I think Heather has beautiful wavy hair that I'm very jealous of!!) :P

Here in Australia female FAs are restricted in how they may wear their hair. Generally, if your hair is longer than your collar or touches your shoulders, it has to be up. The most common options are: French roll, chignon/bun or ponytail/plait. If it's worn in a ponytail or plait, it must be 30cms or shorter once tied back, or it has to be completely 'up'.

Etihad FAs show how up-dos are done.

There's also rules about the kinds of hairties you can have. (Plain black, brown or blonde elastics) either covered with a clip, ponytailer shield (in black or tortoise) or a black ribbon tied in a bow. Some crew use hair donuts

but I think they look RIDICULOUS because most girls use one which is too large, you're meant to pick a small one because it gets bigger when your hair goes over it. Also, the idea is to pin the 'edges' of the donut to your head, not just the hair ends, or it looks as though, well, you have a donut stuck on your head!! :P Kind of like some Virgin Atlantic crew I saw in London, who had the donuts up next to their ears. So not classy!

Another difference I've noticed is during discussions about crew shoes (yes, we'll talk about ANYTHING!!!) While were allowed to wear flats in-flight (only after take-off), they cannot be either a) totally flat like a ballet shoe or b) have any straps, be clogs etc. They have to be something like this:

Our other shoes have to be a court shoe, leather no patent, with heels which are a certain height & width.

There's not much scope for personal choice here. No stilettos either, though I do try and push the rules a bit. My 'tarty' shoes LOOK like stilettoes from the side, but actually are a standard wide court heel. Yay for illusion, they look so much better with the uniform than blocky shoes. My other shoe hate is court shoes which are too blocky. Makes girls look like those chickens with the feathers covering their feet!

Rules also cover things like what kind of watch we can have, the size of our earrings (no dangling earrings here!) width of bracelets, nail polish colour, makeup style, what kind of makeup to have (minimium of blush, powder, mascara and coloured gloss), where our name tag goes, what our bags look like, what tags we can have on our bags (most crew ignore this one) and even up to what sort of perfume we wear. Most Middle Eastern airlines are very similar, except I don't think any of them allow for a pony tail.

Here's some nicely turned-out Air France FAs. If you click on the picture it also has information about the photographer and a book he wrote about flight attendants.

What do you think? Do you prefer more 'casual' crew (like Southwest) or do you like it better when the crew look 'perfect' (Singapore, Etihad, Air France). I'd love to hear your comments!

Virgin Blue crew

Qantas crew

Jetstar crew


  1. I don't mind either casual or perfect. I must say that your lot normally look pretty slick; in a not too formal, but certainly not casual way. The Air France photo strikes me as having the most fetching look of the photos that you posted.

  2. I had a feeling you'd go for the French crew :P

  3. We have these rules, at least for some US carriers. The rules at the airline I used to work for were strict, but they weren't enforced. The only differences were the width of heel wasn't listed, we didn't have to cover up the elastic pony tail holder (though one airline has a 2 bobby pin visible rule), no rules for tags on our bags, and we had to wear actual lipstick.

    It's fun to see the differences. I honestly think it's just about enforcement though, everyone was scared of image checks, but they never happened so we got away with a lot.

  4. Well, most of the FA's here look a hot mess. Especially on the more "economical" airlines. I feel as if because of the way things are run over here in the US they just don't care. But jeez, have a sense of pride in yourself and pull yourself together!

  5. Britt is right, we have the rules, they're just not enforced;-)

  6. Personally I think for a premium airline like Qantas the strictness is expected, premium airlines are like 5 * hotels or restaurants, part of the service is the look.

    LCC's on the other hand, should still look professional but have a bit more leeway, personally i think DJ does it better than JQ


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