New United Airlines Policy Helps Flight Attendants Stay Safe From Passengers While Off-Duty

Last Spring United Airlines introduced wings with crew names and pronouns. These replaced separate nametags and crew wings. And the flight attendants union filed a grievance – not against the option to display pronouns, but because they say this jeopardized flight attendant safety.

It turns out that the airline issuing separate nametags and wings was in the union contract, and crew could take off the name tags when they weren’t flying. The move to a single badge integrating both elements has sparked dissatisfaction from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), which represents United’s cabin staff.

The AFA-CWA says that removing name tags is crucial for safety when flight attendants aren’t working on board the aircraft.

Because of this union grievance, United Airlines has introduced a policy allowing its flight attendants the option to not display their ‘wings’ badge, signifying their crew member status, while off the aircraft.

The airline plans to overhaul its current uniform, likely including an update to its appearance standards, next year. They’re expected to use a blue and grey color palette, and not the originally proposed purple (cf. Delta).

Staff seeing risk to their safety from passengers is hardly new. It usually happens with Spirit Airlines flights. In fact, when Spirit faced an operational meltdown in summer 2021 the airline told staff to hide from passengers and not wear their uniforms for their own safety.

Taking frustrations out on front line employees never makes sense, and threats to safety for poor communications are disproportionate and not constructive. I’m not sure that the name badge is the key here, though. It really just prevents passengers from reporting individual crew members by name for their behavior while commuting or in the airport.

(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m a little baffled. Do these name tags have their last name on them and the city they live in? (I’m not a regular United flyer as they are at the bottom of my fly list). I mean is it for stalking or something? How does having a first name create this? Maybe I’m just missing something.

  2. “Because of this union grievance, United Airlines has introduced a policy allowing its flight attendants the option to not display their ‘wings’ badge, signifying their crew member status, while off the aircraft.”

    No the option not to display the name badge is written in their contract which has been in place since 2016.

  3. “It really just prevents passengers from reporting individual crew members by name for their behavior while commuting or in the airport.” It also prevents creeps from having information about a person they have no reason or right to know, which I imagine is the very reason the provision is in the union contract. If you think this is bonkers, ask women in your life if they would feel comfortable wearing a nametag while checking-in alone at a hotel or having a drink alone at a bar or any number of public situations.

  4. No, I didn’t…I’ve seen a TON of rude and unprofessional behavior from uniformed airline members (mostly representing YOUR airline) checking in and out of hotels when I’m on the road, sometimes unprofessional enough to warrant a complaint. If they’re in uniform, they should be expected to wear all the necessary items, including identifying items!

  5. Pure histrionics. Passengers need to know your identity when working. I would like to see a full photo ID displayed. If you have nothing to hide, start being proud of who you are and what you do.

  6. This is nonsense. Their first name being displayed does not endanger their safety. Just unions trying to help members avoid accountability when they are rude while off duty.

  7. As far as names go on or off duty, I can see if you report for rude or obnoxious behavior to the company. It’s always a two way street though. All the business travelers flying around, either on company business or on vacation, are also representing their company. I’ve been here over 40+ years. I’ve heard the stories about people arriving into their office on Monday morning getting an earful from the boss for acting like an Ahole while traveling on or off the clock. Those that own their own business, well just like all the pics of F/As doing stupid things, social media is great when you want to put a company on blast. Two way street.

  8. The new nametag and “wings” look like they came from the bottom of a box of Lucky Charms. Especially with that ‘pronouns’ nonsense. Why not put their favorite color on there too. Bring the old stuff back and start looking professional again.

    Yeah, I know this comment will trigger many snowflakes in our audience. Especially ones with fluorescent colored hair. And I couldn’t give a crap.

  9. If an employee is off-duty, they should be able to remove their name tag.

    However, if wearing a first name is threatening to an off-duty employee, someone is engaging in questionable behavior.

  10. I think a lot of people underestimate the amount of “stalking” of crew members that takes place. For various reasons, some people have a tremendous fascination with them and go to extremes to track them down and obtain their personal information.

    I am fully supportive of crew being able to choose an alias for their name tags that differs from their legal name for this reason, but at the same time I would therefore encourage them to continue wearing the name tag at all times given the safeguard built in as a result.

  11. If I see pronouns on a name tag, it tells me the person is a foolish, mentally ill, woker.
    It’s a shame how our school system has indoctrinated and brainwashed so many weak minded people.

    I do not comply with wokeness and refrain from giving any money to woke companies.
    Go woke / go broke….

  12. Sounds like AngryFlier is the real snowflake, up in arms and frothing at the mouth over a nametag

  13. As a crew member and a commuter.
    I have had plenty of people addressing me like they know me. We are not scared of getting written up. Because we do pur job by standards of our Airlines. Passengers feel they are obligated to even know where we stay. Complete violation of our contracts.
    Yes I have been stocked to the point the law had to get involved. Some of the above comments bashing out on us about our names being displayed.
    Remember it a safety issue. You have daughters and sons.
    Stocking is a crime. It’s a violation of my personal rights.

  14. The whole pronoun thing is silly. We do not care if you identify as an elephant or a giraffe.

  15. @ J Estrada

    First I think you mean stalking. Women wear full IDs in public venues every day. ( from hospitals, courthouses, to prisons ). Secondly, FA s (there for our safety) cannot deflect personal questioning they are deficient in intelligence to handle any public facing job. Stalking is not exclusive to the airlines. Please stop making yourselves something more than what you have been briefly trained to accomplish. It’s time to grow up.

  16. Pronouns on name tags now. Oh no, no…. Time for me never to fly United Airlines ever again.
    These people are a royal pain in the ass to deal with all around, generally clueless about how to navigate life as a normal person usually does. Say no to this woke corporate BS.

  17. I saw a Delta flight attendant have an absolute meltdown at an airport coffee shop because she had to pay 50 cents extra to get her drink double cupped. She ended up being on my flight and her name tag was never fully visible. As I exited the plane, I told her that her meltdown and treatment of the coffee shop staff was completely out of line. I’ve never seen sometime go from happy to angry in less time.

  18. People really need to stop pushing this pronoun crap…. No one in the normal world introduces themselves mentioning what their pronouns are. (And this comes from a gay guy, many of us think that crap is ridiculous)

  19. @An Actual AA Flight Attendant – no it says when not on aircraft. Big difference between not on aircraft and not in airport.

  20. @J Estrada and all other flight attendants here.

    Simple solution: FAs can choose a made-up handle to put on their badge, e.g. “WhineyFA123”

    That way, passengers can credit good service or report bad service. And there’s zero risk of “stocking” or even stalking.

    In a better world, Pax would have a chance to rate all the FAs, and bonuses would be based on that.

  21. @ J Estrada. Do not take a position in your company where you will be required to write memos. You will quickly lose credibility . . . regardless of your pronouns. And yes, the pronoun nametags are silly. Most reasonably intelligent people just don’t care.

  22. So Gary, why did you even bring up pronouns? This is about the ability to remove the name tag portion, which Sean M and others pointed out clearly is about legitimate crew members safety concerns, not about the addition of optional pronouns to the name tag portion.

  23. United replaced the two items with a single item that included optional pronouns, and it’s the single item that triggered the contract dispute.

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