Airlines face a challenge around the holidays. Do they insist on a standard image for their frontline employees, or do they allow some festive creativity? And if employees can deviate from standard dress, what guidelines should be applied?
The first time I ever heard the festive Night Before Christmas safety brief it was on a United flight, though that was at least two decades ago. Now United Airlines appears to be taking a more conservative stance this holiday season, cracking down on flight attendant holiday dress.
Paddle Your Own Kanoo reports that United Airlines flight attendants aren’t being allowed to wear santa hats or holiday aprons as we approach Christmas. The War On Christmas is, apparently, being waged at United.
[F]light attendants have been told they are forbidden from wearing traditional festive accessories in the run up to Christmas.
Santa hats are expressly forbidden and so too are reindeer antlers and the humble Christmas jumper. Flight attendants have also been warned that wearing their own Christmas themed apron is off bounds as well.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents United’s 22,000 cabin crew, has told it’s members that they shouldn’t wear anything that might detract from their “professional image as Safety Professionals.”
United’s flight attendants have been informed they will be permitted “to wear one “conservative” holiday accessory.” Male flight attendants may wear a “conservative holiday tie, pin or festive socks permitted” while females are given additional latitude with one “holiday-themed scarf, earrings or necklace) (they may wear Christmas socks, just as male flight attendants can, but only if they are wearing pants).
If flight attendants were being told that they couldn’t deviate from official uniform because of the high quality image the airline is trying to project, that might get some chuckles but that would also be admirable. But there’s concern that holiday accents will detract from the image of United flight attendants as safety professionals…?
Ironically this year United started allowing flight attendants to show personality during safety announcements. They’re allowed personality verbally, it seems, but not visually.