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After Mandatory Vaccination Announcement, United Loosens Employee Dress Code

Frankfurt, Germany - July 17, 2014: United Airlines aircraft logo at an aircraft in Frankfurt. United Airlines is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

Days after United Airlines announced every employee would need to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, the carrier is loosening their dress code for customer-facing workers. The carrier will now allow gate agents and flight crews to have visible tattoos, while all workers can wear nail polish or makeup.

In the name of inclusivity, United Airlines is shaking up their dress code for customer-facing employees. CNN reports the Chicago-based carrier is setting a set of new rules on tattoos, hairstyles, makeup and nail polish.

Visible Tattoos now Allowed, While All Workers Can Wear Makeup

Starting on September 15, 2021, the new employee dress code will allow workers to have visible tattoos while on the job. In addition, all employees will be allowed to wear makeup and nail polish, regardless of their gender.

Even though the changes are a major shift from previous policies, there will still be limitations. Visible tattoos must be smaller than a United nametag, while long hair worn down must be no longer than shoulder length.

Airlines have often had strict dress codes, with some going so far as to demand a certain weight for their flight crews. With the move, United is hopeful to create an environment of inclusivity – a first among major international carriers.

“[The goal for employees is to] feel welcome to be their authentic selves at work and celebrate their individuality,” reads a statement on the new policy from United to CNN. “While also serving as ambassadors for our global United brand.”

While gate agents and flight attendants will be the first to get the new rules, it may also be coming to pilots. The carrier told CNN they plan on expanding the policy to pilots by the end of 2021.

United’s Move Comes After Mandatory Vaccination Policy

The dress code change comes after United instituted a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy for all their employees. Under their plan, the workers will have until October to provide proof of vaccination, or face potential consequences.

jamesteroh August 21, 2021

Not sure why they aren't extending it to the pilots at the same time, it's not like they are visible to the flying public like FA's and GA's. I thought items like piercings, nail polish and make up had to apply to both genders. Isn't it sexist saying women can wear make up and not men? I worked for a large firm with a professional dress code in college and they got in trouble for not allowing women to wear slacks and not allowing men to have pierced ears.

cscasi August 17, 2021

Chavala, Or on a woman, either!

chavala August 16, 2021

About time. How ridiculous anyone would care about tattoos or nail polish on a man in this day and age.

taffygrrl August 13, 2021

This seems like a reasonable policy. It's not 1999 anymore and all of the items listed have become much more common. Not sure how people with hair shorter than shoulder length have managed to put it up, though - scads of hair spray? Mine won't stay up...

schelsr August 12, 2021

Having a spectrum disorder, I have great compassion for any person, child or adult, with these challenges. However, having ridden countless miles with perfectly able children, many I suspected en-route to an exorcism clinic, (whose parents either ignored, glared back, fawned, or drank themselves to stupor) who terrorized individuals, rows, or entire of aircraft, it comes as no surprise that finally the duct-tape has come out. Thus, with compassion for this particular case, I'll defy any 1K, Diamond, EP, etc., level traveler to convince me that they wouldn't have loved having duct tape on their 'difficult flights'