Airline Bans Dark Lipstick Onboard

Turkish Airlines has announced it will soon ban its flight attendants from wearing lipstick or nail polish in bright shades while on the job.

The carrier says colors like red or pink don’t match the inflight crew’s uniform, so wearing make up in those shades would “impair the visual integrity” of the outfits.

Instead, the airline says it wants its staff to wear pastel-toned makeup, as that would not only coordinate better with the uniform but also give off a more calming effect.While it’s standard practice for airlines to provide guidelines on how their staff should be groomed, the Turkish Airlines announcement has been met with criticism from some flight attendants, the general public, and even Turkish government officials. A number of Turkish Airlines hostesses have started wearing red lipstick during flights in protest of the ban.

The new makeup rules come in the wake of stricter guidelines implemented last year in which the carrier banned crew from coloring their hair platinum blonde or red, and forbade female staff from wearing silver eye makeup. The latest measure banning bright lipsticks is apparently the result of passenger complaints.

Do you think the ban is out of line? Do you care what makeup shades your flight attendant wears?

[Photo credit: Flickr user jerine]

Cockpit Chronicles: Is it time for pilots to ditch the hat?

Call it civil disobedience. Or, for some, it’s a way to express displeasure at management. Maybe the hat just doesn’t work well with their haircut. Whatever the reason, pilots have been ditching their hats lately at airlines across the country.

Some companies have heard enough complaints that they’ve changed their policy, making the hat optional for their pilots.

In fact, effective March 15th, that’s the case at American Airlines. It’s the most significant change to an AA pilot uniform since the Roosevelt era. Which isn’t saying much, since the uniform hasn’t really changed at all since then.

No surveys were taken, although getting rid of hats would surely have been a popular move among most pilots. Doing away with hats started years ago with flight attendants before gaining momentum among pilots.

American Eagle went to the optional hat years ago.
There’s been a movement to bring back hats for men regardless of their profession. But it doesn’t seem to be gaining any traction as far as I can tell.

Internal employee message boards have debated the policy at length. Some pilots say the hats are keeping with a more professional appearance, while others cite examples of being mistaken for a skycap while waiting for a hotel van at the airport.

The hat has proven to be useful during an evacuation, as passengers can recognize who the pilots are as they’re assembling outside the plane. But it doesn’t really serve any other function. We certainly don’t wear them in the cockpit (something that is sure to get a laugh when pilots watch a flying movie where the aviators are all wearing their hats and jackets).

I actually have mixed feelings about the change. I’ve become rather used to wearing my ‘helmet’ over the years, and while it isn’t being done away with entirely-it’s the pilots option whether or not to wear it-I suspect I’ll go for the convenience of leaving it at home. Especially given the long commute ahead of me starting this summer.

Maybe I’ll bring it back for my retirement flight. Or should switch to an entirely different kind of pilot hat like this one.

I’m curious what you think. Are pilot hats a goofy throwback to a bygone era? Or do the hats add a touch of professionalism to the job?


Cockpit Chronicles takes you along on some of Kent’s trips as an international co-pilot on the Boeing 757 and 767 based in Boston. Have any questions for Kent? Check out the Cockpit Chronicles Facebook page or follow Kent on Twitter @veryjr.

Plane Answers: Crew rest seats and identifying pilot uniforms

Welcome to Gadling’s feature, Plane Answers, where our resident airline pilot, Kent Wien, answers your questions about everything from takeoff to touchdown and beyond. Have a question of your own? Ask away!

Ignacio asks:

Say you’re on a Boston-Paris trip. The flight is totally loaded up, so there are no free seats, neither First nor Tourist class. When it comes to rest-time, what do you pilots do? Is it possible for a scheduled flight to have no seats available?

The policy varies by airlines, but the FAA requires that a seat be provided somewhere in the back for the third pilot on flights over 8 hours. Whether that seat is in coach or business class is something that’s determined by contract negotiations. At my company, we’re lucky to have a seat in business, often with the seat next to us blocked as well.

Jocelyn asks:

Regarding airline pilot uniforms;

1. What is the difference between the different colored epaulets airline pilots wear on their uniforms. Some wear white and some wear gold, that I have seen.2. Is 3 stripes for a co-pilot and 4 stripes represents a captain?

3. Is there a 1 or 2 stripe epaulet and if so what is that rank or what do they do?

4. Does the hat have to match the epaulets i.e., gold band and gold leafs on the brim of his hat if he wears gold epaulets?

5. What is the gold or white band and why the gold or white leafs on the brim of his cap?

I never imagined there could be five questions relating to epaulets and uniforms, but I’m thrilled with the unique query.

Individual airlines can choose, often with their employees’ input, the color and style of uniform. The more modern pilot uniforms have moved to thinner stripes on the jacket sleeve for example.

Four stripes on either the shirt epaulets or the jacket sleeve are reserved for the captain, and three stripes for the co-pilot. Years ago we had mechanics who were licensed as professional flight engineers on the 707, 727 and DC-10 at my airline and those non-pilots sported two-stripes on their sleeves. There was no retirement age for these professional flight engineers, so you would occasionally see an FE in his 70’s flying the DC-10 before they were (both) retired.

Later, when qualified pilots were hired to work as flight engineers, they were given three stripes when sitting at the sideways seat.

Captains can also be identified by the ‘scrambled eggs’ on the brim of their hats and some airlines have slightly different design on the captain wings, occasionally adding a star, for example. The color of the epaulets, scrambled eggs and trim is again decided by the airline, but silver and gold are the most common examples.

I’ve seen thin single or double stripes used on the sleeves that are now reserved for flight attendant uniforms.

Do you have a question about something related to the pointy end of an airplane? Ask Kent and maybe he’ll use it for the next Plane Answers. Check out his other blog, Cockpit Chronicles and travel along with him at work. Twitter @veryjr

Japanese sex clubs: Where flight attendant uniforms mean service

Where is a flight attendant uniform synonymous with high-touch service? Well, you may encounter JAL duds in a Japanese sex club. Your hostess may not keep it on long, but you’ll be happy to know that your safety is her first priority, whether you’re dressed or not. When JAL fell into bankruptcy, the risk that flight attendant uniforms would fall into the wrong hands skyrocketed.

It seems that people will pay big bucks to get serviced by a “flight attendant,” as long as it doesn’t happen on a plane. Thus, the uniforms can fetch thousands of dollars, a sale made easier by employees falling victim to mass layoffs. Flight attendant uniforms popping up on the Yahoo! Japan auction site were on the block for more than $3,000.

Of course, there’s more to this problem than the illusion of freaky FAs filling fetish fantasies for sex club patrons. The airline also says that there’s a security risk, as uniforms can make it easier to access restricted areas in airports. JAL also suggests that here’s brand risk, with an airline spokeswoman indicating, “We also do not want people misrepresenting the company or damaging our image in any way.”

I guess the impact on the airline’s image depends on the talent wearing the uniform …

United plans for new image overhaul

After coming in last among large airlines in customer satisfaction surveys for two out of the last three years, United Airlines has been overhauling its operations in an effort to increase on-time performance and win back customers. Now the airline is working on the physical appearance of its planes and crew.

Every single one of the airplanes in United’s fleet will be getting a make-over. The grey with black and red stripes interiors (knows within the company as the “tequila sunrise” scheme) will be replaced with blue leather. The 1980’s-era overhead bins will be updated as well. The airline also announced that fashion designer Cynthia Rowley will be creating more stylish, updated crew uniforms.

With a reputation for poor customer service, delays, cancellations, broken guitars, safety violations, and lost luggage, can United really overhaul its image with a few aesthetic updates? Probably not, but airline officials hopes they can continue to address the issues that have led to its poor satisfaction survey rankings and eventually turn things around. Apparently, they just want the airline to look good while they do it.