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Travel Tuesday Top 10: Flight Attendant Uniforms

Aug. 07, 2012
9 min read
Travel Tuesday Top 10: Flight Attendant Uniforms
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While many flight attendant uniforms don't exactly project any strong fashion sense, a few airlines kit out their crews in ensembles that remind us all of the glory days of flying. Here are some mile-high styles from some of the world's most fashion-forward airlines.

1. Virgin America: The top spot has to go to a domestic airline - especially since compared to the rest of the field, the uniforms that Virgin America's flight attendants wear really stand out for both sleek functionality, sass and a bold use of bright red that still pays homage to old school flight attendant patterns. You might not recognize these designs, but that's because they're about to debut this Wednesday, August 8, when a new line created for the airline by Banana Republic comes into use to mark the airline's fifth anniversary. If you want to see the new uniforms in person, you can catch Virgin America flights from any of the airline's 19 different airports. If you want to redeem Elevate Points for your flight, they're usually worth 1.6-2.5 cents towards airfare and can be redeemed for any available seat, just like you were purchasing it. Virgin America is also a partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Amex points transfer at a ratio of 2 points to 1 Elevate point.

2. KLM: There's just something so iconic about the powder-blue uniforms that KLM crews sport - they're recognized the world over. The latest iteration was launched in 2010 (just for the ladies, as you see above) and were created by Dutch designer Mart Visser, and were the first new ones for the airline in 20 years! Good thing they're so timeless, because they might just have to wait that long again for another overhaul. To critique them for yourself, you would need 60,000 Delta Skymiles for a roundtrip economy low-level award from North America to Amsterdam in coach, or 100,000 for a roundtrip low-level business class award. Another option would be to book through Flying Blue, which is also a partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Amex points transfer at a ratio of 1 point to 1 Flying Blue mile.

3. Air New Zealand: You'd expect some pretty good fashions from a country so devoted to its sheep wool, and the new uniforms Air New Zealand unveiled along with its new 777-300ER's last year hit the mark. Conceived by New Zealand designer Trelise Cooper, the uniforms incorporate several bold colors to denote the distinct functions of the various flight crew - from attendants to pursers to in-flight concierges and more - as well patterns that appear to be a playful take on the airline's signature Koru logo. Make friends with some of these Kiwis and ask them how they like their new uniforms on your next flight aboard the airline's 777-300ER's (currently serving Auckland-LAX-London). You would need 80,000 United miles for a roundtrip Saver award from North America to New Zealand in coach, 135,000 for business, or 160,000 for a first class award. United is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.

4. Virgin Australia: Another Virgin airline scores the fourth spot on this list thanks to some eye-catching red uniforms with accent scarves and flirtatious heels, not to mention the ready-for-fun accents of the gentlemen and ladies who sport Virgin Australia's garb in the skies every day. These attractive numbers were created by Project Runway Australia winner Juli Grbac (you can check out a video of the designer explaining her inspiration) to coincide with the airline's launch of new business class seating and fast-track curbside check-in. You'll spot these threads on the airline's domestic routes within Australia, so you would need either 30,000 miles for an economy roundtrip ticket or 45,000 for a business class roundtrip ticket.

5. Delta: Though it seems like flight fashion has been low on legacy carriers' priority lists, the ladies of Delta are looking pretty fine in these flashy red thanks to the efforts of designer Richard Taylor, who created them for the airline back in 2005 and says he took his inspiration for them from the glamorous styles of Jet Age stewardesses. There's no guarantee you'll see one of these on your next flight since they're just one of several options Delta's flight attendants have, but just in case, Delta domestic awards start at 25,000 for low level availability in coach and 45,000 miles for first class. Remember, Delta is also an Amex transfer partner at a 1:1 ratio, so you can transfer points into miles and redeem them for flights. In the past Delta has run lucrative transfer bonuses with Amex, though none this year so far.

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6. Singapore Airlines: Of course no ranking of airline uniforms would be complete without the iconic dresses (actually they're a sarong kebaya in batik material) worn by Singapore Airlines' flight attendants, also known as "Singapore Girls," which were created by famed Paris couturier Pierre Balmain back in 1968, and became the mandated in 1972, almost immediately becoming an industry icon. Why so many colors, you ask? Like the uniforms of several other airlines here, the different colors denote the wearer's position and responsibilities. Cabin attendants are dressed in blue while the chief attendant is dressed in red. To meet a "Singapore Girl" for yourself, you would need 65,000 United miles for a roundtrip Saver award from North America to Singapore in coach, 120,000 for Business, or 140,000 for a first class award (not in the suites, which would require 200,000 miles roundtrip).

7. Emirates: Emirates quickly became one of the world's leading airlines - a beacon of style, elegance and opulence in the skies, and its crews wear uniforms in keeping with all those charms. Their latest uniforms came out in 2009 (though they debuted in a limited manner in 2008 with the delivery of the airline's first A380), designed by British firm Simon Jersey, not, surprisingly, a high-fashion house. The men sport chocolate-brown suits with cream-colored shirts and brown ties with diagonal red stripes. The ladies' outfits are mushroom-beige with brown and red pinstripes, a cream-colored blouse, and inverted pleats in the skirts that flash red when these stylish ladies traipse by. Something that didn't change: the signature jaunty red cabs with cream-colored half-veils that set these accomplished young women apart from their counterparts at other airlines. You would need 72,500 Emirates Skywards miles for a roundtrip Saver award from New York to Dubai in coach, 145,000 for business, or 217,500 for a first class award.

8. Cathay Pacific: Cathay's much buzzed-about new uniforms, which debuted last year along with the airline's new business and first class cabins aboard the 777-300ER, come courtesy of Hong Kong designer Eddie Huang, and seem to anticipate the Space Age with extreme-cut collars, sharp lines, and pins that look like Star Trek communicators. Still, all that just makes the bright flashes of red juxtaposed against gray and cream accents that much more alluring...and they even look comfortable to work in! A round trip ticket from Los Angeles-Hong Kong is normally 60,000 miles for economy, 120,000 for business, or 180,000 for a first class award, though you could also use Avios in the following numbers: 70,000 for coach, 140,000 for business, or 210,000 for first. Another option would be to book through Asia Miles which is also a partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Amex points transfer at a ratio of 1 point to 1 Asia mile.

9. Air France: You'd expect the airline hailing from one of the world's great fashion capitals to outfit its flight attendants accordingly - and sure enough, the femmes et hommes of Air France look magnifique thanks to the ministrations of fashion groundbreaker Christian Lacroix, who designed dozens of interchangeable looks for the men and women simultaneously, though this one with a waist cinched with a bright red bow like a birthday present just waiting to be unwrapped is certainly the most provocative. Air France is a member of SkyTeam, so you can use Delta miles to fly from North America to Europe for 60,000 roundtrip in coach or 100,000 roundtrip in business. Another option would be to book through Flying Blue which is also a partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Amex points transfer at a ratio of 1 point to 1 Flying Blue mile.

10. Korean Air: Taking its cue from other carriers, Korean Air commissioned a big-name designer to outfit its flight attendants in the highest-flying looks available. In this case, it's Italian superstar Gianfranco Ferre, with mix-and-match options of blazers, neck scarves, loose blouses, sensible skirts, sharp slacks and even chopstick-style hair fasteners that are a playful take on Korea's culinary culture. The color combos include an almost electric powder-blue, creamy white and straightforward khaki. Find out which ones your crew is wearing on your next flight by using Delta SkyMiles for a ticket from North America to Korea at the following rates: 70,000 roundtrip in coach, or 120,000 roundtrip in business at low-level availability. Korean Air is also a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards at a ratio of 1:1, and roundtrip coach tickets start at 60,000 miles, while business tickets go for 90,000 roundtrip at off-peak times.
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