United Asks Its Flight Attendants to Clean Up Their Appearance
United Airlines wants its flight attendants to improve their "personal grooming" and appearance, two internal memos obtained by Skift show. The memos state that the flight attendants' lackadaisical approach to their personal presentation might be hurting the United brand.
Cabin crew members who wear wrinkled or stained shirts, worn out shoes or “skirt lengths that don’t conform to the standard" should take their appearance more seriously, the memos say.
“Perhaps because of the distractions of our industry or the merger of our airlines, over time, we became too relaxed in compliance with established standards,” United Vice President for In-Flight Operations John Slater wrote in one of the internal messages. “We lost our focus on the value uniform standards have on our customers’ perception of our company.”
Slater goes on to state that flight attendants had contacted him to "share concerns" of their colleagues were not adhering to the airline's uniform standards, and he asked the cabin crew members to help bolster the carrier's image while pointing out no other employees have more direct face time with their customers.
The first memo was a preliminary draft sent out by mistake. The second version of the memo used gentler language and was written in collaboration with the Association of Flight Attendants, which was in favor of the memo.
“Flight attendants take pride in presenting a professional image,” Taylor Garland, a spokeswoman for the union told Skift, noting that the memo was likely in line with other airlines' expectations. “Uniform standards help to ensure crew members are easily identified and respected as they perform their role as aviation’s first responders. That’s why our flight attendant union works with United to reinforce uniform standards in a way that promotes our professional role in maintaining safety, health and security.”
The memos reportedly had an “overwhelmingly positive reaction” from the carrier's flight attendants. “When our employees feel and look their best, it makes it easier for them to deliver the top-notch service our customers deserve,” a Untied spokesperson told TPG. "Part of putting our customers at the center of everything we do means making sure our employees are representing care and professionalism in their actions as well as their appearance."
*This post has been updated with United's statement to TPG.