Whether you’re a frequent flyer or only take to the skies occasionally, you may have noticed female flight attendants looking polished from head to toe in their iconic skirts or dresses, a prim scarf, and heels.
If you’ve flown anytime recently, you may have wondered, do flight attendants still wear pantyhose as part of their uniform?
The sheer nylons were once synonymous with the jet-setting glamour of air travel in the 1960s through much of the 1990s.
But styles change, and pantyhose may seem a bit outdated today. So what’s the deal – do flight attendants still have to wear pantyhose on the job?
If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Most airlines have done away with pantyhose requirements for female flight attendants.
A Brief History of Pantyhose and Flight Attendant Uniforms
Flight attendants have long been associated with their impeccable style and polished appearance. One iconic element of their uniform that has been closely linked with their image is pantyhose.
Let’s take a closer look at the history of pantyhose and its connection to flight attendant uniforms.
Pantyhose Become Part of the Iconic Flight Attendant Look in the 1960s
In the 1960s, as air travel became more popular and the role of flight attendants evolved, airlines began to pay closer attention to their employees’ appearance.
Pantyhose quickly became a staple in flight attendant uniforms, as they provided a polished and professional look.
The sheer stockings gave a sense of elegance and sophistication, enhancing the overall image of flight attendants as glamorous and well-groomed professionals.
During this era, flight attendants were often referred to as “stewardesses,” and their uniforms reflected the fashion trends of the time.
Pantyhose paired with skirts or dresses became a defining element of their attire, contributing to the overall aesthetic appeal of flight attendants.
The Decline of Pantyhose Began in the 1990s
As fashion trends shifted in the 1990s, pantyhose started to lose their popularity among the general public.
The rise of casual dressing and the influence of pop culture led to a decline in the use of pantyhose, not only among regular individuals but also within various professions, including flight attendants.
During this period, airlines began to introduce more relaxed dress codes, allowing flight attendants to have more freedom in choosing their uniforms.
This shift away from strict dress codes contributed to the decline in the use of pantyhose as flight attendants started opting for more comfortable and modern alternatives.
Trend Toward More Casual Flight Attendant Uniforms
In recent years, there has been a noticeable trend towards more casual flight attendant uniforms.
Many airlines have embraced a more relaxed and contemporary approach to their dress codes, moving away from the traditional, formal attire.
While some airlines still require flight attendants to wear pantyhose as part of their uniform, others have relaxed this requirement or eliminated it altogether.
This shift reflects the changing attitudes towards professional attire and the recognition that comfort and functionality are important considerations for flight attendants.
It is important to note that dress codes can vary significantly between airlines, and some may still enforce the use of pantyhose as part of their uniform policy.
However, the overall trend suggests a move towards more casual and flexible dress codes in the airline industry.
Which Airlines Still Require Pantyhose?
When it comes to the dress code for flight attendants, the use of pantyhose has been a topic of debate. While some airlines have moved away from this requirement, others still uphold the tradition. Let’s take a closer look at which airlines still require flight attendants to wear pantyhose.
Legacy Carriers Keep the Tradition Alive
Many legacy carriers, such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, still require their female flight attendants to wear pantyhose as part of their uniform.
These airlines have a long-standing tradition of maintaining a professional and polished image, and pantyhose are seen as an essential component of that image.
It’s worth noting that while pantyhose are required, some airlines have relaxed their rules to allow for nude or sheer stockings instead of the traditional opaque ones.
Southwest Dropped Pantyhose Requirement in 2020
In a surprising move, Southwest Airlines announced in 2020 that they would no longer require flight attendants to wear pantyhose.
Southwest Airlines has always been known for its relaxed and casual atmosphere, and the removal of the pantyhose requirement aligns with their brand image.
Flight attendants are now allowed to wear bare legs or choose to wear pantyhose if they prefer.
Most Budget Airlines Opt for No Pantyhose
When it comes to budget airlines, such as JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, and Frontier Airlines, the majority of them do not require flight attendants to wear pantyhose.
These airlines prioritize cost-efficiency and a more casual dress code, allowing their employees to forgo the use of pantyhose.
For budget carriers, the focus is on providing affordable flights and a no-frills experience. Pantyhose are often considered an unnecessary expense and a restriction on personal comfort.
It’s important to note that dress codes can vary within each airline, and individual flight attendants may have different uniform requirements based on their roles and the specific flights they are assigned to.
For more information about specific airline dress codes and uniform policies, you can visit the respective airlines’ official websites.
Why Do Some Airlines Still Mandate Pantyhose?
Despite changing fashion trends and evolving workplace norms, some airlines still require flight attendants to wear pantyhose as part of their uniform. There are a few reasons why this practice continues.
Maintaining a Traditional, Professional Look
One of the main reasons airlines mandate pantyhose is to maintain a traditional and professional look.
Pantyhose help create a uniform appearance among flight attendants, giving them a polished and put-together look.
Airlines believe that this dress code requirement contributes to the overall image and branding of the company, as well as instilling a sense of professionalism and respectability.
While some argue that this requirement is outdated and unnecessary, others believe that it helps to project a sense of authority and professionalism to passengers.
In an industry where customer service and safety are paramount, airlines may view pantyhose as a small but important part of creating a positive passenger experience.
Opinions Vary Among Flight Attendants
Opinions on the pantyhose requirement among flight attendants themselves are varied.
Some flight attendants appreciate the requirement, seeing it as a way to maintain a professional appearance and adhere to the airline’s standards.
They may view pantyhose as a necessary part of their uniform and take pride in the way it enhances their overall look.
On the other hand, there are flight attendants who feel that the pantyhose requirement is unnecessary and uncomfortable.
They argue that it is an outdated practice that does not align with modern fashion trends and can be restrictive and uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Cost and Durability Play a Role
Airlines may also consider cost and durability when mandating pantyhose. While pantyhose may seem like a small expense, when multiplied by the number of flight attendants, it can add up.
Some airlines may choose to require pantyhose to ensure a consistent and uniform appearance among their staff, eliminating the need for flight attendants to purchase their own hosiery that may vary in color and quality.
Additionally, pantyhose can provide durability and longevity to the uniforms, helping them withstand the demands of frequent travel and maintaining a professional appearance over time.
The Case Against Requiring Pantyhose
For years, flight attendants were expected to wear pantyhose as part of their uniform. However, in recent times, there has been a growing debate about whether this requirement is necessary or even appropriate.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the case against requiring flight attendants to wear pantyhose.
Viewed as Sexist by Some
One of the main arguments against requiring flight attendants to wear pantyhose is that it is viewed as sexist by some.
Critics argue that this requirement perpetuates outdated gender norms and places unfair expectations on female employees.
They argue that it is unfair to require flight attendants to adhere to strict dress codes that male employees are not subjected to.
This view is supported by the fact that many other professions have moved away from requiring pantyhose as part of their dress code.
In fact, some airlines have already made changes to their uniform policies, allowing flight attendants to opt out of wearing pantyhose if they choose.
Discomfort and Health Complaints
Another argument against requiring pantyhose is the discomfort and health complaints associated with wearing them for long periods of time.
Flight attendants often work long hours, and wearing pantyhose can cause discomfort, chafing, and even skin irritations.
This can be particularly problematic on long-haul flights where flight attendants are on their feet for extended periods.
Furthermore, there have been concerns raised about the impact of pantyhose on circulation and the potential risk of developing blood clots.
While more research is needed to establish a direct link, these health concerns cannot be ignored.
Reinforces Strict Uniform Standards
Requiring flight attendants to wear pantyhose also reinforces the strict uniform standards that have been criticized in the airline industry.
Some argue that these standards place unnecessary pressure on flight attendants to conform to a certain image, rather than focusing on their primary role of ensuring passenger safety and comfort.
By relaxing the requirement for pantyhose, airlines can promote a more inclusive and comfortable work environment for flight attendants. This can help boost morale and create a positive atmosphere among the cabin crew.
What Flight Attendants Wear Instead of Pantyhose
Gone are the days when flight attendants were required to wear pantyhose as part of their uniform. Nowadays, many airlines have relaxed their dress code policies, allowing flight attendants to opt for bare legs.
This change has been well-received by both the crew members and passengers, as it allows for more comfort during long flights.
Socks or Opaque Tights
While some flight attendants choose to go bare-legged, others prefer to wear socks or opaque tights as an alternative to pantyhose.
These options provide a more casual and relaxed look, while still maintaining a professional appearance.
Socks can be paired with a skirt or dress, while opaque tights offer more coverage and warmth during colder seasons.
Crews Have More Individual Style Options
With the relaxation of dress codes, flight attendants now have more freedom to express their individual style and personality through their attire.
Some crew members may choose to wear patterned or colorful tights, while others may opt for ankle boots or flats instead of traditional heels.
This diversity in style allows flight attendants to feel more confident and comfortable while performing their duties.
It’s important to note that while some airlines have embraced these changes, others may still have specific dress code requirements for their flight attendants.
It’s always a good idea to check with the airline’s policies and guidelines to ensure compliance with their uniform regulations.
While mandatory pantyhose for female flight attendants were once ubiquitous, the sheer nylons have gradually disappeared from many airlines’ required uniforms as views have changed.
Traditional carriers like United, American, and Delta keep the pantyhose rule due to its professional, polished look.
But most other airlines now see pantyhose as outdated, sexist, or uncomfortable for crews expected to stay on their feet.
Today’s flight attendants have far more freedom to showcase their individual style with choices of skirts, pants, dresses, and tights or socks in their airline’s colors.