Wearing a Cabin Crew Uniform: Pros and Cons

Did you know that I had my ponytail measured with a ruler yesterday?

Did you know that I had my ponytail measured with a ruler yesterday? In my workplace, your ponytail must be a certain length (no longer than 30cm) and of it is your hair has to be secured in a bun. Not just any bun, a natural, but neat bun!

In the Aviation industry, your uniform isn’t just a bun, or an itchy pair of stockings, or an ill fitting skirt. It is the brand of your airline embodied, and you are a walking, talking, flying advertisement for them! Every time you leave your house your uniform, whether or not you are off to work, going to the shops or flying somewhere new, you must personify the values of your airline. Be proud of it! There are so many people that will recognise the place and the company that you work for by a certain colour, a hat or the overall uniform. Many would love to walk in your (sometimes painfully high) shoes and tights! This comes with positive aspects, and a few negative ones too, depending on your personality and point of view.

The Pros

Never Having to Make a Decision Again

If you wear a uniform, you never have to make another painstaking “what to wear for work” decision again! Many of us attend(ed) private schools and have been bound by the uniformity of uniforms (haha) since we could finger paint. In high school, I used to fanaticise about all of the outfits that I could compile when I eventually broke out of my bottle-green and sunset-brown confines. Fast forward a couple of years, and after wasting the best part of an hour EVERY MORNING ripping off outfits to eventually return to the same T-shirt and jeans for Uni, I was ecstatic to learn that I would be rep-ping the iconic Red Hat for Emirates. Even if it meant I had to wear the same ugly beige stockings that I loathed in my school days, because I knew I would save years of my life already knowing what I would wear to work. Getting up at 2am is hard enough already, without the address stress of having to choose an outfit!

Saving Money

I don’t know about you, but when you work with the same people day in and day out, and you wear a different outfit every day… the chances are that I’m not going to want to wear the same combination in one week. I worked in an Administration role whilst I was studying and I spent most of my casual wage very (not) casually buying different clothes to wear to work! Wearing a Uniform saves you money. Most airlines will provide you with your full uniform, including shoes, handbags, luggage and coats. Even hosiery! Both the ones that I have worked for also cover the cost of your dry cleaning. We have a complimentary laundry service for all uniform items, and they come back freshly pressed, starchy clean and crisp as Central Park in November!

Stand Out from the Crowd

Consider this. At work, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of you, dressed in a near identical manner, right down to the diameter of your earrings (yes, it’s a thing). It might be irritating, but as soon as you remove yourself from that situation, you stand out like a shining beacon of cosmopolitan glamour. Walking through the airport, you will receive more stares and photographs than a Victoria’s Secret model (maybe), and feel just as famous! Especially at an out station. Even lining up for a coffee, or nipping out to buy hairspray, you will be recognised. It is a lovely feeling when people engage with you on a personal level, simply because of the uniform that you are lucky enough to be showing off.

The Cons

Personal Expression Takes a Backseat

But what about my piercings? I hear you ask. What about my hair, my jewellery, the way I like my clothes to fit and the shoes that I love to wear? To be honest, if wanting to have blue hair and 7 facial piercings and a sleeve is the most important thing to you, then perhaps a role in Aviation/isn’t your ideal career path. Part and parcel of receiving the perks of such a role comes with sacrifice. When in Uniform, it’s your personal expression. Instead of being sad that I can only wear nude, pink or french nail polish* 48 out of 52 weeks in a year, I decided to let my personality shine through with my actions rather than my appearance. In order to stand out, and be influential in a work place where there are so many similarly dressed people, you need to be quintessentially you! It is not strictly a part of my job to chase up lost property for customers. That is what Baggage Services is for, yet it if I have the time and the resources to go the extra mile, why not?! It’s not my job to bring stickers and colouring-in to work to entertain bored and over excited children, and give their poor parents a rest! Yet I still take the time to do these things, because I enjoy them, and because it makes me happy.

Once you are wearing your uniform daily, you will no doubt start to take it for granted. The lipstick that you dreamed of wearing will become an arduous chore to apply and reapply, and the hat that you yearned to wear will become cumbersome, squashed, and reek like a puppy who has just had a bath! This is a given, but the thing to remind yourself is that you chose it for a reason. You might not like your uniform all the time, but you like the values it represents, the lifestyle it comes with and the opportunities that a provided to you. Whenever my badges are out of place, or I get a ladder in my stocking, I try to think of these things. Flying is challenging, yet rewarding, and your uniform is part of the fun!

* These colours are actually in fashion, and my favourite now. So that is most convenient!

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Taylor has been loving and living the Aviation dream for 5 years. She has flown as Cabin Crew for an International Airline based in Dubai, where she lived and worked. Taylor is now based in her hometown of Perth, Western Australia, as a Lounge Agent for the national carrier.

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