How important is how you look to your Cabin Crew career?

In this era of modern aviation, can it really still be that important how you look? After all, the role of cabin crew has gradually evolved from glamorous trolley dolly to the highly trained professionals responsible for passenger safety and security they are today. So does it really still fit, that whilst crew will be responsible for dealing with emergencies, administering first aid, being the first line in security (once on board) and being the only thing standing between passengers and panic should anything go wrong, that they also need to ensure their nails are done and hair is nicely coiffured?

The importance of image

Of course airlines are highly competitive and we all know how influential brands can be. Everyone has heard the phrase ‘sex sells’ and attractive images are used in advertising to entice you to part with money for items from cars to chocolate, newspapers to drinks. So is this part of the reason? Do cabin crew need to be well turned out in order to encourage customers to come back? Would it make a big difference to your overall holiday experience to have cabin crew who didn’t wear make-up and wore flat shoes? Apparently many male passengers prefer to Fly with Virgin because of the ‘attractive girls, sexy uniform and massage service’. Is this just a good sales ploy, or does it undermine the serious responsibilities of cabin crew?

Surface differences, same underlying principles

Although different airlines do have different rules and expectations, there are some commonalities and many of these can be put down to health & safety e.g. hair tied back, clean clothes, sensible uniform you can move in. Some of the differences reflect cultural preferences, such as recent media coverage of the Middle Eastern airline who insist female crew remain single, and the unusual approach in China of holding a bikini parade for women seeking aviation jobs. While these stories might be somewhat shocking to western sensibilities, is it worlds apart from interview candidates having to make sure their hair, make-up and outfit is as important as how they answer their questions?

Professional look

Creating the right image is important to plenty of professions, and many organisations go a long way to ensure their customer facing representatives look the part. But is image given too much priority for the serious role cabin crew have today? After all, would we feel in safer hands if a nurse was wearing lipstick or less secure when police officers aren’t good looking? Of course cabin crew do need to be clean, smart, presentable; it wouldn’t convey a good impression anywhere to have someone who looks unhygienic serving food or providing a welcoming you! But how far does it need to go?

Going the extra mile to show you’re a great fit

A professional look for most careers is essential. What is less clear is what place the ‘perfect cabin crew look’ still has today. Some of us might like the aura of glamour and embrace the opportunity to look our best at work. Others may find it out-dated and more than a little sexist. Whatever opinions we have, the fact remains that how you look and present yourself IS very important to most airlines and you do need to turn up to your assessment day having gone that extra mile in terms of your appearance. Maybe over time this will change, but for the time being, when it comes to preparing your appearance for interview it is probably better to be safe than sorry!


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Michele is current serving long haul cabin crew & also an associate travel & tourism lecturer at Exeter College. Having worked within the aviation industry for over 30 years, both in the UK and the Middle East, she has a wealth of industry knowledge and experience to share with us here at Cabin Crew Wings.

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