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Employee Uniform Appearance Standard Revisions Intended to Modernize and Include

Date: June 18, 2021

This past week, United management announced revised appearance standards for uniformed, “customer-facing employees,” including Flight Attendants and Customer Service Representatives, that will be revised and effective as of September 1, 2021.  Later this year these modernized standards will apply to other work groups, including pilots, ramp service employees, etc.

United management indicates these changes are specifically intended to “reflect a more modernized look, with inclusive standards that better permit freedom of gender expression so that employees can feel their best at work.”

Kate Gebo, United Airlines’ Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP, describes this change:

“As the face of United, our customer-facing teammates can provide an even better experience for our customers when they look and feel their best. We’ve spent the last several years listening to the feedback we’ve received from our employees and our Business Resource Groups to develop these revised standards. We’re confident that these modernized and more gender-inclusive appearance standards will provide a more authentic representation of the people and cultures that make United the company it is today.”

United will share the full details of these modernized, updated guidelines next month and AFA’s Uniform Committee will provide our understanding of these changes in future communications to the Membership.

In the meantime, management has posted a “sneak peek” on Flying Together, including snapshot pictures which detail some of the updated standards employees might expect. Your MEC Uniform Committee has expressed many of your views to management and has stated that the announcement, absent specific detail on the contemplated changes, will raise more questions than there are answers immediately available. In fact, we are already beginning to hear you have concerns about the ambiguity that exists in the announcement.

Accompanying any change is always a certain level of anxiety about the unknown and this concern is part of human nature.  At this point, our focus should be on the fact that United management has, through this cross divisional effort, worked to incorporate much of the feedback received from employees about the importance of employees being “comfortable” while at work.  At the same time, there has been considerable emphasis placed on the fact that part of that “comfort” comes from looking our professional best and portraying our best, most polished image. 

As Flight Attendants, we are a diverse group of people, and that diversity is what makes us uniquely qualified to not only interact with the public but to be successful in our efforts to bring our customers back – time after time.   That the passengers in our care are able to see themselves in our collective is what makes us relatable to them.  That relationship has value.  In fact, as the work group spending the greatest period of time with them, is the very foundation of our success.

Be assured, your MEC Uniform Committee will remain in close contact with management as these changes roll out.  We will, as we have, fiercely advocate for the interests of the collective with the specific intent of ensuring the personal success of each Flight Attendant in the area of uniform compliance.

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