Australian Airline Qantas Drops Gender-Based Uniform Policy

Australian airline Qantas has relaxed its gender-based uniform rules, permitting male employees to wear makeup and have long hair.

The updated style guide ensures that female employees are no longer obligated to wear makeup and heels while on duty.

Last year, an Australian trade union urged Qantas to modernize its “uniform policy into the 21st Century.”

This change follows the lead of rival airlines that have relaxed their regulations, including Virgin Atlantic, which has adopted gender-neutral uniforms.

In addition to the option of wearing flat shoes, both men and women are now allowed to wear the same types of jewelry, including large watches.

Under the new guidelines, all employees, including pilots and flight attendants, can have long hair, provided it is styled in a ponytail or bun.

“Fashions change, and so have our style guidelines over the years,” stated Qantas in a Friday announcement.

“We’re proud of our diversity as well as bringing our guidelines up to date,” the statement added.

These new rules also extend to employees of Qantas’ budget airline Jetstar.

Imogen Sturni from the Australian Services Union (ASU), which campaigned for Qantas to modify its uniform policy, hailed the decision as a “significant victory for workers.”

“Some of the dress code requirements were bordering on ridiculous, such as makeup style guides and a requirement for women to wear smaller watches than men,” Ms. Sturni informed the BBC.

However, tattoos must still be covered under the new policy for Qantas workers. The rules also specify which uniform items can be worn together, including the requirement of wearing tights or stockings with skirts.

Qantas’ announcement follows similar changes made by other airlines.

In September, UK-based carrier Virgin Atlantic introduced a “fluid approach” to uniforms, enabling staff members to choose their work attire “regardless of gender.”

However, the airline later clarified that this policy did not apply to crew members on board the England football team’s flight to the World Cup in Qatar, a decision that drew criticism regarding the treatment of LGBT individuals.

During that time, Virgin stated that the measure had been implemented in the UK, US, and Israel, as these countries were “more accepting of non-binary identities and allowed for greater self-expression.”

In 2019, Air New Zealand lifted its ban on visible tattoos, enabling employees to “express their individuality and cultural heritage.”

Some New Zealanders with Maori heritage bear tattoos to symbolize their genealogy and cultural background.