Virgin Atlantic Will Allow Flight Attendants to Show Off Their Tattoos

They’re the first major global carrier to do so. Naturally, some people are mad about it.

Virgin Atlantic flight attendants with tattoos, a man with his arms crossed up front and a woman standing in the back. Virgin just announced it will allow attendants to display certain tattoos.
Whether your flight attendant does or does not have tattoos does not matter.
Virgin Atlantic

This week, Virgin Atlantic announced that they had updated their uniform guidelines, for flight attendants and flight staff, to provide more freedom and flexibility in terms of individual expression. Seemingly following United, Air New Zealand and Air Canada’s lead, they’re relaxing their stance on tattoos.

“At Virgin Atlantic, we want everyone to be themselves and know that they belong. Many people use tattoos to express their unique identities and our customer-facing and uniformed colleagues should not be excluded from doing so if they choose,” Estelle Hollingsworth, Virgin Atlantic’s chief people officer, said.

According to a report from The Guardian, facial and neck tattoos will remain off limits, as well as tattoos “with swearing, or deemed culturally inappropriate, or those that refer to nudity, violence, drugs or alcohol.” Further, “prison-style love/hate knuckle tattoos” will also continue to be banned.

For the uninitiated, flight attendants with visible tattoos were previously required to wear long-sleeve shirts, or conceal their tattoos using makeup — and at many leading carriers, they still are. In fact, Virgin Atlantic is the first U.K. airline, and major global carrier, to allow tattoos in the cabin. Of course, despite the fact that the year is 2022 and three in ten Americans have at least one tattoo, some people are…less than pleased with the decision.

“Tattoos are disgusting if it’s not part of your culture. Why not topless flight air hostesses? Why stop at tattoos? I would love topless flight attendants,” someone commented on Matthew Klint’s post on Live and Let’s Fly relaying the news.

“The anti thesis of showing tattoos is not ignoring them, It’s telling people how disgusting they are. You cover your tattoos and we won’t talk about them. If you shove them in my face, we will talk about how disgusting they look. No one would tolerate a person who smells bad. No one should tolerate tattoos. One is an assault on olfactory senses and the other on visual senses. Tattoos are disgusting,” the same (unhinged) person later added.

Here’s the thing, caring about your flight attendants’ tattoo status is extremely weird. As someone else in Klint’s comments (this person a little more sound of mind) pointed out: the ink isn’t going to seep into your drink. Flight attendants are responsible for making sure passengers are comfortable in-flight and, on occasion, saving them in the event of an emergency — not adhering to exploitative and misogynistic beauty standards. Doctors have tattoos. Lawyers have tattoos. Teachers have tattoos. Flight attendants have tattoos and — get this! — it has quite literally zero bearing on their ability to do their job, either. Stop being weird.


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