It’s very important for aspiring flight attendants to know if they are allowed to have tattoos or not, otherwise the dream of becoming a flight attendant can be over before it even begins.
Generally, flight attendants are not allowed to have any visible tattoos in uniform, though it can depend on the airline.
Some airlines will allow their flight attendants to have tattoos in areas that are visible while in uniform, as long as they can be covered, including through the use of makeup.
Other airlines will not allow their flight attendants to cover their tattoos that are visible while in uniform.
There are some airlines that even forbid their flight attendants from having any tattoos at all – visible in uniform or not.
An example is Qatar Airways.
If you apply to a major air carrier in the USA or Europe, this is not something you will have to worry about, though.
Can Flight Attendants Have Tattoos?
Visible tattoos are considered tattoos that can be seen while a flight attendant is wearing their uniform.
Some common locations of visible tattoos are tattoos on the wrist, hands, lower arms, neck, lower legs, and feet.
Some airlines allow their flight attendants to conceal any visible tattoos they have, while others won’t and therefore won’t hire you.
We cover the tattoo policy of major airlines below.
Generally, non-visible tattoos – i.e. tattoos that are covered by a flight attendant’s uniform are allowed, especially in the USA and Europe.
However, there are a few exceptions in other parts of the world.
Why Aren’t Flight Attendants Allowed to Have Tattoos?
Flight attendants aren’t allowed to have visible tattoos because flight attendants are seen as a representative of the airline and their brand.
Inevitably, airlines therefore want their flight attendants to convey a professional and positive image at all times.
Passengers will rarely see the pilot who is flying the plane, but they will see and interact with flight attendants on every single flight they take.
Flight attendants are effectively the face of the airline, so airlines want their customers to immediately associate their flight attendants with a professional image that leaves a positive, lasting impression.
To expand, airlines want to be seen as professional, global, cosmopolitan, approachable, and efficient, which tattoos may not indicate, especially when you consider the many different cultures and beliefs of people around the world.
Can Flight Attendants Cover Their Tattoos?
Whether flight attendants can cover their tattoos or not will depend on the airline.
Some airlines allow their flight attendants to cover their tattoos with makeup, a scarf, or other items of clothing that are part of a flight attendant’s uniform.
Let’s take a look at the tattoo policy for flight attendants of some of the most popular airlines.
Tattoo Policy for Flight Attendants – By Airline
- Alaska Airlines: Flight attendants are allowed to have visible tattoos as long as they are no longer than a work badge. If they are larger and/or located on the face, neck, chest, or hands, they must be covered up.
- American Airlines: Flight attendants are not allowed to have any visible tattoos while in uniform.
- Delta Airlines: Flight attendants are not allowed to have any visible tattoos while in uniform.
- Frontier Airlines: Flight attendants are not allowed to have any visible tattoos while in uniform.
- JetBlue: Flight attendants are not allowed to have any visible tattoos while in uniform.
- Southwest Airlines: Flight attendants are allowed to cover tattoos with pants, long sleeve shirts, hair, makeup, or with their scarf.
- Spirit Airlines: Flight attendants are not allowed to have any visible tattoos while in uniform.
- United Airlines: Flight attendants are allowed to have visible tattoos as long as they are no longer than a work badge. Tattoos that are larger than this and/or located on the face, neck, or hands, are not allowed.
European airlines tend to be more forgiving of tattoos, allowing flight attendants to cover them up.
EasyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air, for example, allow visible tattoos to be concealed, including through the use of makeup.
Middle Eastern Airlines
Middle Eastern airlines are more strict.
It would be unlikely to find a Middle Eastern airline that allows flight attendants to cover their tattoos with makeup.
Etihad and Emirates, for example, do not allow flight attendants to cover tattoos in visible areas.
Some airlines, like Qatar Airways, even ban tattoos altogether.
Do Any Airlines Allow Their Flight Attendants to Have Tattoos?
Virgin Atlantic has just announced (June 2022) that their flight attendants are allowed to have visible tattoos below their necks, though any tattoos that are deemed offensive must still be covered up.
This is a change so flight attendants can “express their unique identities.”
Air New Zealand has also allowed their flight attendants to display “non-offensive tattoos” since 2019.
What Happens if a Flight Attendant’s Tries to Hide a Tattoo and Gets Caught?
If a flight attendant is found to have a tattoo during the application and training process when it is against the airline’s policy, they will immediately be sent home.
Just because a flight attendant may have managed to conceal their tattoo during the hiring process, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences now that they’re working for the airline.
A flight attendant who is found to have a tattoo when it goes against the airline’s policy will be fired from their job.
Is Tattoo Removal Worth It?
Whether tattoo removal is worth it or not depends on a couple of factors.
Firstly, just because you have a tattoo, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be hired as a flight attendant.
You will just have to be more selective in which airlines you apply to, though this may reduce your chances of becoming a flight attendant.
How badly you want to work for a specific airline can also be important.
Additionally, keep in mind that 100% tattoo removal is also not guaranteed, several sessions may be required, and tattoo removal can be expensive.
Will Flight Attendants Be Allowed to Have Tattoos in the Future?
In recent years, some airlines have already revised their appearance standards to be more flexible to reflect the changing world.
This includes being less strict with tattoos and whether a flight attendant can cover them up or not.
In the coming years, we expect even more airlines to revise their appearance standards, though tattoos that are considered offensive will always be forbidden.
Tattoos on areas such as the face, neck, and hands are always likely going to be required to be concealed, though.
Can Flight Attendants Have Piercings?
Typically, flight attendants aren’t allowed to have piercings except for small, discrete studs and earrings that don’t call attention to themselves.
However, United Airlines have recently revised appearance standards to allow their flight attendants to have nose piercings.
What Other Appearance Standards Must Flight Attendants Follow?
Besides flight attendants not being allowed to have tattoos and piercings in most instances, flight attendants must also wear their hair up if it is beyond shoulder-length.
Hair should also be a natural looking color.
Hands and fingernails should also be clean and well-manicured, while not being too long and even in shape and length.
Each airline will give their flight attendants an appearance standards booklet that is expected to be adhered to at all times.
Generally, flight attendant appearance standards can be summed up as a “groomed look that meets conventional standards.”