Not all flight attendants wear scarves, but they’re so predominant and immediately spring to the mind of passengers when they think of flight attendants, that there must be a good reason behind it.

While you might think that there is a long-established history of flight attendants wearing scarves since the early days of aviation, this isn’t the case.

3 Reasons Why Flight Attendants Wear Scarves


When women first entered the world of commercial aviation to work as flight attendants in the 1930s, they were registered nurses.

Registered nurses at the time wore smocks and white caps as their uniform.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that flight attendants stated wearing scarves as part of their uniform – simply because it was aesthetically pleasing.

The scarves that flight attendants wear add a touch of color and class to a flight attendant’s uniform while being cheap to manufacture.

Fun fact: The first flight attendant was a man.


While flight attendants didn’t wear scarves in the early days of aviation, scarves are still iconic due to their use in the early days of aviation.

When aviation was just starting to take off, pilots flew in open cockpits, so wore scarves to protect their neck from the cold and chaffing.

Scarves were also useful to keep pilots from breathing in engine exhaust.

Flight attendants wearing scarves bring back that early day romance of the skies, when aviation held such much excitement and promise.


It might not be the main reason that flight attendants wear scarves, but scarves are very practical.

Flight attendants have been seen using scarves as belts, lanyards, ponytail holders, sweatbands, and more.

Is there a broken luggage handle? Well, a scarf will come in handy for that.

How about when someone is bleeding or has suffers a sprain or strain? Well, a scarf acts as a great bandage – if only temporarily.

Scarves can also be useful if a flight attendant needs to cover a tattoo, which most airlines require their flight attendants to do.

Patricia is a senior flight attendant with over 20 years of experience working for a major U.S. airline, primarily on international long haul flights.
Patricia is passionate about sharing her knowledge and expertise about the unique lives flight attendants lead, offers valuable insights on what it takes to become a flight attendant and what the job entails.
Patricia has been quoted or mentioned in major publications, including Newsweek.