Glamour and style have been everything to airlines since their inception. Men and women – but especially women – have been allowed to work in age limited, weight limited, height restricted, presentation dependent roles as cabin crew, for decades.
Standards are set in stone, with airlines like BA having specific requirements, from “natural” hair colour, and ‘professional’ hair styles and beards for men. Smart uniforms, women in skirts only, high heels, immaculate make up, and not too long ago an ‘attractiveness’ factor was also in effect, although more subtle in its implementation, was common.
Women’s rights were – and are in most cases – still sublimated to corporate requirements – only recently BA was found to have legally gagged female pilots from speaking to a parliamentary investigation into maternity policies.
So when one of the most arguably sexist airlines – at least in terms of marketing and presentation – Virgin Atlantic – who have remorselessly used female staff in advertising, have decided to allow staff to go makeup free, it’s a big deal.
The airline has been trying to change the perception of how its seen for a few years. Gone are the ads featuring glamorous women on the arms of a pilot, and it won’t be long before they move away from the rather English and snooty sounding “Upper Class” label for its flagship seating product. Rumour has it that a more inspirational and descriptive branding is coming, but that wouldn’t really be a shock, indeed it sounds like it’s a bit over due.
In the end quality of service delivery, the way you’re treated on board, that’s what matters. Wether or not the crew member is wearing make up is hardly the point. Time we all moved on and good for Virgin Atlantic for making some effort to push the boundaries. What took you so long?