British Airways to allow male crew to wear make-up and ‘man buns’ as it ends strict uniform rules

‘Gender expression’ rules allow staff to wear false eyelashes, nail varnish and carry a handbag

<p>Male pilots and cabin crew at British Airways will be allowed to wear make-up under new uniform rules (Photo: Getty Images / Adobe)</p>

Male pilots and cabin crew at British Airways will be allowed to wear make-up under new uniform rules (Photo: Getty Images / Adobe)

Male pilots and cabin crew at British Airways will be allowed to wear make-up, nail polish and accessories for the first time as part of an overhaul of uniform rules.

The airline has updated its strict guidelines with non-gender-specific rules, meaning all of its staff will be allowed to ‘be themselves’ at work.

The relaxation to the rules mean all members of staff can wear mascara, false eyelashes and earrings from Monday (14 November).

Male crew members will also be permitted to paint their nails (although neon and black colours remain off-limits), wear lipstick and take their luggage on board in a handbag, regardless of gender or gender identity.

Additionally, strict hair grooming rules have been eased, with male staff allowed to have longer hair and have “man buns”.

British Airways is keen that crew do not go overboard and has urged staff to use “subtle shades” of make-up and aim for a “natural look”, according to the updated rules. The ban on visible tattoos is still in place.

Male pilots and cabin crew at British Airways will be allowed to wear make-up under new uniform rules (Photo: Getty Images / Adobe)

‘Be bold, be proud’

The airline wrote to all staff this week to unveil the updated uniform policy which encourages employees to “be bold, be proud, be yourself”. However, there will be no changes to the airline’s physical uniforms as it will retain female-specific outfits.

A spokesman for British Airways said the company was “committed to an inclusive working environment”. He said in a statement: “We are proud of all of our colleagues at British Airways and we are committed to an inclusive working environment.

“We have worked with our people to create updated guidelines for grooming, beauty and accessories, allowing our colleagues to bring the best, most authentic version of themselves to work every day.”

It comes after British Airways said last year that it had dropped the “ladies and gentlemen” prefix in its on-board announcements in an attempt to make “all customers feel welcome”.

It follows similar moves by rival Virgin Atlantic to update its policies to reflect the diversity of modern society. Virgin was one of the first airlines to relax its rules on make-up in 2019 and in May became the first major airline to allow staff to display tattoos.

The airline said it would give its crew the choice of what uniform to wear and that its pilots, cabin crew and ground staff now have the option of wearing its red or burgundy uniform. Female Virgin Atlantic employees were previously required to wear a red uniform, while men wore burgundy.

Virgin said it would allow staff to choose whether they feel more comfortable wearing a skirt or trousers regardless of their gender so staff can “express their true identity”.

Crew will be able to pick which Vivienne Westwood-designed outfit they wear to work — “no matter their gender, gender identity or gender expression”.