Once upon a time, a self-proclaimed Archaeology-Lifer got a job as a flight attendant. No one knows quite how it happened. Here's what happened next...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Airline Grooming Policies

When the show Pan Am came out (sadly it has now been cancelled) I noticed a flurry of comments and opinions on airline grooming standards.  Many seemed to find the way in which the flight attendants in the show were expected to adhere to strict policies surprising, and some thought that such a thing would never happen today.  Well... I can say that The Airline has never made me get one a scales, thank goodness (although I know other airlines that do include regular weighing schedules for their flight attendants).  However, while things are perhaps slightly more lenient these days, my grooming manual is still twelve pages long.  And I work for a relatively relaxed airline.

Out of interest, I thought I would share a few choice excerpts from the manual, including instructions on uniform and on appropriate self-conduct.

  • You shall be aware of the impact that you have on the public when wearing the company uniform.
  • You shall present an image of self-awareness and self-care with a professional look.
  • Personal variations or individual additions to the uniform are prohibited.
  • You shall carry a sewing kit at all times in order to ensure the uniform is in good repair.  (Personally I am not a huge fan of being instructed to carry a sewing kit.  While I see the sense in it, I feel like my next order would be to make a damned sandwich.)
  • The uniform shall appear freshly cleaned and pressed at all times.  (Fair enough, but then the material it's made of means that the second you sit down the whole thing creases to hell anyway.)
  • Good posture and carriage shall be maintained at all times.  (You try having good posture on the way back to the hotel after a red-eye then...)
  • Gum chewing in not acceptable at any time while in uniform. (The only bit that is bolded in the whole manual...which I find rather odd considering the following instruction prohibits consuming alcohol or going to a bar at any time in uniform...makes you wonder where the priorities lie....)
  • Re-application of makeup, or styling of hair, shall not be done in public view.  (Yes, this prohibits me from putting on lipstick in a public washroom...who the hell cares?)
  • When eating in uniform and in view of public, Flight Attendants shall be seated. (... seriously?)
  • Flight Attendants are required to conduct themselves in a mature and responsible manner in all dealings with the Company.  (This one actually makes me LOL)...
  • Conversation in the presence of customers shall give the impression that the Company is a professional and efficient organization of courteous and friendly employees.  \
  • Skirts may not be hemmed any shorter than 1" above the knee.
  • Hair shall be clean, neat, and dry and worn so as not to fall into your face ... Hair colouring should be well maintained (translation: No roots!)  ...trendy styles are unacceptable.  When tied back, hair shall not fall below the shoulder blades at the back (So if you've got super long hair, it's a nun-bun or the chop).
  • (Here comes my favourite... make up!)  The intent of cosmetics to improve one's appearance in the airline industry is to support an image of alertness and confidence which is important to passenger safety perceptions (There you have it, folks.  We are so concerned with your safety, even our MAKE UP is in on the game).  Moisturizer and foundation shall be applied prior to makeup application to help combat cabin dryness (The moisturizer, yes, but the foundation? Hells no). ....Heavy dark makeup is not permitted. (I used to be a huge fan of green eye make up on the red-eyes...because literally red eyes are not attractive and the green toned it down a bit.  Only with cool flight directors, though).
  • As a flight attendant, your hands may be seen by your passengers as often as your face.  Nails shall be well groomed and manicured at all times. (I got told off on a few occasions because I'm not really the get-a-manicure kind of girl.  Apparently having bare nails looks "cheap".  I had to bite my tongue not to reply that the lipstick on the accuser's teeth also looked cheap.)
  • Contact lenses are preferred to glasses... Sunglasses are not to be work in terminal buildings, hotels, on the aircraft or anywhere you may be in contact with passengers.  ...They may never be pushed up on top of the head.
  • ...all footwear must be approved by in-flight services.
  • Pearl or diamond stud earrings may be worn, provided they are are in good taste (How exactly does one find pearl or diamond studs that aren't in good taste?)
  • It is not permitted to wear a necklace at anytime (Absolutely NO ONE adheres to this rule).
AS FOR THE BOYS (yep, they have grooming rules too, although perhaps more relaxed than the ladies...)

  • Hair shall not fall forward and shall not conceal the top of your ears and appear unkempt.  The back of hair shall not touch the top of the collar, but not to be so short as to show scalp....Hair shall be kept clean, neat, dandruff free and conditioned regularly.  (The dandruff bit is another LOL).
  • Sideburns shall be no longer than mid-ear level...they shall be trimmed frequently to avoid the appearance of being bushy.  Moustaches shall not extend below the corner of the mouth.  The upper lip shall be visible and false, waxed or curled moustaches are not permitted.  Full beards are not permitted.
So there you have it, choice excerpts from the Grooming Standards of The Airline.  And I even cut out the boring bits!  And, so you have a visual, here's me in my uniform last year.  This was a skinnier time, so the uniform got a little loose.  Also, please ignore the fact that it's a lame "take a picture in the mirror" kind of shot. 


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Flight Attendant's ABCs - F (foxtrot) is for...

  • Ferry Flight - One of the most exciting things for an FA to see on the schedule.  A ferry flight is basically a flight which serves to position the airplane from one place to another...WITHOUT PASSENGERS.  It's like free money.  You get paid to sit on a plane for however long, and do whatever you feel like.  Some particularly mean Flight Directors (see below) may make you work during this time, cleaning the aircraft and such, but for the most part it is widely understood that this time can be reserved for sleeping, reading, or other general relaxation activities.  I personally enjoy to spend the whole time in the flight deck, picking up tidbits of information and storing them away for future use.
  • Final Approach - A time during which the aircraft is lined up with the runway and about to land.  It's a time during which everyone is supposed to be seated with their seat-belts secure.  Flight attendants included.  So don't get mad if you're ringing the call button and we don't magically materialize at your side.  And no, it's probably not the best time for you to get your bag out of the overhead bin, either. :)
  • Flight Director - (also known as In-Flight Director, Purser, etc).  The lead flight attendant on any flight.  Apparently someone has to be in charge, and since the Pilots are locked away in the flight deck, one flight attendant takes charge of the rest of the cabin crew.  Some are wonderful and friendly and have a decent work ethic, and so your flight will be relaxed with a good "team spirit".  Other Flight Directors....well let's just say that they are type who will write you up for wearing more than one ring on each hand or not having lipstick on.  In most cases I often find that the Flight Director sets the tone for the whole trip.
  • Flight Attendant - 
Next time... G (golf) is for...