Virgin Atlantic has today updated its uniform policy to remove gendered clothing requirements in a move which has seen passengers criticise the airline for not focusing on passenger prices and experience instead.
Staff including plane crew and pilots will be able to choose which uniform they wear: the company’s ‘red’ option, previously most commonly worn by female flight attendants, or the ‘burgundy’ option, previously worn by male flight attendants.
This includes allowing men to wear skirts and women to wear trousers, as well as increasing the uniform options available to non-binary staff members.
They are also introducing pronoun badges in a bid to allow staff to ‘wear uniforms that express their true identity’.
The airline has teamed up with RuPaul’s Drag Race star Michelle Visage in a bid to ‘reflect the diversity of its workforce’ and ‘offer its people a fluid approach to its red and burgundy uniforms, meaning LGBTQ+ colleagues will be able to choose either the red or the burgundy uniform, depending on which best reflects themselves.’
The company said the change makes it ‘the most inclusive airline in the skies’ and its employees are among those who have praised the changes on social media.
But reaction to the new policies has been mixed online, with some praising the company’s diverse attitude while others claim it is a waste of time. Others have questioned why the company doesn’t give its staff a pay rise instead or lower ticket prices.
One social media user said: ‘I would bet that the majority of Virgin Atlantic staff would rather have a pay rise than this.’
The company will also roll out optional pronoun badges which enable staff and customers to display which pronouns they wish to be referred to by. The badges, available from today, can be requested at check-in.
Virgin describes today’s announcement as part of ‘an on-going drive to champion the individuality of its people and customers’ which includes allowing more customers to choose the gender-neutral ‘Mx’, ‘U’ or ‘X’ markers when booking their flights.
This option is available to all who have passports with ‘gender neutral gender markers’ – which includes passport holders in countries such as the USA, India and Pakistan, but not the UK.
Virgin is also introducing mandatory inclusivity training for all its staff at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Atlantic Holidays, as well as inclusivity learning for tourism partners.
The latest changes to company policy are part of the airline’s ‘Be Yourself’ campaign which earlier this year saw the airline become the first in the UK to allow staff to display their tattoos while at work.
In 2019 Virgin Atlantic was one of the first major airlines to drop a requirement for female cabin crew to wear makeup whilst on duty, as well as to wear trousers instead of a skirt.
Jaime Forsstroem, Cabin Crew at Virgin Atlantic said: ‘The updated gender identity policy is so important to me. As a non-binary person, it allows me to be myself at work and have the choice in what uniform I wear.’
Michelle Visage, Tanya Compas, Talulah-Eve and Tyreece Nye have teamed up with Virgin Atlantic to showcase the new policy in a stylised fashion shoot that has been released today.