Virgin Atlantic will allow its cabin crew to show tattoos, making it the first UK airline to do so.
After launching a branding campaign a month ago in which Virgin champions individuality, and as the aviation industry scrambles to recruit more people in key roles as demand bounces back from the pandemic, Virgin announced the change in its policy.
Sir Richard Branson’s airline, like most carriers, has until now banned visible tattoos, only hiring staff who could conceal any ink work under their uniform.
The airline’s official website states that Virgin Atlantic “has always encouraged its people to bring their true selves to work and to the skies, and to take pride in what makes them special.”
Estelle Hollingsworth, Virgin Atlantic’s chief people officer, said restrictions were being relaxed “in line with our focus on inclusion and championing individuality”.
Hollingsworth explains that Virgin wants everyone to be themselves and know that they belong.
“Many people use tattoos to express their unique identities and our customer-facing and uniformed colleagues should not be excluded from doing so if they choose. That's why, in line with our focus on inclusion and championing individuality, we're relaxing our tattoo restrictions for all our people. We're proud to be the airline that sees the world differently and allows our people to truly be themselves.”
Facial and neck tattoos will remain banned for flight attendants for now, although the airline is considering relaxing the rules at a later date.
At least for now, facial and neck tattoos will be prohibited, but the airline may consider adjusting the policy in the future.
In general, tattoos containing swear words, those deemed culturally inappropriate, or those that depict nudity, violence, or drugs are prohibited.
See the World differently
Virgin's latest branding campaign, See the world differently, celebrates diversity and the uniqueness of its people and customers - "loving every inch of yourself and taking pride in what makes you special." One of the talents has tongue piercings which trigger airport security.
However, Virgin said such piercings would still not be allowed for the crew.
The changes coincide with the aviation industry's struggle to find enough staff to fill its posts, including cabin crew, thousands of whom were laid off during the pandemic.
After hiring 500 new crew members in January, Virgin Atlantic expects to hire 300 more as travel demand picks up.