In an internal communication, the airline warned trainee flight attendants that any tattoos on the fingers, hands, face or neck will result in immediate expulsion.
Hard the measures also apply to those flight attendants who try to hide their tattoos with cosmetics. In recent weeks, there have been several reports of new flight attendants being laid off while still in school.
Airlines around the world are known for their strict uniform standards. These standards forbid flight attendants from displaying tattoos that cannot be hidden by this very uniform. However, in the last couple of years, these traditional rules have begun to be relaxed, and Southwest flight attendants seem to expect their employer to follow the general practice.
In 2022, United Airlines became one of the first airlines in the US to allow some visible tattoos, and a few months ago Breeze Airways followed United's lead by turning a blind eye to small tattoos on the fingers, arms, and even behind the ears.
< p>Virgin Atlantic made headlines last year when it allowed flight attendants to display tattoos of any size, as long as the designs weren't offensive. The decision is at the airline's discretion.
However, there is no airline that would allow flight attendants to have neck or face tattoos.
Air New Zealand may remain the only carrier that currently allows face tattoos – thanks in large part to the adoption of Tā Moko — a form of tattoo that is traditionally practiced by the indigenous Maori people and is often applied to the face.
In 2021, Canadian airlines were issued an injunction that they could not prohibit flight attendants from displaying visible tattoos, but an independent arbitration drew a line under tattoos on face and neck. Air Canada and Westjet can also fire flight attendants if they find their body art offensive.