Why This Flight Attendant Is Removing A Visible Tattoo
Ab Flores, a flight attendant who works out of Chicago in the United States, is living her dream. “When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a flight attendant. That was my dream job,” she says. She watched the flight attendants on the plane while travelling to Mexico (where her mom was from) with her family and knew that was what she wanted to do.
The only problem is, the industry has a strict culture of frowning upon or outright banning all visible tattoos. But Ab didn’t think about that when she was 18 when she got her first tattoo. A friend did it for $40 USD (about $51 AUD), and just like that, she was stuck with an “ugly dandelion” on her wrist and forearm that would affect her career prospects.
“If it’s exposed, you’re going home.”
Having a tattoo is a huge compliance issue in Ab’s field. Flight attendants are the face of an airline’s brand, so appearance is critical.
When asked how to become a flight attendant, Ab explained that she attended the International Air and Hospitality Academy in Vancouver, Washington, where they emphasised how all carriers forbid visible flight attendant tattoos. “It was talked about consistently—‘If we see a tattoo on you, if it’s exposed, you’re going home.’ And it happened plenty of times,” she says. These participants were strapped with a huge financial burden, having already quit their jobs to train.
2020 Uniform Regulations and Appearance Standards
Because different carriers have different dress regulations, what is visible can vary. Here are a few examples of dress codes:
- Qantas requires their crew members to keep a neat and tidy appearance. This means hair must be pulled back (ponytail or bun) for hair longer than the shoulders. Crisp, tailored uniforms are also fire retardant and non-absorbent. They also specify no visible tattoos.
- Virgin Australia has similar requirements to Qantas. Crew members are typically required to wear flat-soled shoes, with the Louise M and the Louise M Block Heel being the two most popular shoe styles for cabin crew members.
- Other airlines in Asia and the Middle East have strict requirements for appearance. For example, Emirates has specified that nail polish colour must be clear or match the colour of the attendant’s lipstick. They also don’t allow artificial hair colouring, and highly recommend Vitamin C masks during rest periods to maintain a healthy glow.
Learn more about how to become a flight attendant on our continued list of flight attendant uniform and appearance policies
Tattoo Location Plays A Huge Part
Generally, tattoos in prominent places like the hands, wrists, and sometimes forearms are a no-go. Many airlines allow female flight attendants to wear a scarf that could cover a small tattoo, depending on where it is positioned. They often require a neat updo hairstyle, though, which can make it difficult to cover a tattoo that sits higher on the neck or behind the ear.
Ab had gotten used to hiding her tattoo, but that’s not a foolproof plan. “If the CEO of our company comes on, and I have my tattoo visible, I’m gonna get fired,” she says. “There’s no sugarcoating it; you will be sent home.” A passenger or another staff member could report her tattoo if they saw it. If she’s working with high-class business travellers, that will start to weigh on her mind. “It freaks me out,” she says. That’s why she’s currently removing her tattoo. She’s already had several sessions with Removery and is excited to see it fade away.
Tattoo Removal Brings Peace Of Mind For Ab
“I love my job. It’s a great job,” Ab affirms. She enjoys the travel and the way she gets to just hop on a plane without going through lengthy lines. She actually lives in the state of Texas, even though her job is based out of Chicago, and she appreciates getting to commute to her chosen home base. Though this means spending a lot of time in the Chicago O’Hare airport, the travel perks are huge. She loves visiting friends on her frequent layovers in Nashville, for instance. Now, she’s doing what it takes to boost her level of job security. She also doesn’t love the tattoo itself. “I definitely would love for it to go away,” she says. “It’s bad; it really needs to go.”
Anyone who wants to become a flight attendant should seriously consider removing any visible tattoos, Ab advises. “Getting it removed is definitely an amazing option,” she asserts. “I think everyone should follow their dreams, and if it’s one little thing, one little visible tattoo, it should go.”