Leon picks his top three best, worst and weirdest airline uniforms.
Don’t you just love airline livery? Often (but not always – see below) well-designed, smart and lively, inflight uniforms must serve multiple purposes.
The first is a matter of aesthetics – they must look good and welcoming, and they should offer a psychological impression of confidence and care, automatically instilling trust.
The second is they must be comfortable and practical. After all, if a flight attendant is too busy worrying about their uniform they’ll be distracted from the real task at hand, which is to look after the comfort and safety of passengers.
The third is to be representative of the airline, and to, well, refer to point one.
Most airlines tick all the boxes, but some seem to miss the point. We’ve examined airline livery from around the world and today present the three best, worst and weirdest inflight uniforms.
Easily the most stylish uniforms in the sky, Air France’s uniforms are the epitome of simplicity in design – clean, smart and just so cool. You’d expect nothing less from French designer Christian Lacroix.
Hainan Airlines took haute (meaning ‘high’) couture to another level, debuting its flight crew’s amazing new uniforms at the 2017 Paris Couture Week. Designed by Laurence Xu, these elegant ensembles fuse traditional Chinese motifs with modern chic.
China Eastern Airlines
Another beautiful design by Christian Lacroix, the "simple, beautiful and dignified" stylings of China Eastern Airlines’ uniforms cannot be questioned. It’s just such a perfect blend of Shanghai style with traditional Chinese designs, confirming that Christian Lacroix is an absolute master of all forms of runway fashion.
Designed by the quirky clothing brand Moods of Norway, Norwegian Air’s livery is certainly ‘lively’. Plaid blazers, chequered vests and shirts with trims reading ‘Happy clothes for happy crew’, socks imprinted with ‘Remember: toothbrush. Be on time. Buckle up’ and other kooky travel tips were created by a trio with a design philosophy of "making grandmas happy is to make clothes for happy people around the world". Kind of cool, but not quite …
Iceland’s WOW air like pink so much so that it has smothered its female flight crew in bright, flamboyant fuchsia, magenta, magenta and pink. The guys don’t look too bad, with just a dash of fuchsia on the pale pink shirt and dark suits. The girls look fun and lively, but in my mind, there’s just too much pink.
There’s nothing good about this uniform. Even the flighties don’t like them, with common complaints that the skirts are so skimpy they can’t do their jobs properly. Imagine having to reach up into an overhead bin only to find your skirt up there with you?
Skymark may be a low-cost airline, but surely there are other ways to save money than skimping on skimpy skirts for staff?
For most of the year, Lufthansa flight attendants look super smart, although a little plain, in blue suit sets. But during the Oktoberfest season, out come the traditional Bavarian dirndls, which may look fine after a few steins, but they really don’t suit inflight livery. Still, can’t fault them for getting into the spirit of Oktoberfest!
Air Canada Rouge
We love all things Canada, except this Air Canada Rouge’s livery. Fedoras, garish neck scarves, ties that look like television test patterns on acid and boot-cut pants make these flight attendants look like jazz musician wannabees attending British boarding schools. Besides, burgundy and aqua do not an acceptable colour combination make. Not on the ground and certainly not in the air, where it could contribute to more cases of motion sickness than a rollercoaster after two hotdogs and a choc top ice-cream!
Now, this is clearly the weirdest uniform in the sky, but depending on who you ask, it could also be the best or worst. We’ll stick to weirdest. You absolutely have to give VietJet owner, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, points for originality, as her idea to have attractive women in sexy two-piece swimsuits made her Vietnam’s first female billionaire once her privately-owned airline was floated in 2017. The bikini-clad flighties have helped VietJet take a 30 per cent local market share and have helped create empowering images contrary to the otherwise conservative Vietnamese culture.
The uniform is not compulsory either: staff can wear either the bikini or traditional ao dai – a long tunic worn over loose pants.
Which is your favourite airline uniform on this list? If it’s not here, which one do you like?
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