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flight attendants pants

After watching this video and noticing these Super Jet Airline flight attendants are wearing pants, I asked myself why not all airlines have their flight attendants wear pants instead of dress/skirts so that they have more easy movement in case of emergency. I also noticed instead of dress/high heels shoes they are wearing a sport shoes which would also make it more versatile in case of emergency. After all, the safety of everyone onboard is their number one role, not serving food, drinks or being pretty(not that you can't do all of those at the same time anyway).

I mean, I can see that airline management probably wants to have a more formal dress code image of their airline, but probably that's something that has stuck trough the decades from the airlines early beginnings where every living soul was wearing dress/suit and air traveling was more for the business class.

If we look at todays airlines, the rise of low budget traveling, and the fact that if you look at most passengers whether it is a low budget airline or not, business class or not, I would say that more than 90% of passengers travel with casual dress code, in other words, in general, the flight attendants dress code doesn't match the ambient(their passengers) anyway.

flight attendants skirt

My point is, does a flight attendant wearing pants is faster/versatile(hence safer) than one wearing a dress and if so why don't we see more often pants attendants, or at least some safety guidance promoting it (if there isn't one already I'm missing)?

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Aviation Meta, or in Aviation Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Mar 28 at 4:40

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Some do. Despite my attempts, I've never successfully dared a cis male FA to wear a skirt...

As your picture very well illustrates, FA uniforms are a marketing billboard for the airline. Their employer wants them to look a certain way. And most of these employers want skirts and heels.

There is no practical reason for wearing skirts, heels, and nylons aboard an aircraft. The most practical option, both for normal flight and for emergency situations, would be pants and a hoodie. Fabrics are probably a bigger problem than skirts: practical materials would be a merino wool underlayer and a loose rougher wool outer layer with pants, with mid-calf or taller leather footwear. Note that Nomex isn't necessary - it's comparable to wool in fire resistance, but loses on heat regulation and odor resistance.

Early FA attire was almost practical, with flat shoes and natural fabrics, but still with skirts, since it was unusual for high-class women to wear pants in the early 20th century. Stockings these days were also made out of natural fabrics and didn't represent a danger.

Since then, high heels became more popular, and fabrics got worse. Many airlines want bright colors in their branding, which are much easier to achieve and maintain with synthetics than with wool or silk. Synthetics are easy to clean and hard to damage through abuse or improper washing. No shrinkage, no bleeding, no stains, and cheap to replace when hiring/firing.

Most current FA attire is impractical and impairs performance both in normal work, if heels or tight skirts are worn, and in case of emergency. That said, lungs remain the most vulnerable part of the human body. Synthetic fabrics will destroy the skin underneath if exposed to fire, but lung failure prevents the grimy consequences of plastic burns by killing one first. So there isn't a lot of fatalities due to burns, compared to smoke inhalation.

Are more practical or protective uniforms necessary? Depends. While air is the safest form of travel per mile, for professionals averaging thousands of miles per day, accidents do become a non-negligible factor in mortality. With an accident rate of ~1 per million departures, it takes 74 flights per year for an air accident to be as likely as a major driving accident in Europe. That's a lot for a passenger, but on the low end for cabin crew. Flight attendants aren't entertainment; it's a physical job, with a key role in the safety of the passengers aboard.

So it would probably be worthwhile to modernize FA uniforms. The heels, for one, impair performance to the point that they must be removed in an emergency, not to mention long-term health concerns. Gender norms have long since changed towards more unisex clothing. But there isn't any political or regulatory push for such a change at the moment.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Aviation Meta, or in Aviation Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Mar 28 at 4:38
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Because hostess needs to be attractive to a specific demography: old rich farts (applies to any gender). Same demography requires stewards to be dressed like penguins.

The Indonesian no-fril airline has no such target customers, and therefore they made a sensible choice for their hostesses.

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    $\begingroup$ Well no, they made an incredibly cynical marketing choice. Exactly as companies make, say "green-washing" cynical marketing-based choices to "signal" a certain totally-nonexistent ethic. $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Mar 27 at 18:46
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have their flight attendants wear pants instead of dress/skirts so that they have more easy movement in case of emergency.

The Scottish and Greek traditional dress for men includes skirts because it is easier for them to move (especially when it comes to climbing).

This is just an extra (historical, mostly) data point in the "what is better in case of emergencies" discussion.

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    $\begingroup$ The Scottish men indeed have dress skirt(called kilt) but those are very different than the ones used by flight attendants(they are not tight, as you said, they allow easier movement). Another point is, last time I checked, Scottish men that wear kilt don't wear high heels. $\endgroup$
    – Gabe
    Mar 27 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Gabe this was a semi-serious answer because it does not address the elephant in the room which is to make sure the female crew is sexy. I am not a historian but heard about the Scots' and Greeks' traditional attire as a true solution for the hilly environments they were dealing with. And that the Greek skirt is called a fustanella :) $\endgroup$
    – WoJ
    Mar 27 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ yeah I see your point and that's something of what I mentioned in the initial post about the airline management. Having said that, I honestly think a woman could wear pants and still be "attractive" if done correctly, if that's what management wants. But that's just my opinion. $\endgroup$
    – Gabe
    Mar 27 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ My Scot and Greek friends have been atypically quiet since I sent them your answer. All these years, they have been insisting it was their ancestor's abnormally large genitalia that demanded they prance around the hills wearing cute little dresses... $\endgroup$ Mar 28 at 6:07
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Three reasons:

  1. Sex sells. Ogling female flight attendants wearing heels and skirts that reveal their legs has long been a past-time of a certain audience. And many airlines executives are undoubtedly members of that particular audience.

  2. Fear of change. Change requires courage. Historically, airline executives have not demonstrated much courage. Quite the opposite, in fact. Historically, they tend to dig their heels in (proverbially) and get defensive when confronted with many industry issues.

  3. Passenger safety is not the biggest priority. Although a change in flight attendant wardrobe would likely improve passenger safety a little bit (can you respond to an emergency more efficiently in heels or flats?), most airlines prefer profits over safety. It will likely require forward-thinking people, or an incident in which people die that could have been easily prevented, to change the current stagnant culture.

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