Privatized Air India has updated its grooming and appearance standards and now more closely regulates balding and bans gray hair amongst cabin crew members. Are such policies reasonable?
Air India Bans Gray Hair, Restricts Blading For Cabin Crew
Gray hair is banned.
“Grey hair must be colored regularly only in a natural hair color. Salt and pepper look, and grey hair is not permitted with uniform.”
While male pattern balding is permitted, other types of balding now require that a flight attendant shave his head daily:
“Bald look is allowed for crew with male balding patterns. Crew with U and V shape hairline on crown, visible scalp and large bald patches must keep a full bald look. Head must be shaved daily for a clean look.”
Fancy hairstyles and dropping mustaches are not permitted (though it is not clear if these were permitted before either):
It’s easy to look at these issues from a western perspective and condemn them. The idea that flight attendants are not merely present for your safety, but also for your comfort is a tension point with many U.S. and Western European carriers. U.S. and European carriers also used to blatantly discriminate on the basis of age and body weight. While those days are largely over in the West, in much of the world such concerns still dominate.
For example, we can pick on Air India for its odd aversion to gray hair (as far as I am concerned, gray hair is the splendor of the old) but as far as I know other Indian carriers like Indigo and SpiceJet are far more discriminatory, placing age limits, stricter weight limits, and more punitive grooming standards on their all-female flight crews.
Two wrongs don’t make a right, but I am not sure “right” and “wrong” is the right way to think about this issue. On the other hand, I agree with One Mile At A Time that with a poorly-maintained fleet and totally uncompetitive premium cabin product, Air India has much bigger worries. That said, I understand that a carrier can walk and chew gum at the same time.
I’ve discussed my own view in the merit of looking “uniform” through strict uniform standards. The idea is not individualism but the opposite of it…and there is value in that. Here, I find the odd fixation on youth a strange thing from my perspective, but I quite understand that my worldview is quite different than many others.
As Air India seeks to reinvent itself, I hope we can all agree that it must place its primary focus on updating its business class product.
What are your thoughts on the latest Air India grooming and appearance guidelines?
image: Air India