United Airlines will postpone indefinitely the launch of new uniforms for flight attendants, pilots, and other work groups, citing cost concerns.
I suspect that new uniforms are the last things on the mind of most United workers these days, but new uniforms have been in the works since early 2019 and will be produced by three different brands:
- Brooks Brothers – pilots, male flight attendants and male customer service representatives
- Trace Reese – female flight attendants and female customer service representatives
- Carhartt – ramp service, technical operations and catering operations employees
You can see a full gallery of the new uniforms here.
The Carhartt uniforms for ramp services, catering and technical operations employees debuted last year. As last as my flight from Newark to Cape Town last month, at least one flight attendant was wearing the Trace Reese uniforms (she complained about it when I complimented her on how nice it looked).
Here’s what United told employees:
Given the unprecedented situation we’re facing and the impact of COVID-19 on our business, we’re taking steps – big and small – to carefully manage our costs so we can weather this crisis. This means that we have to make some difficult decisions in the near term to better secure our long-term success.
We remain committed to completing the design process this summer as planned, incorporating the feedback we’ve received from your peers following the latest wear test …We’ll share additional details about timing and next steps for the Brooks Brothers/Tracy Reese program as the situation evolves and decisions are made.
Bottom line, no new date for the uniform rollout…I suspect it will be quite some time.
I’m just a customer and can only comment on my own design preference, not comfort or fit, but I actually like the present uniforms and will be glad to see the stick around a while longer. But the fact that this project has been placed on hold so late in the game demonstrates how much United is in cash-saving mode right now.
> Read More: Oh, United…The New Uniforms
Sadly, the last few uniform rollouts by US carriers have been absolutely disastrous, generally being co-opted by labor as bargaining leverage, not to mention PR nightmares with mysterious illnesses, class action lawsuits, and reducing morale.
It’s a pure cost item and a distraction right now. My experience is consistent with yours, and the perception of employees regarding the uniforms seems negative.
Since UA stole (or was forced to copy) Continental’s livery, UA should just use a proven design, like stealing Air Canada’s design. AC is also Star Alliance
Good. I’ve seen them tested at Laguardia Airport by two of the agents.
The peaked lapel suit is not only ugly, but it was starting to rip on male prototype, after only five days of use.
I also don’t mind using Green/Blue Aqua and Premium Purple as accent colors, but purple should not be UA’s primary color. It’s such a copy of Delta.
I like the current uniforms! Keep them for two more years, and then start new uniforms that have blue as a primary color.
“I suspect that new uniforms are the last things on the mind of most United workers these days…”
You would be wrong about that. Or at least the last time I was at work (a couple weeks ago) we were talking about the hope that they’d cancel the hideous things as the one bright spot in this whole coronavirus disaster.
Praise be to God, and let’s all pray that postpone indefinitely actually means cancelled altogether. The designs were plain ugly, the styles would make it difficult to do our jobs, and the fabric was so cheap it wrinkled if you looked at it and wouldn’t last a week without tearing.
While ‘self-isolating’ I’ve amused myself watching some of the scores of vintage airline promotional films from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s available on YouTube. I’ve been struck by how simple and classic the cabin crew uniforms were and how smart the stewardesses and stewards looked wearing them.
Compare those crews-of-old with today’s flight attendants, who in North America are mostly dressed in ill-fitting, poorly thought-out uniforms. The United ensembles in the above photographs are absolutely god-awful and hopefully will never take to the skies. (What was United thinking???)
It also bothers me that FAs have SO. MANY. variations that can be worn. Per the united uniform manual from about 8 years ago, there are different portions that are to be removed or added for different phases of flight/service, which makes sense – remove a coat and add an apron. But that’s ALL it should be. But look at the gallery Matt linked to… there are 8 different styles of uniform for females. 8! I’ve been on UA flights in the past where every single FA was in a different version of the uniform at the same time. It’s so unprofessional and unkempt-looking, independent of the look and fit of the uniforms themselves. Why is it so hard for US carriers – and both UA and AA are terrible about this – to ensure that their uniforms are, well, uniform.
Agreed. Love the Turkish, old Alitalia, and Etihad uniforms.
In an emergency situation passengers need to follow the instructions given by flight attendants, and it’s therefore important that passengers be able to quickly recognize cabin crew members.
With that in mind, I don’t understand why any airline would want to dress their flight attendants in so many different looking uniform pieces. Because in a chaotic evacuation scenario, passengers may not be able to visually distinguish flight attendants from other passengers.