British Airways is revamping its uniforms for the first time in 20 years, and the new collection includes a jumpsuit. The redesign is aimed at shaking off any negative reputation the airline may have had and is following in the footsteps of rival airline, Virgin Atlantic, which allows its male pilots and crew to wear skirts and female colleagues to choose trousers.

The new uniform, designed by Ozwald Boateng, also includes a tunic and hijab. However, the process of getting the clothes from the design phase to the plane took nearly five years, with two years of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

British Airways introduces new uniform including jumpsuits and hijab.
© British Airways

During that time, Mr. Boateng’s designs were put through various tests, including being worn by BA’s outdoor workers in freezing temperatures and pouring rain. The collection is set to be rolled out in spring for BA’s 30,000 staff. Men can choose to wear a three-piece suit, while women have the option of a dress, skirt, or trousers. Staff will also be able to order different cuts and have a fitting to make the uniform more tailored.

The jumpsuit, which is primarily intended for female check-in staff, may be available for cabin crew by the middle of the year after further testing. Female cabin crew have already been testing the new uniform and have made suggestions for changes. Emma Carey, a cabin crew member, said, “The pockets on the apron, for example, were widened after the trial so we had more room for everything we need during meal services on board.” Engineers have also requested tool pockets and ground handlers have asked for gloves made from fabric that works with touch screens.

Last year, Virgin Atlantic announced it was taking a “fluid approach” to uniforms, allowing staff to choose their clothing regardless of their gender. However, this policy does not apply to crew on board the England football team’s flight to the World Cup in Qatar, which has been criticized for its treatment of LGBT people.

A spokesperson for BA stated that although its uniforms are gendered, the airline has a policy that allows staff to wear what they identify with. “As a colleague, you can chat to us about that and you can wear what you want. We’ve got a number of transgender colleagues, and have had that policy for decades,” he said. BA also relaxed its dress code last year by allowing male pilots and cabin crew to wear makeup and nail varnish.