With airlines constantly raising ticket prices while cutting costs, it might sometimes seem like flying in style is a definite thing of the past. However, some airlines have opted to go the extra mile (high) by dressing flight attendants in fashionable, sleek, sophisticated and in many cases, quite memorable uniforms.
Obviously any uniform should take into consideration functionality: attendants need to be able to move around, sometimes lifting heavy luggage or bending down and reaching to retrieve objects from tight spaces. The uniform should also fit a variety of body types (not every flight attendant looks like a runway-ready model). Perhaps most importantly, it should be comfortable and look professional.
More than just for aesthetic reasons, the choice of a fashionable and memorable outfit has for some airlines, like Singapore Airlines, become a symbol of the airline itself. Taking a nod from this, many airlines have been jumping at opportunities to team up with world-renowned designers who will help ensure their cabin crews have a striking appearance. Of course, sometimes airlines might try just a little too hard to be trendy. From chic details to sleek silhouettes, here are the airlines that have made sure their cabin crews put their best foot forward while in the air.
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10 Air Canada Rouge
The Air Canada Rouge uniforms are undeniably hip. Characterized by grey pants, a pop of burgundy with comfortable cardigans and sweater-vests in the deep rouge color, along with a colorful jewel-hued neck scarves for women and ties for men, these unique outfits make for an overall perky and very trendy feel inside the cabin. The flight attendants can also wear a fedora with their outfit, which evoke the atmosphere of a music video more than an airplane. It’s no surprise that the shoes are also memorable– designed in grey with touches of red – because the uniforms resulted from a design collaboration with Canadian shoe designer John Fluevog. The only problem with this outfit, however, is that it will likely prove to be too trendy to enjoy much longevity.
9 Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia
Banana Republic designed the current Virgin America flight attendant uniforms. The outfits feature separates for both the men and women, with the male attendants sporting dark pants and button-up dress shirt, while women can opt to wear a classic black skirt (that just verges on the short side) and blouse with a colorful, classic neck scarf. Meanwhile, Vivienne Westwood designed the sleek and exciting red uniforms sported by cabin crews on Virgin Atlantic, which feature unique “frill” blouses. Finally, Virgin Australia deserves a bonus mention for its bright red uniforms with purple accent scarves, which were created by a Project Runway Australia winner.
8 Bangkok Airways
Fashion label Asava created this recognizable outfit, which features bright shades of blue (they also happen to be the airline’s corporate colors). It’s perhaps one of the more colorful airline uniforms. The designer who created the outfits has said that the different shades of blue stripes represent blue waves and the sky. As a result, this outfit feels fresh, bright and carefree – a good feeling to evoke when flying.
Designed by high street British fashion house Simon Jersey, the Emirates uniform is the epitome of sleek and sophisticated and evokes the traditional style of the region where the airline is based. Men on Emirates wear subtle brown suits with cream-colored shirts and brown ties, while the distinctive women’s outfits feature polished tan skirt suits and brown and red pinstripes, a cream blouse, and a pop of rich red that flashes from pleats in the skirts and on the red caps that have cream-colored half veils.
All black with pops of red and pink hues, there is something both mysterious and exciting about the Qantas uniforms. Designed by Martin Grant, the men and womens’ uniforms are exciting and colorful – it almost feels like the flight attendants walked out of a great spy novel - without being unprofessional. The mostly-black uniforms are just businesslike enough to be appropriate for the daily duties of a team of flight attendants.
5 Porter Airlines
Canadian airline Porter takes a cue from a more glamorous era of travel with its uniforms that evoke the jet age. Kimberley Newport-Mimran, the designer behind upscale label Pink Tartan, designed the outfits. The women’s uniform features a clean silhouette and traditional style neck scarf. The look is topped off with a very retro pillbox hat. It is at once professional and feminine.
4 Thai Airways
Colorful and in bright jewel tones, the outfits that flight attendants wear in-flight on Thai Airways are traditional and graceful, complete with long skirts, sophisticated jackets, rich fabrics and flowery accents. To see one of these uniforms, however, you must be in the air: Thai Airways has a policy that women are only allowed to wear this outfit on the plane (they must change into a purple suit when on the ground), making them one of the few airlines with such a change policy. Men also have a different jacket to wear in-flight. Cabin crew members with nationalities other than Thai are not allowed to wear the traditional uniforms.
3 Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines flight attendants famously wear a very glamorous uniform based on a traditional Sarong Kebaya. The outfit, which was originally designed by French designer Pierre Balmain in decadent traditional batik material, has actually been in continuous use (with only minor changes) since 1972 and has come to be a major symbol of the airline. The different colors signify the wearer’s status and responsibilities: for example, cabin attendants wear blue while the chief attendant wears red.
2 Korean Airlines
Famed Italian designer Gianfranco Ferré designed the Korean Airlines uniform, which is characterized by a peaceful and soft, pretty light blue and creamy white separates. The designer used fabrics that would be particularly comfortable and easy to move in, keeping in mind the flight attendants’ responsibilities during a long flight. The light blue and white blazers and blouses and white skirt and pant options ensure that the attendants look professional and modest, yet also memorable. As a bonus, a whimsical hair tie secures the ladies’ locks and ties the entire outfit together.
1 Air France
Female Air France flight attendants can opt to serve the cabin in style by wearing a very sophisticated dress with bright red sash designed by famed French clothier Christian Lacroix. It is at once effortless and elegant, and goes without saying that this ladies’ uniform adds a high fashion touch to the cabin of any Air France flight. The dress certainly evokes a classic feel of French taste and practically guarantees that the flight attendant will likely be dressed better than most travellers. (It’s a shame that the rest of us can’t pick up one of these dresses in a duty free shop.) If for some reason one of the flight attendants doesn’t want to sport the chic dress, Lacroix designed dozens of interchangeable and chic looks for the men and women to choose from.
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