British Airways joins 21st century and drops trouser b...

British Airways joins 21st century and drops trouser ban for female cabin crew

05 February 2016

British Airways has been forced to lift a ban stopping some of its female cabin crew wearing trousers after pressure from Britain’s largest union, Unite, it was announced today (Friday 5 February).

Thanks to the Unite campaign female cabin crew on British Airways’ 3,000-strong mixed fleet workforce will now have the choice of wearing trousers on board the aircraft. Unlike their non-mixed fleet colleagues management had insisted that unless the request was due to medical or religious grounds, female cabin crew on the airline’s mixed fleet had to wear a skirt. 

The move which sees British Airways join the 21st century in introducing a common uniform policy like other airlines, such as easyJet, came after Unite representatives ran a test case through the company’s internal procedures. It is also follows a recent survey in which 83 per cent of female Unite members working on the airline’s mixed fleet said they wanted the option of wearing trousers. 

Since 2012 all of British Airways new cabin crew employees join what’s called the mixed fleet and fly alongside longer serving non-mixed fleet colleagues to a combination of long and short haul destinations. Over 2,100 of the airline’s 3,000 mixed fleet cabin crew have joined Unite which also represents another 10,000 crew at the airline.

Commenting Matt Smith Unite regional officer said: “This has been a long running campaign against British Airways management’s continual refusal to allow female cabin crew on its mixed fleet the option of wearing trousers.

“It was ridiculous that 46 years after the ‘Made in Dagenham’ women won the right to equal pay that companies like British Airways were still employing old fashioned views and treating women differently.  

“British Airways’ stance was unbefitting of a modern airline in the modern age and demonstrates that Unite will not allow cases like this to go unchallenged.

“Not only is the choice to wear trousers a victory for equality it is also a victory for common sense and testament to the organising campaign of our members. 

“Female cabin crew no longer have to shiver in the cold, wet and snow of wintery climates, but also can be afforded the protection of trousers at destinations where there is a risk of malaria or the Zika virus.

“Now that this issue has been resolved, we look forward to carrying on working with the company to increase the pay, terms and conditions of our members who make British Airways the global success it is today.”


For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.