American Airlines’ New Uniforms Debut Today

While the merger between American and US Airways officially closed in late 2013, the passenger experience is still far from consistent. One of the most obvious sign of that is the inconsistency in employee uniforms. You’ll get employees with completely different uniforms depending on whether you’re flying with an ex-American or ex-US Airways crew.

In late 2014 I wrote about how American is in the process of rolling out new employee uniforms, though that process has been slow. While the initial uniform concepts were revealed at the time, they’ve gone through all kinds of testing and revisions, and then of course it takes a while before they can actually be rolled out.

Well, the day has finally come. All of American’s more than 70,000 employees are wearing new uniforms as of today.

Here are some pictures of the new flight attendant uniforms:

American-Airlines-Uniforms-1

American-Airlines-Uniforms-2

And the new pilot uniforms:

American-Airlines-Uniforms-3

And the new uniforms for ground handlers:

American-Airlines-New-Uniforms-1

American-Airlines-New-Uniforms-2

The uniforms look sharp and unoffensive, which is necessary when you have a workforce as diverse as American’s, and when employees will often be wearing these uniforms for 18+ hours per day.

On one hand new uniforms don’t really impact the customer experience. At the same time, hopefully employees enjoy wearing the new uniforms and take pride in them, and maybe that will lead to an all around better experience for passengers.

USA Today has some interesting quotes from American executives regarding the new uniforms:

“It really shows us as one brand. And that was really the only thing that was still kind of lagging behind for customers – being able to see that come together,” says Brady Byrnes, American’s Director of Global Marketing. “It’s a huge milestone for us.”

“We’ve been investing quite heavily on everything from re-branding all of our airports to painting aircraft,” says Fernand Fernandez, American’s VP of Global Marketing. “This completes a lot of the customer-facing elements.”

This is the part that really frustrates me. As I’ve said a million times before, American’s ex-US Airways A320s and A321s (which represent a large part of the domestic fleet) haven’t been reconfigured with Main Cabin Extra, updated seats, entertainment, or power ports. It’s pathetic that the airline hasn’t even expressed their intentions to update these planes in any way.

So it’s great that they’ve been investing in re-branding and new uniforms, and have been painting aircraft, but how about a commitment to creating a uniform domestic fleet, with power ports at every seat, at a minimum?

Bottom line

The new uniforms were certainly overdue, and I hope they give employees a sense of pride in their work, and will lead to an overall better experience for customers. I just wish American were actually committed to creating a consistent experience across the two brands, rather than continuing to not invest in their domestic fleet.

What do you make of the new uniforms? If you’re flying American today, how do they look in person?

Comments

  1. I’ve never understood the point of male cabin crew wearing a suit jacket and tie on a plane. It is so impractical. They’re constantly lifting, reaching, serving, cleaning etc yet they dress them like they’re giving a sales pitch at a board meeting. A tie partly covered by a serving apron for a meal service looks absolutely ridiculous (I’ve thought the same thing about waiters in high-end restaurants).
    As Richard Branson famously said – ties serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever.
    Is there any logic to this other than ‘it looks professional’? Why are they trying to look like professional businessmen when they are doing fairly manual labour jobs? Neat chinos and a neat polo would be a far more practical uniform.

  2. Looks like typical crew wear. Maybe I’ll be more impressed tomorrow when I see them in person.

    As a passenger I don’t really care as long as the crew looks professional.

  3. I’m pretty excited for Air Canada’s fleet. It will be streamlined to 777’s, 787’s, A330’s, CS300’s and 737 MAX’s. All with wifi and all widebodies with PE and reverse herringbone.

  4. Yeah but wait till they accessorize and personalize these uniforms with tacky pins, styling, makeup, nails, lanyards, jewelry, piercings, friendship bracelets or whatever.

  5. Every single women’s uniform includes a silk neckerchief? Can’t wait to see how those perform in hot weather. I, for one, would never be able to leave it on. Maybe there will be location based uniform variations?

  6. Interesting insider info: if you had a trip that spanned from yesterday or before until today or after, AA forced you to take BOTH suits, meaning the crew’s carryons are filled with stuff they can’t use today.

  7. I appreciate a sharp uniform, especially with flight attendants. Maybe it’s the aspirational aspect of air travel, but I still get amused when a group of polished flight attendants pass me in the airport. The more casual attire (no scarves, cardigan) just looks too bummy.

  8. Are there variations? The reason I ask is Delta actually has nice uniforms in concept, but the problem is there are so many variations that much of the crew doesn’t have a uniform appearance. You’ll see a flight attendant in the gorgeous red dress while her colleague is wearing baggy pants, a swear and the vest. Or a male flight attendant will have the jacket, tie and slacks — clearly tailored — but be working next to a male flight attendant wearing a short-sleeved shirt, vest and pants. And don’t get me started on the pilots. Most of the pilots wear a short-sleeved shirt and seldom wear the jacket. I’m not sure if the hat is required because I don’t see it all the time.

  9. At DFW this morning and was in line at Starbucks and there was an FA behind me and I took a double take at her uniform as I didn’t recognize the scarf at first and then saw her AA badge. New uniforms look very sharp in person.

  10. @FNT Delta Diamond:

    My thoughts exactly. For EVERY American carrier. The body shapes/sizes are so “diverse” that it makes it hard for a lot of the FAs to look professional in clothes that were designed for less corpulent people. As a result, a lot of FAs look out of sorts in uniforms that didn’t take into account their bulges or Rubenesque curves. So we see the dumpiness of uniform modifications that are required so EVERYONE can wear the uniform. Anymore, we’re dealing with FA uniforms that are slightly better than coveralls you’d see a mechanic sporting.

    Even worse is that there are so many variations to allow for “comfort” and for different service times/types, that I’ve been on planes for both United and American where I don’t think any FAs were wearing the same actual uniform. Some with sweaters, some with vests, some with aprons, some with no accouterments. All of them ill-fitting and generally not particularly professional looking. If you have a chance, take a look at United’s uniform policy:

    https://unitedafa.org/docs/uniforms/appearance_standards.pdf

    There is page after page after page of modifications to the uniform. So, basically, the uniform isn’t uniform across their employees let alone one cabin crew on one single plane. It’s really kind of pathetic and a small but VERY noticeable aspect of American carriers that continues to have them behind the pack when it comes to respectable airlines.

  11. The raised collar on the dark-haired Caucasian female FA’s uniform is kinda Dracula-chic.

    And the guy in the cardigan is hot.

    Otherwise…meh.

  12. I totally agree with the comment about the A320 and A321. I hate the old US planes. They are so ghetto and outdated. In the past, I would avoid the old US hubs. Now that they have integrated the fleet, I never know if I’m going to have seat power. Yet they brag about the pathetic Gogo internet. I’m glad they are fixing the Gogo issue but come on…let’s have a consistent cabin across the brand. That’s more important than new uniforms.

  13. The uniform looks nice for the staff that’s in AC. But ever been to Hawaii where there’s no AC at Check-in? They wear aloha wear now but still look sweaty. I can’t imagine what a mess they’ll be in scarves.

  14. Employees take pride in their uniform and give better service? You’ve got to be kidding me!?

    And while people are moaning about consistency, I’d much rather they were comfortable with what they are wearing than forced to spend long hours in clothes they don’t like just so a bunch of snobs can approve of their appearance.

  15. You want ‘dressy casual’ fly
    Air Berlin….you want ‘classy uberclass’ fly BA…you want ‘working Stiffs’ fly AA …
    Want free mixed drinks in Y
    Fly INTERJET….

  16. Just saw the flight crew board at VCE. FA uniforms look great on all figures – very impressed. The pilots look exactly the same – short sleeve white shirt and tie with slacks (didn’t see a jacket or hat).

  17. Flew AA79 LHR-DFW yesterday (9/20) and noticed them when I boarded. One of the FAs was wearing the uniform shown in the 2nd picture here… the one with the new scarf.

    They do look nice in person. I think it’s an improvement.

    MUCH better than the drab stuff worn at UA, that’s for sure.

  18. Goodness, black uniforms. The pretzel salt will show. Why not a nice American blue? Take a look at the simple, professinal, practcal uniforms of the late 50’s. No frills, just uniforms that showed pride…both the cockpit crew and FA’s. Please put your caps on! Can’t tell a crew member from a bathroom attendant.

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