When you think of a pilot, you probably have an image in mind of someone in a very neat uniform who looks well put together.
The flight crew, including the stewards, are expected to look very professional and smart and to also have a very uniform appearance.
The women are expected to style their hair a certain way, paint their nails a particular color, and there are high expectations of the men too.
So what expectations are placed on pilots? Can they have piercings? Are they allowed tattoos? What kind of facial hair can they grow? Keep reading to find out more about the pilot dress code.
Can Pilots Have Piercings?
Each airline varies depending on their guidelines for how they want the staff to dress. However, most airlines have a strict rule against facial piercings.
Even having visible holes where the piercings used to be could be unacceptable for some airlines.
There is some bias between the sexes with a lot of airlines. It is often the case that female pilots or stewards are allowed to wear very small studs or earrings, but men aren’t allowed to wear any earrings at all.
If you are interviewing for a job at an airline, it is recommended to remove any piercings beforehand.
You may even want to remove the piercing in plenty of time to let it heal before the interview, as some airlines are very fussy.
Can Pilots Have Tattoos?
Most airlines do not let any of their employees working on an aircraft have any visible tattoos. Some tattoos are easy to hide if they are on certain parts of your body, such as underneath your uniform.
Keep in mind that a pilot uniform often consists of a short-sleeved shirt, so even arm tattoos could cause an issue.
If you already have a tattoo and you want to apply for a pilot position, you should consider which airline is most likely to accept your body art.
Keep an eye out when you are at the airport to see which airlines have employees with visible tattoos – they will be few and far between but there might be a few.
If you know from a young age that you want to be a pilot or an air steward then it is best to avoid getting tattoos.
But what if you already have tattoos? There are things you can do to try and cover up your tattoos. You can apply coverage makeup to your tattoos, but you will have to do this before every shift.
Coverage sleeves are also an option, though they don’t look very professional. They can work quite well underneath a white shirt to prevent the tattoos from being visible, but they could be uncomfortable.
A more permanent option is laser removal. This is only suitable if you don’t mind losing your tattoos forever, as they will be removed completely.
This isn’t an option if you have an emotional attachment to your tattoos. It is also quite expensive, so not everyone will be able to afford it.
What Kind Of Facial Hair Can Pilots Have?
A lot of airlines don’t let pilots have any facial hair at all, while others allow a well-maintained mustache. Most modern airlines allow facial hair if it is less than half an inch in length and is neat.
But why are the guidelines around facial hair so strict? It is less to do with appearance and more to do with safety.
During an emergency on the aircraft, the pilot still needs to be able to operate the plane. This means that they need to be able to continue to fly whilst wearing an oxygen mask.
If the pilot’s facial hair is too long then it could prevent the oxygen mask from forming a tight seal, which means the pilot won’t get enough oxygen.
If the pilot is starved of oxygen this could not only result in a hypoxic brain injury for the pilot, but they will be unable to land the plane safely to protect the passengers.
Passenger Flights Vs Other Flights
How strict an airline is on the dress code and appearance of the pilots and other staff will depend on what type of flight it is.
If it is a passenger flight then the dress code will be quite strict, as the airline wants to make a good impression on their customers. Private flights are also likely to be strict even though there won’t be as many passengers.
If the flight is carrying cargo rather than passengers then the rules around the appearance of the pilot will be more relaxed and there will be fewer people to see them.
However, the dress code rules that are based on safety rather than appearance will still apply.
What Else Do You Have To Consider Before Becoming a Pilot?
The strict dress code is just one of the many factors you have to consider before you decide to pursue a career in flying. There are other strict requirements that you will need to meet, not including passing the training.
There are quite a few health conditions that will prevent you from being able to become a pilot. Certain heart diseases and allergies are a big problem, along with conditions like epilepsy.
Poor hearing or poor vision can also prevent you from being approved as a pilot. Especially concerning is color blindness, though there may still be some circumstances that you will be able to fly under such as daylight flying.
Having a history of diagnosed mental health conditions could also be a hurdle if you intend to pursue a career as a pilot.
Flying can be mentally draining, with long hours, a lot of responsibility, and much time spent away from home.
Many airlines provide a lot of support to their pilots, but they might not hire you initially if they doubt your mental resilience.
As a pilot, you must pass regular drug tests that are done randomly to ensure that you are fit to handle an aircraft.
You should avoid using recreational drugs if you want to be a pilot and any over-the-counter medication that could cause drowsiness.
You should also ensure that you have not consumed any alcohol without 8 hours of flying a plane.
If you have a criminal record then it is unlikely that you will be able to get your pilot license. This is because both the FAA and the airlines themselves have very strict requirements for pilots to have a ‘good moral standing’.
As a pilot, you are responsible for a lot of lives and you need to take your role very seriously.
Once you have obtained your license, you still have a few more hoops to jump through depending on which type of pilot you want to be.
If you want to become a commercial pilot then you need to have logged 1500 hours of flight time, but if you want to be a long haul pilot then you will need 5000 hours of flight time.
Certain airlines also have their requirements and competition can be fierce.
There are many strict requirements and expectations placed on pilots, including their appearance. When it comes to piercings and tattoos, there are very few airlines that allow pilots to have them.