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Qantas ditches gender-specific uniforms

written by Jake Nelson | June 13, 2023

Qantas is relaxing gendered uniform restrictions, scrapping its specific male and female uniforms.

The Flying Kangaroo has updated its dress code for the first time in a decade, and will now allow all employees, regardless of gender, to wear flat shoes, long hair in a ponytail or bun, makeup, and the same jewellery including watches.

In place of the old male and female uniform requirements, the airline has introduced uniform “capsules” specifying which pieces can be worn together. Tattoos must still be concealed and name tags with first names worn, and employees wearing dresses or skirts are required to wear hosiery.

Qantas has also clarified guidelines for employees with curly hair, as well as those with cultural or religious style preferences. The new updates apply to cabin crew, pilots and airport employees across both Qantas and Jetstar, as well as staff in Qantas Lounges and Qantas Freight operations.


A Qantas spokesperson said the “iconic uniform” is not changing, and customers can still expect to see “high standards of grooming and attention to detail”.

“We’re proud of our diversity and as well as bringing our guidelines up to date. These changes will make wearing our uniform more comfortable and practical for all of our people, including those with a wide range of body types and those from diverse cultural backgrounds,” the spokesperson said.

“Our uniform standards have always been reflective of the times. In the 80s, sideburns had to stop at mid ear, ‘gelled spikes’ were out and we recommended navy blue as the best eyeliner colour. In the 70s, women had to wear skirts above the knee.

“Today, our employees can choose whether or not to wear makeup, flat shoes and boots are in, and strict rules on watch sizes are out.”

The update comes more than a year after the Australian Services Union (ASU) wrote to CEO Alan Joyce saying the airline should “move its uniform policy into the 21st century”.

“We believe that all aspects of the Qantas brand must reflect today’s diverse and inclusive Australia, including the Qantas uniform. While airline uniforms have come a long way since the age of miniskirts and towering heels, there’s still a way to go,” the union wrote in February last year.

In a statement, ASU Victorian Private Sector Branch Secretary Imogen Sturni said: “We pushed this issue with Qantas because workers care deeply about inclusion, diversity, and equality regardless of gender or background.

“Some of the dress code requirements were bordering on ridiculous, such as make-up style guides and a requirement for women to wear smaller watches than men. It was time that uniform requirements moved into the 21st Century and reflected the values of the people at Qantas.

“Today is a big win for workers and hopefully indicates cultural change in the management of Qantas. We are pleased to see Qantas has addressed the concerns the ASU has raised on behalf of members and have committed to working with them going forward.”

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Comments (2)

    • I had the good fortune to work for Qantas Empire Airways starting as an apprentice, for many years. All of us were very proud to be known as Qantas employees. It’s a far cry from those days! Continual fights between management and staff and there doesn’t seem to be too much employee satisfaction these days.

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