British Airways Tattoo Policy in 2023 (Are Visible Tattoos OK?)

Securing a job in the skies as a flight attendant or a pilot is a dream for many.

Traveling the world, experiencing different cultures, and getting paid to do it? British Airways offers it all.

With that said, not everyone is eligible to become a member of the cabin or cockpit crew. One group of people continuously discriminated against are those with visible tattoos.

Despite the progressing world, airlines are still one of the strictest workplaces when it comes to their appearance policy — and that, unfortunately, also includes British Airways (BA).

If you’re a person with tattoos and thinking about joining their team, you should probably get familiar with the latest British Airways tattoo policy.

British Airways' tattoo policy highlights

British Airways Tattoo Policy – All You Need to Know

Despite a relaxing stance on tattoos amongst some of its main competitors (eg. Virgin Atlantic), British Airways still has one of the most conservative policies in the industry.

As of now, flight attendants and pilots are not allowed to have ANY visible tattoos while in the British Airways uniform.

While this is still better than the “zero tolerance policy” still in place at some carriers (eg. Qatar Airways), it disqualifies many talented people from the job.

Because the uniforms are different for male and female members of the staff, the tattoo-restricted areas are also slightly different.

Refer to the image below for a good view of the current tattoo restrictions for the British Airways cabin (and cockpit) crew.

British Airways tattoo-restricted areas
Current tattoo guidelines for British Airways employees

As you can see, the current banned areas are:

  • head, neck, arms, hands, and legs (lower thigh to feet) for women
  • head, neck, arms, hands for men

British Airways is fine with an unlimited number of tattoos amongst its employees – as long as they’re not visible while in the uniform.

The airline is also okay with employees getting new tattoos during their career at BA – as long as they’re placed in an area that won’t be exposed while in the British Airways uniform.

Long-Sleeve Shirt a Possible Alternative

The above regulations are sourced from British AIrways’ official website.

However, some people with working experience at the company as well as other popular carriers, mention that there’s a chance of scoring the job if you’re willing to cover up your tattoos with a long-sleeved shirt while on duty.

While this is not 100% confirmed, it’s definitely worth a try if you have your heart set on working for British Airways and have visible tattoos.

British Airways flight attendant
British Airways flight attendant

What we know for sure is that British Airways offers the long-sleeve shirt as an option for its crew but whether or not this guarantees getting hired with arm tattoos is another matter.

Reasons for Airlines’ Strict Stance on Tattoos

British Airways is by no means the only airline with a strict stance on tattoos. In fact, most airlines are pretty conservative when it comes to their appearance policy.

The reasons for this are mostly historical and have to do with the professional image that airlines want to project.

In the early days of aviation, having a visible tattoo was seen as taboo and was often associated with a person’s criminal background.

While this is no longer the case, the stigma still exists to some degree and that’s why most airlines prefer their employees to have a clean and polished look.

In other words, they want their crew to look professional and presentable at all times – and that usually means no visible tattoos.

The last thing they want or need is one of the passengers getting offended by a tattoo on one of the staff members and turning the flight into a living hell for others.

Are Other UK Airlines Less Strict? British Airways Alternatives

If you’re looking for an airline job in the UK but don’t want to deal with the hassle of covering up your tattoos, you might want to consider some of the other options.

While most airlines based in the UK have a similar policy to British Airways when it comes to tattoos, there are a few that are a bit more lenient.

For example, Virgin Atlantic allows its employees to have visible tattoos as long as they’re “tasteful and discreet”. This policy has arrived just in 2022 and is seen as the boldest step in the industry yet.

Other UK airlines that have slightly more relaxed policies than British Airways include Easyjet and Wizzair. Both allow the crew to cover small tattoos in the “visible” areas with make-up or a band-aid.

Alternatively, you can have a look at the policies of US airlines such as Alaska Airlines, Skywest, and United Airlines. All allow small visible tattoos.

Final Word & References

Working for an airline can be a great experience, but it’s important to know the appearance policy before applying.

As you can see, British Airways’ tattoo policy is still quite strict – and most other UK airlines are not far behind.

If you have your heart set on working for BA, your best bet is to cover up your tattoos with a long-sleeved shirt.

Otherwise, you might want to consider some of the other airlines that are a bit more lenient when it comes to visible tattoos.