Southwest Airlines Tattoo Policy in 2023 (Flight Attendants & Pilots)

Despite tattoos’ rising popularity and acceptance in the United States and elsewhere, several businesses continue to maintain their strict tattoo regulations.

Aviation, without a question, is at the top of the list.

If Southwest Airlines, one of the most well-known US airlines, is where you envision your future job, you should probably stick with us for a bit as we examine the current Southwest Airlines tattoo policy.

So, can a Southwest Airlines flight attendant or even a pilot have (visible) tattoos?

Southwest Airlines tattoo policy highlights

Southwest Airlines Tattoo Policy – All You Need to Know

Unfortunately for the inked community of aviation enthusiasts, Southwest has some of the harshest tattoo policies in the US industry.

Anyone applying to work for Southwest can’t have any visible tattoos while in the Southwest uniform. The existing guideline prohibits the use of bandages or concealing make-up as a workaround.

The airline has different tattoo restrictions for each gender because the Southwest uniform is different for men and women. See the illustration below for a better explanation.

Southwest Airlines tattoo restrictions

Current tattoo restrictions at Southwest Airlines

As you can see, the restricted areas are a bit different for male and female crews.

Men aren’t allowed to have any tattoos on:

  • head
  • face
  • neck
  • hands

Women aren’t allowed to have any tattoos on:

  • head
  • face
  • neck
  • hands
  • lower legs

Some Tattoos Won’t be Accepted Anyway

The battle is just half won once the visibility requirements are met.

Additionally, there should be no rude themes or indecent language in your tattoos. This means that regardless of whether a uniform is worn, any tattoo that can be considered aggressive, racial, sexist, or otherwise discriminating will not be permitted.

Southwest flight attendant

Southwest flight attendant in action

No matter how qualified you are, you will not be able to work with Southwest if you have any tattoos containing such content.

Remember that what you would perceive as a harmless tattoo could have a different meaning for someone else. It’s usually advisable to err on the side of caution and speak with a Southwest employee if you’re unsure whether your ink satisfies the company’s requirements before applying for a job.

Long-Sleeves an Alternative

If you’re a proud owner of arm or even full-sleeve tattoos, there’s still hope.

Both short and long sleeve shirts are available to Southwest employees. If you are willing to wear long sleeves at all times, you can inquire during the job interview if you are allowed to have tattoos on your arm.

If you truly want to work for the airline, this is definitely an option, however, it is barely comfortable, especially in the summer.

Are There Any Airlines That Allow Tattoos?

While the majority of US airlines have comparable tattoo regulations to Southwest’s, a small group is more tolerant.

One of Southwest’s main rivals, United Airlines, permits its flight attendants to wear minor tattoos as long as they don’t exceed the size of the uniform badge (or credit card).

Alaska Airlines just implemented the same “badge regulation.”

SkyWest, on the other hand, allows for “small, tasteful” tattoos without specifying the exact dimensions requirements.

Virgin Atlantic is undoubtedly the most forward-thinking airline operating outside of the US. The airline now permits its staff to wear visible tattoos – as long as they are tasteful – following the 2022 policy modification.

Why Tattoos Are Not Allowed in Airlines?

The reason behind aviation’s harsh stance on tattoos is two-fold.

On the one hand, there is a perception that tattoos are unprofessional and may not be suitable for customer-facing positions. This sentiment is shared by many other industries, such as banking, law, and healthcare.

On the other hand, airlines are very cautious when it comes to their image. After all, the public’s perception of an airline can make or break the company.

Most airlines want to minimize the risk of offending or alienating customers, and they believe that enforcing strict tattoo policies is the best way to do so.

How Do Flight Attendants Hide Tattoos?

In general, it’s advised to be open and honest about your tattoos when applying for a job with an airline.

With that said, some people are able to successfully conceal their ink by using long-sleeved shirts or bandages. However, it’s important to note that this is usually considered grounds for dismissal if you’re caught.

It’s best to avoid this route altogether and simply make sure your tattoos are compliant before applying for a job with an airline.

With that said, some airlines allow for small, discrete tattoos. In these cases, it may be possible to cover up your tattoos with makeup or a bandage.

If you’re unsure whether your tattoos are compliant, it’s always best to speak with an airline representative before applying for a job.