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

Despite the big progress the world has made when it comes to tattoo acceptance, there are still industries where having visible tattoos can be a hindrance.

When talking about those, aviation springs to mind instantly.

And while it’s true that most major US-based airlines have a super-strong stance on people with visible ink, there are some that give the inked community a fair chance of getting hired.

If you’ve been considering joining the ranks of United Airlines, you might want to stick with us for the next couple of minutes as we dive into the latest United Airlines tattoo policy.

Is the airline one of the good guys? Let’s find out.

United Airlines tattoo policy highlights

United Airlines Tattoo Policy – All You Need to Know

Gladly, United Airlines is one of the few carriers that raises hope for a positive change in the industry that still openly discriminates against tattooed people.

So, does United Airlines allow tattoos for cabin crew?

Yes, it does!

After the 2021 policy update, flight attendants and pilots working for United Airlines are allowed to have small tattoos in visible places. United Airlines’ tattoo policy for pilots is exactly the same.

The airline defines “small” as being no bigger than the size of the uniform’s badge (which is similar to the size of a credit card).

Of course, the allowed tattoos that are visible need to be tasteful and inoffensive. They also can’t be on your face.

What’s worth pointing out, the airline doesn’t have any regulations in place when it comes to the number of tattoos under the uniform – which is great.

United Airlines vs Other US Carriers

Currently, United Airlines is one of few US-based carriers that have a more relaxed stance when it comes to tattoos.

Most have a complete ban on visible tattoos in place. Notable examples of the “bad boys” include Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.

In fact, the only other two major US carriers that don’t have an outright ban on tattoos are Alaska Airlines and Skywest. These two allow small, tasteful tattoos in visible places – similar to United’s policy.

United Airlines flight attendant
United Airlines flight attendant

Outside of the US, there are a few international airlines that have followed suit and changed their tattoo policies for the better.

Some notable examples include Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand, who both lifted the bans and accept even large tattoos in visible areas. Way to go!

Why do Most Airlines Still Ban Tattoos Among Crew?

Unfortunately, the airlines that have a complete ban on tattoos among their cabin crew usually give the same two “reasons” for why this is so.

These are – professional appearance and cultural sensitivity. Let’s see if these hold up to scrutiny.

A Professional Appearance – Really?

This is probably the most common argument you’ll hear when it comes to why tattoos are not allowed in the airline industry.

Now, we’re not going to argue that people with face or neck tattoos can look professional. They can’t.

But, having a small tattoo somewhere on your hand or arm doesn’t make you any less professional than somebody who doesn’t have any ink at all. In fact, in many cases, it’s quite the opposite!

Moreover, if an airline is really that concerned about its professional appearance, why doesn’t it have a dress code that would ban things like – let’s say – piercings?

Oh, right. Because that would be discrimination.

The same goes for tattoos. If you can do your job just as well with a tattoo as without one, why should it even matter?

Cultural Sensitivity – What about It?

This is another common argument you’ll probably hear from people who are against tattoos in the airline industry.

They’ll say that some cultures perceive tattoos as being dirty or offensive, and that by allowing them, the airline might offend its passengers.

Now, this argument does hold some water. There are, indeed, cultures that perceive tattoos in a negative light.

However, these cultures are in the minority. The vast majority of people around the world either don’t care about tattoos or actually think they look pretty cool.

So, if an airline is really that concerned about cultural sensitivity, why doesn’t it just have a policy that forbids offensive tattoos? That way, everyone would be happy!