Many people have the goal of working in the air as pilots or flight attendants.
Getting paid to travel the world and encounter other cultures? Virgin Australia, arguably the largest airline in Australia, provides all of it.
Having said that, not everyone qualifies to join the cabin or cockpit staff. The inked society is one that consistently faces discrimination in the aviation industry.
Despite the growing acceptance of tattoos in Australia and around the world, the airline is sadly one of the employers with the tightest policies when it comes to ink.
Get acquainted with the most recent Virgin Australia tattoo policy if you have tattoos and are considering joining their company.
Virgin Australia Tattoo Policy – All You Need to Know
Although several of its biggest competitors worldwide have a more tolerant attitude toward tattoos, Virgin Australia (VA) continues to have one of the most restrictive policies in the business.
Currently, pilots and flight attendants are prohibited from sporting ANY visible tattoos while donning a Virgin Australia uniform.
Because the clothes are varied for male and female members of the workforce, the tattoo-restricted regions are also slightly different.
For a clear view of the existing limits on tattoos for the Virgin Australia cabin (and cockpit) crew, see the graphic below.
As shown in the image, the currently prohibited regions are as follows:
- For women – the head, neck, lower thigh to the feet, arms, and hands.
- For men – hands, arms, neck, and head
As long as they are hidden when wearing the uniform, Virgin Australia is okay with its personnel getting any number of tattoos.
The company also doesn’t mind if employees acquire new tattoos while working for VA, as long as they aren’t visible while wearing the uniform.
How About a Long-Sleeve Shirt & Make-Up Cover?
If you’re willing to hide your arm tattoos with a long-sleeved shirt while on duty, you might be able to get away with it.
If you’re keen on working for Virgin Australia and have noticeable tattoos, even if this isn’t a given, it’s worth a shot.
What is certain is that Virgin Australia gives its crew the choice of wearing long sleeves, but it is unclear if this will guarantee that those with arm tattoos will be recruited.
You might also inquire about the possibility of concealing really minor tattoos with makeup or even a bandage. Again, it’s best to discuss this choice with the airline directly.
Reasons for Airlines’ Strict Stance on Tattoos
By no means is the Australian carrier the only company in the industry that has a rigorous policy about tattoos. In truth, when it comes to their dress code, most airlines are rather restrained.
The main historical justifications for this have to do with the respectable image that airlines wish to present.
A visible tattoo was considered forbidden in the early days of aviation and was frequently connected to a person’s criminal history.
Even if this is no longer the case, the stigma still persists to some extent, which is why the majority of airlines like their personnel to seem tidy and professional.
In other words, they want their team to always show themselves as professional and well-groomed, which often excludes tattoos.
The last thing they want or need is for one of the passengers to feel insulted by a staff member’s tattoo and make the rest of the journey unbearable for everyone else.
Are Other Major Airlines Less Strict?
If you’re looking for an airline job but don’t want to deal with the hassle of covering up your tattoos, you might want to consider some options outside of Australia.
This is because, as things stand, most airlines based in Australia have a similar policy to Virgin Australia when it comes to tattoos (eg. the other giant, Qantas).
Looking globally, Virgin Atlantic is currently the most progressive airline in terms of tattoo acceptance. Since its policy change in 2022, the airline now allows its employees to have visible tattoos as long as they’re “tasteful and discreet”. Many people hope that Virgin Atlantic’s move will spark change in the industry as a whole.
Inside the US and Canada, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, and United Airlines all accept small visible tattoos using the “badge rule”. This means that the tattoo shouldn’t exceed the size of the airline’s badge (or credit card).
Another US airline, SkyWest, evaluates “small and tasteful” tattoos on a case-by-case basis.
As things stand, Virgin Australia’s tattoo policy is still strict but that’s just the norm for most major airlines.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of covering up or removing your tattoos, your best bet is to look into working for an airline based outside of Australia.
Virgin Atlantic seems to be the most tattoo-friendly airline at the moment, but there are quite other alternative options if you’re willing to relocate and start fresh.
Whatever you decide, make sure to always check with the airline directly before applying for a position. Things can change quickly in the aviation industry and it’s better to be safe than sorry!
If you already have a hands-on experience with the policy regulations at Virgin Australia, feel free to share your story in the comments below and help out other aspiring aviators!