Virgin Atlantic passengers have always been able to choose what to wear on flights. Now crew members can, too.
The British airline announced Wednesday that it's scrapping its policy on gendered uniforms. The policy change will allow cabin crew, pilots and ground staff to wear the uniform of their choosing, "no matter their gender, gender identity, or gender expression," the company said in a news release.
Additionally, Virgin Atlantic announced that it will be giving all passengers complementary pronoun badges and allowing passport holders with "X" gender markers to book flights using an option other than male or female.
“At Virgin Atlantic, we believe that everyone can take on the world, no matter who they are. That’s why it’s so important that we enable our people to embrace their individuality and be their true selves at work," Juha Jarvinen, the airline's chief commercial officer, said in a statement. "It is for that reason that we want to allow our people to wear the uniform that best suits them and how they identify and ensure our customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns.”
Airline uniforms have historically been categorized as either "male" or "female," with traditional interpretations of how men and women should dress. Virgin Atlantic is just the latest to break this mold.
In April, not long after it was accused of discriminating against its nonbinary and gender-nonconforming employees, Alaska Airlines rolled out gender-neutral uniforms and relaxed its gendered grooming policies. And last year, the Ukrainian budget airline SkyUp stopped requiring its female cabin crew staff to wear high heels.
Virgin Atlantic's policy announcement was coupled with a flashy photoshoot, featuring longstanding “RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge and gay icon Michelle Visage.
“As the mother of a non-binary child, and as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, these efforts by Virgin Atlantic to further inclusivity for its people are extremely important and personal to me," Visage said in a statement. "People feel empowered when they are wearing what best represents them, and this gender identity policy allows people to embrace who they are and bring their full selves to work.”
Virgin Atlantic had already begun relaxing its employee dress code in recent years. In June, the company started allowing staffers to display their tattoos while in uniform. And in 2019, the airline began to permit female cabin crew members to wear pants instead of skirts, and go without make-up or high heels.
CORRECTION (Sept. 29, 2022, 9:05 a.m. ET): A photo caption in a previous version of this article misstated the position of TV personality Michelle Visage. She is third from right, not third from left.