SkyUp Airlines, one of the youngest low-cost airlines in Europe, but one of the biggest in Ukraine, has now decided to replace the old uniform from next month with a far more comfortable alternative. It isn’t the first in Europe to do so, but for Ukrainians it is a sign that some of the old traditions are being swept away.
Switching from heels, pencil skirts and tight blouses, to loose jackets and trousers and… you guessed it, trainers!
“Twelve hours on your feet, flying from Kyiv to Zanzibar and back. If you wear high heels, you are hardly able to walk afterwards,” says flight attendant Daria Solomennaya, 27. “That includes four hours of security checks and cleaning.”
When SkyUp surveyed its crews, it turned out that its female employees had had enough of the company uniform. So, out go the high heels, skirts and tight blouses, in come trainers, loose orange jackets and trousers.
“A flight attendant’s work is not that romantic. It’s hard,” explains SkyUp head of marketing Marianna Grigorash. “We realised that our female flight attendants didn’t want to be seen as “sexualised and playful’.”
For decades airlines took advantage of women’s looks to aid their business, often at the cost of their employees’ comfort and health.
“The typical image of a stewardess is probably more sexualised and associated with femininity than any other,” says gender expert Olena Strelnyk.
Ukraine has changed dramatically in recent years and Olena Strelnyk believes it has begun shedding many of its sexist traditions. Unfortunately this does not mean SkyUp’s Ukrainian competitors are necessarily following suit in shaking up their uniform policies, allowing comfort over style.
An interesting and key aspect to the dislike of the uniform was pointed out by Daria Solomennaya, for her, the problems with heels and pencil skirts are obvious – What if an aircraft made an emergency landing on water and a colleague had to rush to open an exit door over the wing, she points out. She would have to clamber over seats while passengers lined up in the aisle. “Imagine how I could do that in a pencil skirt.” She exclaimed.
We think this is a fantastic step in the right direction, not just for the company, but for the brand. SkyUp Airlines has definitely made the right play, perhaps one day all airlines will think like this, there are many already. However, there are many that disagree with the change too.