Virgin Atlantic drops mandatory makeup rule for female flight attendants

Richard Branson at the 2014 launch of a Virgin Atlantic uniform designed by Vivienne Westwood
David M Bennett | Getty Images

The airline Virgin Atlantic has dropped its requirement for female cabin crew to wear makeup on flights.

Women will also be offered trousers as part of their uniform automatically, rather than only on request.

The airline said the revised guidelines were a "significant change for the aviation industry," after "listening to the views of our people," according to a spokesperson in a statement emailed to CNBC.

"Not only do the new guidelines offer an increased level of comfort, they also provide our team with more choice on how they want to express themselves at work," the spokesperson said.

The uniforms were first designed by Arabella Pollen in 1984, who also launched the company's signature bright red color.

Since then, designers have included John Rocha, Vivienne Westwood and David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the team that created Princess Diana's wedding dress. The Westwood uniform in 2014 was described as having an "extremely feminine" silhouette "to fit all shapes and sizes." Airline founder Richard Branson appeared at its launch with Westwood and Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie.

Virgin Atlantic's website describes its requirements for cabin crew as people who can provide "fantastic service," are over 18 and are fluent in English. It does not detail any requirements for appearance.

American Airlines, meanwhile, states on its careers website that flight attendant trainees must "present a professional image, may not have visible tattoos, facial, multiple or upper ear piercing, or extreme hair color or style while in flight attendant uniform."