JAL Crew Set To Receive New Uniforms From 2020

Japan Airlines (JAL) has unveiled new uniforms for all crew and ground staff which will be officially adopted next year. Their expertly timed announcement, exactly one year prior to the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games, sees a new, if not entirely ‘fresh’, design, and most notably will now allow female cabin crew to start wearing trousers.

Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines have revealed a new employee uniform. Photo: JAL

It’s the first big redesign of JAL uniforms since 2013 and will arrive in the nick of time as the eyes of the world descend on Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games. Due to be adopted in April 2020, that leaves just enough time to get the kinks worked out, so to speak, before the influx of visitors for the big event.

Designing the uniforms

Japan Airlines says that they reached out to their customers for inspiration on the uniform update. Taking these comments into consideration, they worked with Japanese designer Yasutoshi Ezumi to create the new pieces.

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The concept itself aimed to marry the demands of customers and staff with the functional requirements of hard-working employees. The public survey feedback called for something ‘stylish and modern’, as well as the inclusion of long sleeves and trousers as an option for female staff.

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JAL New Uniforms
Cabin crew uniforms. Photo: JAL

The end result is pretty traditional but entirely reflective of the carrier. It’s business basics – very dark materials combined with pops of color for brand identity. It’s not particularly inspiring, but there are some unusual touches.

The cabin crew uniform features ‘balloon’ sleeves, a feature JAL described as being ‘rare in the airline industry’. Although certainly eye-catching, they look like they’ll date pretty rapidly. JAL state that the curves of the uniform silhouette were inspired by the curves of a crane, their company logo. Not sure I see it myself.

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Colors for other companies
Colors for other companies in the JAL group. Photo: JAL

The corporate red jumps out from the belts, cuffs and scarves, and of course on that rather fetching apron. Different color pops are being introduced for different companies in the JAL group; that apron is going to look interesting on JTA flights.

New JAL pilot uniforms
New JAL pilot uniforms. Photo: JAL

Across the rest of the employee sectors, the basic message stays the same. Ground staff do get to enjoy some particularly pretty scarves, and female pilots will be able to opt for a more feminine scarf instead of a necktie.

Ground staff uniforms
Ground staff uniforms. Photo: JAL
Lounge staff
Lounge staff uniforms. Photo: JAL

You can check out some of the looks in the video below:

Ladies can wear the trousers too

In the past, the airline industry has come under fire for ‘sexism’ in the sky, as many airlines restricted what female staff, particularly those in cabin crew positions, could and couldn’t wear. While the rest of the world rose to the challenge of gender equality and respect for diversity, aviation has remained the last bastion of an outdated attitude to women.

Nowhere was this more prevalent than in the Far East, where the typically conservative culture of the nations has shone through in airline policies. However, over the past few years, standards have become more relaxed as Asian carriers strive to catch up with trends in the rest of the world.

Cathay Pacific crew uniforms
Cathay’s crew will have to wait for their trousers. Photo: Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific famously ditched the ‘skirts only’ rule for cabin crew, following union pressure to update their uniform policy. However, you might notice that nothing has actually changed yet, as the new policy won’t be implemented until the airline redesigns its uniform, a move that Cathay has said could take years.

Air India dropped the sari in 2015, giving cabin crew the option to wear ‘western formals’ instead. KLM introduced trousers in 2010, and since 2016 crew on BA and Virgin are able to request trousers if they wish, although skirts are encouraged. Aer Lingus joined in last year with the trouser option, and many airlines have been scrapping makeup policies too.

It’s great to see JAL giving cabin crew the option of wearing pants to work. Many airline staff have, in the past, raised issue with skirts, citing difficulties with loading bags into overhead bins and being nimble enough in emergency situations as reasons to adopt trousers instead. Still, there are plenty of airlines out there who are yet to catch on to the trend of equality – perhaps seeing JAL flying high in smart pants will set an example to other carriers too.

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