Over 80,000 American Airlines workers will have a new look about them Tuesday.
The Fort Worth-based carrier is rolling out new uniforms for its pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents and maintenance workers after 2 1/2 years of designing, wear testing and fitting the new clothes.
“It’s their professional apparel and it needs to work for them,” said director of global marketing Brady Byrnes. “It also has to complement and support and build our brand.”
The modern-styled uniforms include gray suits, red and blue scarves and white shirts, similar to the carrier’s redesigned logo and aircraft livery unveiled three years ago.
Before its merger with US Airways, American hired fashion designers KAUFMANFRANCO in 2013 to develop new uniforms for the front-line employees. However, prototypes were considered drab and ill-fitting, so the airline went back to the drawing board, working with employee groups to develop new designs that were tested last year.
American began shipping out the 1.8 million new garments over the summer and offered employees professional alteration services to make sure the new clothes fit properly.
The company paid for the new uniforms and alterations at no cost to employees, Byrnes said, but he would not disclose how much American spent on the program. Employees will have the option to purchase additional uniform items starting in October.
As part of the new look, American is also giving thousands of employees new Cole Haan handbags and Saffiano leather attache cases that typically retail for between $300 and $500. The bags were designed to hold iPads used by flight crews and other electronic devices that American workers typically use.
The Allied Pilots Association said there may be issues with the new uniform rollout Tuesday, as not all of the pilots have received the correct pieces and have been told that if they show up for work in their old uniforms, they may not be allowed to fly.
“We’re sure that all American Airlines pilots will be wearing the same uniform someday, but September 20 is not going to be that day,” the pilots union said in a statement. “Too many of our members are still awaiting uniform delivery or replacements for pieces that were either ill-fitting or low-quality.”
American said Monday afternoon that pilots should contact their supervisor if parts of their uniform have not come in yet and the company will allow those pilots with legitimate issues to fly so it won’t disrupt operations.
Although former US Airways employees got new uniforms last decade after its merger with America West, it’s the first time in over 25 years that American employees have received a new uniform look.
“We currently look like the Dallas soap opera with big shoulder pads and big boxy jackets,” Byrnes said. “Tomorrow, we’re going to look like James Bond.”