American Airlines’ flight attendants have a new uniform option after thousands of complaints of allergic reactions to their work clothes were lodged.
The Fort Worth-based carrier said “off-the-shelf” uniforms will be available later this month from a different vendor for employees to purchase.
“We continue to have full confidence that the current uniforms are safe, and we know that the vast majority of team members have not had any issue with them,” the carrier said in a letter sent to employees Tuesday. “However, we recognize that some still have concerns about the current collection, so today’s news is about providing a fourth uniform option in addition to the three options we provide today in standard wool, polyester and cotton.”
The new options include a polyester jacket with pants or a skirt, a white cotton shirt and an acrylic/cotton blend zippered sweater for flight attendants and gate agents to wear. Aramark is providing the new uniform option, which is similar, but not identical to, the uniforms.
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Although the new uniform option is a “positive development,” the Association of Professional Flight Attendants union said it is not enough.
“This new alternative uniform is not enough. It is an interim solution at best,” the union said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, noting it has received more than 3,000 complaints about the uniforms. “APFA will continue to demand that the company find a permanent, long-term solution to ensure that all flight attendants have confidence in the uniforms that they wear.”
American debuted the new uniforms in September for pilots, flight attendants, ground workers and customer service agents. Shortly after they began wearing them, hundreds of flight attendants complained of allergic reactions, including hives, headaches and rashes, the union said.
In December, the APFA asked the company to issue a full recall of the uniforms, which American has declined to do. The maker of the uniform, Twin Hill, defended its clothes, saying “the garments are safe,” and invited the union to select additional samples from its factory for chemical testing.
“We understand and have fully cooperated with American’s decision to provide a new ‘off-the-shelf’ choice for the small minority of team members who are uncomfortable in the current uniform,” Twin Hill said in a statement on Tuesday. “We hope this option resolves the union’s concerns.”
Twin Hill reiterated the safety of its garments, adding that there are no restricted chemicals in the American Airlines uniforms.
With the new uniform option, American said it will have a limited supply and will prioritize distribution of the new option to employees who have “the most immediate need.” The uniform option will become more widely available in the fall, the company said.