American Airlines flight attendants received a wardrobe upgrade in September when the company rolled out new uniforms to more than 70,000 of its front-line workers. Employees were excited about the new work outfit’s appearance — but now they’re singing a different tune, according to USA Today.
“We have received over 1,600 flight attendant reports of suspected uniform reactions that include headaches, rashes, hives, burning skin and eye irritation, itching, and respiratory problems — to name a few,” the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) — American’s flight attendants union. — said in a memo to its members late Wednesday.
In response, the airline launched an investigation. It thought it resolved the issue, saying the issue was a wool allergy, but according to the flight attendants, the problem has continued to spread.
“The growing number of reports of suspected reactions, triggered by both direct and indirect contact with the uniform, has prompted APFA to ask that all uniforms be recalled until further joint testing with the company can be completed,” the union said.
American Airlines spokesman Ron DeFeo told the Dallas Morning News that the carrier has already done three rounds of testing, but all results have so far been “in line with normal standards.” DeFeo also said, however, that the airline has permitted about 200 attendants to continue wearing their old uniforms, and that the company has ordered 600 nonwool versions of the new uniforms. American is also offering “dermatological testing for individuals who have had reactions to try to determine a cause,” according to Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram. While the company will continue to take the issue seriously, it stands firm in its conviction that the “uniform is safe,” American Airlines executives said in a letter to flight attendants.
The union isn’t satisfied, however; it feels “a remedy that excludes a full recall of the uniform fails to adequately protect our members.”
Some of the flight attendants affected are actually fans of the new look, but the whole beauty-is-pain outlook is not acceptable on a 15-hour flight.