No grey hair and religious thread, compulsory deo: What it takes to be a flight attendant at Air India


There is something about Air India’s air hostesses and glamour. In the ’70s and ’80s when the Tatas owned the airline, they were often referred to as ‘hawai sundaris’ and were considered the epitome of glamour, glitz and jet set lifestyle, enjoying holidays that few others could afford.

However, as time passed by and other airlines entered the market, these attendants lost their novelty. Now, as the Tatas have taken back control of the airline, it seems they want to recapture the glitz and glamour of the days gone by and have issued a new set of guidelines on grooming for its male and female cabin crew.

In issuing the new guidelines, a source from the company was quoted as saying to ANI, “Air India is the only airline in the country which has been serving the world for many decades. Representations and images of the crew are not as per international standards. The new management wants to change the perception of flyers.”

New rules for female cabin crew

Female cabin crew members have a long list of dos and don’ts to follow as per the new guidelines, which were released a month ago.

The guidelines published under the name ‘Cabin Crew Handbook’ have mandated that female crew members will only be permitted to wear gold or diamond round-shaped earrings without design or ornamentation; pearl earrings won’t be allowed.

It has also mandated that rings can’t be more than 1 cm in width and only one will be allowed. Also, only one bangle without any design or stones will be allowed.

Nose rings are also not permitted and if the mark appears on the nose it should be covered with make-up.

Furthermore, women who choose to wear a bindi can only have one that is of 0.5 cm.

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When it comes to hair, women crew members have to style their tresses only in high top knots, no low buns are allowed. Also, only four black bobby pins can be used.

Air India has also asked its female crew members to always wear sheer calf length stockings matching their skin tone.

When it comes to make-up, women crew are expected to adhere to the eyeshadow, lipstick, nail paint, and hair shade cards, with no room for personal shades.

Dos and don’ts for men

Air India has also come out with more rules for their male crew members. The airline has asked their crew who have “deep receding hairline and male balding patches must keep a clean shaved head/ bald look”.

However, the respective persons need to shave their heads daily. “Crew cut is not permitted,” it added.


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The guidelines go on to add that only a ‘zero setting’ should be used on the trimmer to clean the hair outside the hairline.

Men have also been asked to wear socks that match the colour of their trousers and be no longer or shorter than the calf.

Other common rules

Both male and female crew members with grey hair are also required to regularly colour them in a natural shade. “Fashion colors and henna are not permitted,” it says.

The attendants have also been told not to wear the black or religious thread on their wrist, neck, ankles.

The cabin crew have also been asked to use antiperspirant or deodorant along with their perfume and asked that it be a part of their daily hygiene routine. The guidelines also state heavily scented perfumes should be avoided and that it shouldn’t be sprayed directly on uniforms and only on pulse points on the skin.

The guidelines also state that crew should not wear the uniform and its accessories when off-duty.

Air India has also asked cabin crew not to carry plastic bags or shopping bags when they are within the airport vicinity. They have also been asked to refrain from ‘unbecoming lounging’ while in groups.

Tatas’ transformation

Since taking over the airline last October, the Tatas have been trying to transform Air India. They have announced that they will progressively induct 30 new aircraft, including five wide-body Boeing planes, from December this year as the airline looks to boost its domestic and international services.

They also had advised cabin crew earlier to wear minimum jewellery to avoid flight delays. “The cabin crew must adhere to the uniform regulations with emphasis on minimum jewellery being worn in order to avoid any delays at customs and security checks,” it had said in a February circular.

JRD Tata, who began the airline, was unapologetic about his obsession to perfection, which even extended to cabin crew. The airline introduced Anglo-Indian air hostesses with the then western look comprising tailored European dresses and jaunty angled caps in 1946.

In the beginning of the 1960s, Air India, as part of their rebranding, adopted saris as the official uniform their female cabin crew members.

They were considered to be pretty and the gold standard of beauty in India. Even the marketing of the airline was centred on them.

With the new guidelines, it seems that the Tatas want to recapture their glory days with Air India.

With inputs from agencies

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No grey hair and religious thread, compulsory deo: What it takes to be a flight attendant at Air India
No grey hair and religious thread, compulsory deo: What it takes to be a flight attendant at Air India
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