Moving with the times, Virgin Atlantic is letting uniformed staff show their tattoos at work – as long as they’re not offensive. Rose Dykins reports

Virgin Atlantic has announced a change in policy regarding tattoos for its uniform wearers and front line staff – becoming the first British airline to allow employees to show their body art.

The airline has relaxed its restrictions that previously required any uniformed staff members to cover up visible tattoos with a long-sleeved shirt, plasters or make up. Short sleeve shirts are a uniform standard for the airline, so a special long-sleeved shirt previously had to be requested by tattooed employees.

But from now on, staff members including cabin crew like Terry Nunn and Josie Hopkins (pictured below) will be free to wear short-sleeved shirts that reveal tattoos on their arms. However, Virgin has said that offensive tattoos must remain covered.

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew tattoosFor now, head, face and neck tattoos, must also remain covered, although the airline says this is “currently under review”, and that it hopes to change this policy in “phase two” of its See The World Differently campaign. The marketing strategy from Virgin aims to champion individuality and celebrate the uniqueness of both its people and its customers.

Estelle Hollingsworth, chief people officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “At Virgin Atlantic, we want everyone to be themselves and know that they belong.  Many people use tattoos to express their unique identities and our customer-facing and uniformed colleagues should not be excluded from doing so if they choose.

“That’s why, in line with our focus on inclusion and championing individuality, we’re relaxing our tattoo restrictions for all our people. We’re proud to be the airline that sees the world differently and allows our people to truly be themselves.”

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew tattoosThe shift in stance from Virgin Atlantic not only promotes a more progressive, inclusive approach to uniform policy, but is also part of the airline’s most recent recruitment drive for cabin crew, which has opened up again. (In January, the airline received 5,000 applications for 400 roles.)

With this change in policy, Virgin is removing barriers to application for those whose cabin crew career aspirations may have been limited by the industry’s strict rules about tattoos.

Instead, the airline is offering a more relaxed, inviting approach that will widen its recruitment pool, strengthen its “young-at-heart” brand image and appeal to demographics – particularly millennials, who research reveals typically have the most body art out of any generation.