“The beginning of a new era.” That’s how British Airways described the day it officially rolled out its new crew uniform by British-Ghanaian Savile Row fashion designer and tailor Ozwald Boateng.
The airline’s previous uniform, designed by Welsh designer Julien Macdonald, has been worn by British Airways employees since 2004.
“Our current uniform was introduced in 2004, so it’s time for a change” a British Airways spokesperson told AeroTime when it first announced the new uniform design in early 2023. “Introducing a new uniform allows us to further demonstrate our position as a contemporary, modern brand representing the best of British design, whilst also working closely with our colleagues to design a uniform that they’re proud to wear.”
The British flag carrier officially rolled out the new uniforms to all its crew and employees on September 28, 2023.
Prior to that date, the airline placed the new uniform on ‘secret trial’ for over six months to make sure that each garment is fit for purpose. More than 1,500 British Airlines employees took part in 50 workshops to help ensure the garments suitability, including maintenance employees who were the first to wear the new uniforms when working on aircraft at Manchester and Cotswold airports.
When British Airways posted the new uniforms worn by front-facing crew, most reactions from its social media followers noted how “smart” and “crisp-looking” the new uniforms were. Many remarked they looked forward to flying and seeing the crew wearing the new uniform, and some praised the inclusion of extra pockets.
Most in the aviation industry, though, had different opinions. A Facebook group for aviation professionals, “A Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge,” showed that most of its 1.3 million followers preferred the old, darker-hued uniform.
Some remarked that the sleeves and collars, especially on female crew, looked too tight and ill-fitting. Many also agreed that the fabric seemed “cheaper” compared to the old one, with the lighter shade of navy showing creases and wrinkles.
The airline said that all old uniforms, which had to be surrendered by employees, will be donated to charity or recycled to create toys, tablet holders and more, with a number of items gifted to the airline’s museum.