Tattoo Policy for Flight Attendants in 2024: What’s Changing?

flight attendant tattoo
Let’s talk tattoos and Flight attendants (Photo credits:

Showing off tattoos at work is becoming pretty common as Millennials take over the professional world and push to have outdated standards of professionality updated. Unfortunately, not all industries are tattoo-tolerant, and the airline industry has notoriously been anti-tattoo. But this might be starting to change too.

In the United States, a few airlines have recently started to update their tattoo policies to become more inclusive, while other airlines continue to restrict their employees from having any kind of visible tattoos.

Meaning, you can usually have tattoos on your shoulders, back, feet, chest, or upper arms, but not on your face, neck, hands, legs, or lower arms. (Depending on what can be hidden under your uniform).

I want to make sure you stay up-to-date, so I’ve compiled this article with everything you need to know.

💡 Key Takeways

  • Tattoo policies vary widely among airlines. Some are strict, and others are more relaxed.
  • Flight attendants are often expected to keep tattoos concealed, even during training. Clothing that hides tattoos is required.
  • Some airlines permit flight attendants to cover tattoos with makeup or bandages, but not all.

Can You Be a Flight Attendant if You Have Tattoos?

Yes, but you have to be sneaky.

I know plenty of flight attendants who have tattoos, myself included, but most of us keep them hidden while we are in uniform.

This is because most airline policies state that you cannot have any visible tattoos. As long as you can hide your tattoo under your uniform, you can still be a flight attendant. 

Keep in mind, some Asian airlines are stricter about tattoos. Japanese airlines, for example, will have zero tolerance for tattoos anywhere on one’s body because of the cultural implications of tattoos in Japan. So it is always best to research airline policy if you have a tattoo.

airplane tatoo
Tattoos on the back will usually be accepted by most airlines (Photo credits: hovig.movsesian)

Why Aren’t Visible Tattoos Allowed?

The answer to this is pretty simple: flight attendants are the airline’s main brand image. 

While in uniform we represent the company and its values, and we have to look a certain way in order to fulfill this aspect of the job. Having a visible tattoo might go against the values of the company you work for, for a variety of reasons.

  • Tattoos are still viewed and thought of as unprofessional.  While this is changing among younger generations, we work with passengers from all generations, and we cannot risk offending older passengers by having a tattoo they can see.
  • The tattoo motif might offend someone. People are sensitive, some common tattoo motifs can also be offensive to people from other cultures or older generations. It’s easier for airlines to have a blanket policy against visible tattoos than to litigate what motifs are allowed and which are not.
  • Tattoos themselves are offensive in some cultures. Some religions view tattoos as sacrilegious and other cultures have strong associations between tattoos and organized crime. When passengers who hold these beliefs see crewmembers with tattoos it can cause them to feel very uncomfortable and even lose trust in the airline’s ability to care for their safety.

For these reasons, it is very important to think hard about what kind of tattoo you want to get and where you will get it if you happen to be a flight attendant or want to become one. 

Tattoo Policies at Different Airlines

Most European and North American airlines will allow you to have tattoos as long as they can be easily hidden underneath the standard crew uniform. 

Again the rule is: tattoos must not be visible while in uniform! 

Some airlines will allow you to cover otherwise visible tattoos with bandages or makeup. Others will not.

For example, here is British Airways’ policy concerning tattoos as it is written on their career page.

british airways tattoo
British Airways’ tattoo policy

As you can see, you are not allowed to have any tattoos in areas that would be visible in the long-sleeve uniform.

Airlines that allow tattoos

There are a few airlines that allow visible tattoos! Here are a few major examples.

  • Air New Zealand allows visible tattoos as long as the motif is not considered offensive. This is because of the importance of tattoos called Moko in Māori culture. This new rule even permits Māori flight attendants to proudly display their face tattoos.
    In an effort to be more inclusive, Air New Zealand became the first airline to allow visible tattoos for flight attendants in 2019. 
  • Virgin Atlantic changed their tattoo policy in 2022, allowing for visible tattoos as long as they are not offensive.
  • United Airlines will now also be allowing flight attendants to have visible non-offensive tattoos and a wider range of body piercings, including multiple piercings in one ear.
  • Eurowing Discover will also now allow flight attendants to have small, non-offensive tattoos in visible areas.

Airlines that forbid tattoos

These airlines do not allow their crewmembers to have tattoos period. So if you have tattoos do not apply to the following airlines.

  • Japan Airlines (JAL) at JAL tattoos are strictly forbidden. This is because of the cultural association of tattoos with organized crime.
  • Qatar Airlines in Islamic tradition tattoos are considered haram (forbidden) by God’s laws because they alter his creation. As such Qatar Airlines will not hire anyone with tattoos.

There may be other airlines that categorically forbid tattoos, but these are two of the major ones.

Beware! Physical checks are also conducted after you have been hired to make sure you haven’t gotten any new tattoos, so don’t risk it! 

Ps. There are flight attendants at Qatar that claim they were hired in spite of their tattoos. We cannot confirm or deny these claims and our best advice is to play it safe. It’d be silly to lose your dream job over a tattoo.

Airlines with stricter tattoo policies

These airlines do allow tattoos but have stricter regulations than some of the other airlines that will be discussed here.

  • Etihad Airways: You may have no visible tattoos while wearing the Etihad uniform. And you may not hide tattoos with Band-Aids (plasters), coverings, or makeup.
  • Emirates Airways: You may not have visible tattoos, and you are not allowed to cover them with anything other than the standard issued uniform.

If you are a woman, this means you cannot have tattoos on your head, neck, arms, forearms, wrists, hands, or below your knee, or on the top of your foot. This is because you are not typically allowed to wear pants if you work for these airlines unless you have special permission for a medical accommodation.

Safe zones for women to have tattoos at these companies include your torso and from your waist down to your knee. In other words, hip and ribcage tattoos are A-OK.

If you are a man, you cannot have tattoos on your head, neck, arms, hands, or wrists. But tattoos on your torso and legs will be fine because they will be covered by the men’s uniform.

Airline Tattoo Policies At-A-Glance (US and EU)

To help you keep track we created this table showing the tattoo policies at most of the major US and EU airlines.

Airline Tattoo Policy
American Airlines No visible tattoos. Tattoos may be covered by makeup or bandages.
Alaska Airlines Small non-offensive tattoos are permitted. No face, neck, or hands.
Delta No visible tattoos. Tattoos may be covered by makeup or bandages.
United Small non-offensive tattoos are permitted. No face, neck, or hands.
British Airlines No visible tattoos. Tattoos may not be covered by makeup or bandages.
Ryanair No visible tattoos. Tattoos must be hidden by uniform.
EasyJet No visible tattoos. Tattoos may be covered by makeup or bandages.
Southwest Small non-offensive tattoos are permitted. No face, neck, or hands.
Jet Blue No visible tattoos.*
Frontier No visible tattoos. Tattoos may not be covered by makeup or bandages.
Spirit No visible tattoos.*
Lufthansa No visible tattoos.*
Air New Zealand Non-offensive tattoos, including face tattoos, are permitted.
Virgin Atlantic Small non-offensive tattoos are permitted. No face, neck, or hands.

*Based on the information we can find; it is unclear whether or not visible tattoos may be covered by makeup or bandages. So we assume not. Please be sure to review any policy manuals provided to you by the airline.

Where Are Flight Attendants Allowed to Have Tattoos?

Here is a quick visual chart showing the places flight attendants are and are not allowed to have tattoos in general.

Area Men Women
Head or Face NO NO
Neck NO NO
Arms NO NO
Hands NO NO
Thighs YES YES
Calves YES YES*
Ankles/Feet YES YES*
Shoulders YES YES
Chest/Torso YES YES

*These areas are permitted for women if the company’s standard issue uniform covers this area.

Note: Ankle tattoos may be permitted for women if they are allowed to wear opaque tights that cover the tattoo, or if they can opt to wear pants all the time.

My tattoo, for example, would not be accepted at most airlines. I also didn’t get it until after I had quit flying and gone back to grad school.

Here are a few other example images:

wrist tattoo
This wrist tattoo wouldn’t be allowed in most airlines (Photo credits: __anitart__)
hand tattoo
Not allowed. Despite its small size, this tattoo is located on a visible part of the body. (Photo credits: minie._.chan)
planet tattoo
Forearm tattoos are usually not accepted by most airlines (Photo credits: mybrazilianpassport)

Tattoos and Flight Attendant Interviews/Training

If you don’t have a tattoo yet, I highly recommend putting your appointment off until after you are well-established at a tattoo-tolerant airline.

If you already have one, here is what you need to do while you are at a flight attendant interview and/or training to ensure your success despite your tattoo.

At the interview

Some airlines will ask you if you have tattoos at your interview. If this is the case, tell the truth! 

If you don’t have visible tattoos, just say, “yes, I have one tattoo on my hip, but it’s easily concealed under my clothing and undergarments.”

If you have one in a semi-visible area (your forearm) for example… Be sure that it is concealed the same way you would have to conceal it at work. Be sure to explain to the recruiter how you plan on following their tattoo-related policies.

For example,

Yes, I have a forearm tattoo, but I plan to cover it with makeup each day so that it cannot be seen if I accidentally roll up my sleeves,”


Yes I have a forearm tattoo, but I will be sure to always wear a long-sleeve shirt and an outer layer such as the blazer or sweater.”

At training

At training, you will be expected to follow tattoo visibility policies at all times.

Even if you aren’t in uniform.

This means, wearing clothing to training that will conceal your tattoos.

At American, I remember our instructors would also push up our sleeves a little to make sure we had covered any forearm tattoos with makeup or bandages in addition to keeping them under clothing.

The biggest tattoo hurdle at training are the wet drills which are usually done in a swimming pool. 

During wet drills, instructors generally turn a blind eye to tattoos that will otherwise be covered up by your uniform.

So hip tattoos will be ignored, for example.

You will need to be wary of other possibly visible tattoos. So I recommend packing modest bathing suits for training and wearing yoga pants if you have calves or ankle tattoos to cover.

I wore a long-sleeve bathing suit and yoga pants during our wet drills mostly because I’m shy, but now that I have a forearm tattoo, the bathing suit I wore at training would have worked perfectly.

adrienne's tattoo
My forearm tattoo

Pro-tip for covering up tattoos

I know a number of people that used little compression sleeves like this one to cover any forearm tattoos they had.

It works well because passengers don’t think twice about it, they just assume you have some sort of repetitive strain injury (which are actually very common among flight attendants…)

Can Flight Attendants Have Piercings?

In general, women are permitted to have a single ear piercing in which they may wear a pair of studs in gold or silver adorned with diamonds or pearls.

Most airlines do not allow for multiple ear piercings. (Though some are making exceptions for the daith and tragus piercings if you have a doctor’s note stating that you have the piercing to help you relieve migraines.)

If you have multiple ear piercings (I had three at the time I interviewed with American Airlines) you are simply not allowed to wear earrings in those holes.

Some US-based airlines are allowing men to wear a single earring in one ear (either left or right).

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will briefly go over some of the most frequently asked tattoo-related questions from flight attendants wishing to get some ink.

Are flight attendants allowed to hide their tattoos with bandages or makeup?

Short Answer: It depends on the airline.

Long Answer: Middle Eastern airlines and a number of UK-based airlines will not permit this.

Most European and/or North American airlines will permit this. Including: Ryanair, EasyJet, American Airlines, and many others. Just be sure to carefully read each airline’s policy to know for sure.

If you need to cover a visible tattoo with makeup. We recommend following this video tutorial.

What if my tattoo is on my back and you can still see it through a white shirt?

Short Answer: wear an undershirt!

Long Answer: Pick a skin-tone undergarment because they have pigment in them that will be invisible under your white uniform shirt but will provide more coverage for your tattoo.

Easy! Right?

What if I’m a guy and I have a tattoo on my foot?

Short Answer: Don’t sweat it, you’ll be fine!

Long Answer: Men’s shoes typically offer more foot coverage than women’s heels anyway, so changes are your uniform shoes will cover your tattoo anyway.

Furthermore, you aren’t going to have to wear a skirt, or see-through tights, so you’ll have an easier time covering any tattoos that might be closer to your ankle with your pants or a dark-colored sock. Since most airlines require you to wear black or navy-blue socks anyway, you’ll be fine!

What if I have a small tattoo on my wrist?

Short Answer: Check the policies at your airline of choice.

Long Answer: Depending on the airline, you will probably just have to make sure to cover it with a band-aid or bandage while at work. But at others it will disqualify you, so just be conscious of which airlines you decide to work for.

What happens if I lie? Will the airline check if I have tattoos?

Short Answer: Don’t lie! They will check!

Long Answer: Most recruiters will ask you if you have tattoos, even if you’re applying to work for an airline that allows visible tattoos. Sometimes you even have to sign a statement stating you do not have any visible tattoos. And you can be sure that companies like Qatar will do a physical check at interviews to confirm you are telling the truth.

While more tattoo-tolerant companies, like American, may not check at the interview, they will check at training.

It’s just not worth the risk.

Because even if you do manage to sneak through the interview and training without anyone discovering your tattoo, you could get turned in by a coworker or passenger once you are already in the air.

I suppose it might not be entirely necessary to disclose a tattoo if you are applying to work at an airline in North America, or Europe, and your tattoo is in a particularly private area. Where there is ZERO chance that it would be discovered (tattoos that would be covered by your bra or panties, for example). Even then, it is probably best to just be discreetly honest.

I have a tattoo with a very personal meaning but since it will always be covered by my undergarments, no one will ever know.” Is a simple enough answer, that will prove your trustworthiness during the interview process.

Can ground personnel have tattoos?

Short Answer: The same rules apply to ground personnel.

Long Answer: Gate agents and customer service personnel are also brand ambassadors for airlines and often have to wear uniforms that are very similar to the uniforms flight attendants wear. As such, they are generally held to the same standards as flight attendants.

It’s possible that aircraft maintenance technicians will have relaxed rules, however, because they are not public-facing and also tend to have military backgrounds, where tattoos are very common.

What should I do if I have a tattoo? Should I remove it?

Short Answer: That’s a personal choice.

Long Answer: It depends on how big it is, where it is, and what it’s of.

If you can easily hide it under your uniform keep it.

If you’d have to wear long sleeves to cover it or put makeup over it everyday (depending on your airline’s policies) then it might be worth it to have it removed, especially if you aren’t emotionally attached to it.

But let’s be honest, the tattoo you got probably has a story behind it. I have one on my hip that helped me end and heal a traumatic chapter of my life and no one will ever convince me to get that removed. So if you have a tattoo that is visible and non-offensive, it might be best to work for a company that values that too.

Tattoo removal can be costly, sometimes even more costly than getting a tattoo in the first place, with procedures ranging between $50 and $500.

Furthermore, it seems the tide is turning on tattoos in the airline industry. Since 2019, with Air New Zealand leading the way, more and more airlines are accepting small, non-offensive tattoos and embracing the fact that younger people are embracing tattoos as a way to express themselves.

The airline world is becoming more inclusive, so you might get your tattoo removed today, only to discover the airline you want to work for has changed their policy tomorrow.

In the end, it’s your body and if you think having the tattoo removed will bring you closer to your goal, go for it.


Tattoos are still a touchy subject in the airline industry. A few outright forbid them on cultural and religious grounds, while others are starting to permit them in order to be more culturally inclusive.

We are doing our best to stay up-to-date on the tattoo policies in the industry. So feel free to keep checking back with us for updated articles in the future.

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  1. wow there’s a lot to know about it, first of all I think flight attendant can’t have tattoos. but after read this blog it’s open my mind, so as long it’s not visible the small tattoos is okay, but it depend to the airlines, because they have their own policy and standard. I’am glad that I find this blog, it’s really informative and there’s a lot of interesting story to read. I really want to be a flight attendant, and I hope I can be a part of them, thank you for sharing your story and see you on board.

    1. I’m delighted to know that you are linking our website 😃
      I wish you good luck with your project!
      Never give up 💪

  2. Giovanni Del Giorno

    Hi l am Giovanni l think that these day young people that got a tattoo on there arms for all the company’s its not cruel the 90/: of the new generation have got a tattoo that’s why not giving a job to them when it can be covered . I agree if there are pan the neck and face

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