Japanese airline lets female flight attendants ditch high heels and wear trousers for the first time

Helen Coffey
Japan Airlines cabin crew: AFP via Getty Images

A Japanese airline is finally letting female flight attendants wear trousers and flat shoes instead of skirts and high heels following a nationwide campaign.

Japan Airlines announced the changes on Thursday, confirming they will come into force from 1 April.

“This will be the first time to introduce trousers and to provide additional options for footwear,” an airline spokesperson told Reuters.

It means just under 6,000 women who work for the carrier will be able to choose footwear that “best fits their needs” for the first time.

The decision follows a nationwide social media movement, #KuToo, which calls for workplaces to ditch dress code rules that force women to wear high heels.

Started by actor and activist Yumi Ishikawa, the feminist movement plays on the Japanese words for shoe (kutsu) and pain (kutsuu).

Ishikawa launched the KuToo hashtag when she tweeted about her experience of being obliged to wear high heels when working at a funeral parlour.

“It’s a great step given that Japan Airlines is such a big company,” she said. “It’s not only airlines – there are also hotels, department stores, banks and a lot of other companies with this requirement. I hope they follow this example.”

It follows Virgin Atlantic’s announcement last March that female cabin crew would no longer be required to wear makeup to work.

The airline’s female cabin crew, known for their red uniform, were also given trousers as standard, rather than having to specially request them.

The move was a “significant change” for the aviation industry, according to Virgin.

Virgin Atlantic executive vice president of customer, Mark Anderson, said at the time that the airline had “always stood out from the crowd and done things differently”.

“We want our uniform to truly reflect who we are as individuals while maintaining that famous Virgin Atlantic style,” he added.

Read more

‘Overweight’ flight attendant loses unfair dismissal case