Tattoo Policy in the Air – Aeronautics Online

Posted in Tattoo on Dec 22, 2019

Frankie Wallace is a freelance journalist with an interest in aviation news and politics. Wallace graduated from the University of Montanas Journalism School and currently resides in Boise, Idaho. The views expressed in this article are solely his and do not represent those of Aeronautics Online.

If you work in the airline industry as a pilot or a member of the crew and youre thinking about getting a tattoo (or another tattoo), you might hesitate as you wonder whether it will impact your job.

While tattoos are growing more widely accepted in todays culture, there are still certain stigmas that some people hold against them. Despite this, a recent study discovered that about 40 percent of people ages 18-29 are likely to have a tattoo.

Thats something employers cant ignore, and it would be difficult for them to not hire, or even let go of, any employee with a tattoo when that percentage is so high. Tattoos are a popular way to showcase your individuality, after all, or commemorate special moments or people in your life, and with the increasing normalcy in society, many industries in the future will be hard-pressed to hire an entire staff of ink-free workers.

Still, its every companys right to have its own policy on visible tattoos. With that in mind, what is the general consensus on tattoos in the airline industry? Can you get a tattoo? Should you? Lets find out.

Tattoos aside, there are many things to consider when becoming a pilot. In addition to your standard training and logged air time, there are some physical standards a certified pilot has to live up to, including getting a medical certificate from an FAA-authorized medical examiner.

As you might expect, a keen sense of sight is also incredibly important for pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires a pilots vision to be as perfect as possible. If they dont already have 20/20 vision, they have to be able to wear corrective lenses or glasses to get their vision to that level of perfection.

Meanwhile, flying a plane is often a stressful job, and consistent stress can contribute to high blood pressure. While hypertension wont automatically disqualify you from being a pilot, youll also have to be able to show that you can manage it and keep your numbers within a normal range.

Pilots also need to be able to perceive colors correctly and demonstrate an average hearing ability. Additionally, they cant have a history of substance abuse or severe personality disorders. With all of that said, how do tattoos on your skin join the mix?

While tattoos arent listed as anything problematic by the FAA, again, its up to individual airlines to develop their own policies on body art. Most airlines used to be a bit more strict about those policies, at least until more people started getting tattoos. Today, most adopt a policy that the tattoos just cant be visible when youre on the job.

For example, flight attendants on most airlines cant have any tattoos showing, so their uniform, hair, etc., have to be able to cover up any ink. Standards for pilots may be different because theyre not seen as frequently as flight attendants, but pilots may also be held to a higher standard because a passengers perception of them is important.

The commercial airline industry has a lot of grooming standards, that goes without saying. In a way, its understandable, since people are still often quick to stereotype those with tattoos and piercings but if you feel as though thats too strict for you, you may consider working for a smaller airline, a private airline, or other, whose grooming standards are slightly laxer. You may even opt to work as a contracted pilot for private shuttles, and live as many freelancers do while making your own schedule and working by your own rules, grooming or otherwise.

Will having a tattoo keep you from becoming a pilot? Probably not especially if you have the skills that a commercial airline is looking for. But, if youre hired, youre going to have to adhere to a particular companys policy on ink. In most cases, that means covering up your tattoos while youre on the job. Thats usually not a big deal for most people, but if you have tattoos on your hands, neck, or face, it isnt really an option except with makeup or tattoo removal.

So, while tattoos can be a great form of expression, you have to consider what might be more important to you.

Furthermore, you should think about all of the potential risk factors when it comes to getting a tattoo. No, were not talking about the old trope of, you know those last forever, right? Everyone understands that tattoos are a permanent thing and should be a serious commitment. But, its also important to go to a tattoo artist and shop that you fully trust. Dirty or tainted needles can cause everything from infections to Hepatitis C, or even HIV. Your artist should be certified to use surgical steel when drawing on your tattoo, so youll be safe.Whether you decide to go ahead with the tattoo, or you hold off to focus on your career in the skies, the best thing you can do is to familiarize yourself with airline policies. They may change over time as more people with tattoos look for jobs, but at the moment, they have to be adhered to, and if becoming a pilot is your dream, you need to take those policies into consideration when youre deciding on a tattoo.

Featured image courtesy of Pixabay

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Tattoo Policy in the Air - Aeronautics Online

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