Amid Rash Complaints, American Airlines Flight Attendants Want New Uniforms Recalled

Image courtesy of American Airlines

After months of many American Airlines flight attendants complaining that their new uniforms are giving them hives, rashes, and headaches, a union that represents the workers is pushing the company to issue a full recall of all the uniforms.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said this week that it’s received reports of allergic reactions caused by the uniforms from more than 1,600 flight attendants.

“While the company has reaffirmed its commitment to continue joint testing with APFA to determine what is causing these conditions, it has stopped short of a full recall,” the union said in a memo to members on Wednesday. “We feel a remedy that excludes a full recall of the uniform fails to adequately protect our members.”

Though the union notes that the uniforms may look good, crew members should also feel good in the uniform.

“Yet this feeling is not the case for a rapidly growing segment of our membership who has reported adverse reactions, including many Flight Attendants who are quite pleased with the look of the uniform,” APFA wrote.

APFA says it will continue to explore all legal options and consult with other experts in the field so it can get to the bottom of what’s going on.

In a statement to the Star-Telegram’s SkyTalk blog, a spokesman for American said the company has allowed about 200 flight attendants to keep wearing their old uniforms, and has ordered an additional 600 non-wool uniforms in an effort to address some of the skin reactions. American is also offering dermatological testing for any workers who’ve had reactions.

“We want everyone to feel good in the uniforms,” he said. “We are going to continue to work with the APFA on testing.”

That being said, the airline said in a letter to employees that it “stand firm” in its conviction that the uniforms are safe.

The issue first came to light in September, soon after the airline debuted the new uniforms. American said at that time that the complaints were likely related to a wool allergy, but some attendants said they had issues with garments made from cotton as well.

In November, APFA said that reports of allergic reactions were still rolling in, though American said the complaints only represented about 1% of the 70,000 employees wearing them.