American Airlines executives don new uniforms to show they are safe to wear

Several American Airlines executives and middle managers are wearing the new uniforms after flight attendants said the clothing causes hives, wheezing, coughing and headaches.
(Steven Lippman / American Airlines)

Are the new uniforms for flight attendants and other crew members at American Airlines safe to wear?

About half a dozen American Airlines executives and middle managers are so sure the new uniforms that debuted in September are harmless that they have begun to wear the wool-based outfits to work.

These are the same uniforms that generated about 2,200 complaints from employees, who said the clothing causes hives, wheezing, coughing and headaches.

American Airlines declined to name all of the executives who are wearing the uniforms but did disclose that Hector Adler, vice president for flight services, had ordered a uniform and is expected to don it in the next week or so.


Taylor Garland, a spokeswoman for the Assn. of Flight Attendants, fired back at the airline executives who are wearing the uniforms. The association represents members from 18 airlines.

“It’s insulting. Instead of acknowledging legitimate concerns of their employees, American Airlines management is pulling a publicity stunt,” she said.

Meanwhile, the union that represents American Airlines’ flight attendants, the Assn. of Professional Flight Attendants, filed a formal grievance with the airline, saying the uniforms threaten the health of the flight attendants. In the grievance letter, the union demanded that the airline reimburse flight attendants for the cost of medical bills and give them time off to recover from any illnesses caused by the clothing.

“Personal health is so integral and critical to our flight attendant workforce, who must be able to work in a healthy manner and environment,” union national President Robert Ross said in the grievance. “To do so, our members need proper and safe uniforms.”


American Airlines said it has agreed to team up with Ross’ union to perform a chemical test on the uniforms — the fourth in a series of tests.

American Airlines said the previous three tests have shown no unhealthful levels of harmful chemicals in the clothing.

The new uniforms were made by Twin Hill, a subsidiary of Men’s Wearhouse. It is the same manufacturer that made the uniforms for Alaska Airlines employees, sparking similar complaints in 2012 about health problems related to the clothing.


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