New flight attendant uniforms have been all the rage lately. Multiple major airlines have been revamping their looks lately, usually to the tune of a more retro yet sleek vibe that makes everyone on board feel like they are in a classy airline fantasy rather than a mid-tier sales meeting with awful suit jackets all around them. Most of these changes get announced and then are immediately forgotten and only paid attention when passengers subliminally notice a more stylish flight environment, or if something goes wrong. Which it seems is what is happening with American Airlines right now.
According to a statement released by the Association for Professional Flight Attendants, more than 1,600 of American's flight attendants have experienced headaches, rashes, hives, burning skin, and eye irritation since switching to the new outfits.
In a statement, the APFA says about the situation,
"Our members should not only look good in the uniform, but 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."
That last line serves to prove to the airline that this isn't just a made up issue to get out of wearing uncomfortable or ugly uniforms, which apparently is a going concern with problems such as this one. In response, American has set up a call center to process related complaints and is offering to supply alternative uniforms for those affected. In addition, they are working directly with the APFA to test for toxicity even though the airline says it tested the uniforms multiple times before they were released to the work force and nothing was detected that could cause such symptoms. Even with the alternative uniforms given as an option, the APFA is demanding a full recall and nothing less.
Their best guess at this time is that the high wool percentage in the material could be causing allergic reactions. However, 1,600 people being allergic to wool and either not knowing they are or not thinking to check the tags of new garments seems like an outlandish theory. A solution might not be imminent, and until then the cause of these scary symptoms will remain a mystery.