Generally speaking, it is acceptable for female pilots to have long hair. However, the rule is rather different for males. Depending on the airline and whether the pilot is flying a commercial airplane or a military jet, the rules are similar for females.
In late 2020, the U.S Air Force updated their stance on the length of hair for men and women. Male airmen can now wear their hair up to two inches from their scalp. This is an extension of the previous mandate of 1 ¼ inch.
The standard female length has increased from 3 ½ inches to 4 inches. This change was part of a series of updates to “improve dress and appearance policies” and for “creating a more inclusive culture” according to Capt. Leah Brading.
For commercial pilots, females can have long hair. However, it should be kept in a bun or tied up so it does not interfere with eyesight and the systems inside the cockpit. Appearance is important for commercial pilots so they must maintain a tidy hairstyle and well-groomed look. Males can have beards but this should be trimmed down.
The U.S. Air Force’s regulations on female hair are as follows:
- “No minimum hair length to a maximum bulk of 3 ½ inches from scalp and allows proper wear of headgear.”
- Hair has to be above the bottom edge of the collar.
- Bangs or side-swiped hair can not touch either eyebrow.
- Braids, Locs, Twists, micro-beads, Dutch braids, French braids, and cornrows are allowed. See detailed information here.
- Mohawks, mullets, or etched designs are not authorized.
Commercial airlines are not as strict when it comes to their hair regulations. Policies can vary from airline to airline. However, many uniform policies require that any hair that is below the lower edge of the collar be pulled back. This can be done by tying the hair up or styling it above the collar.
Can pilots have long hair?
The topic of whether pilots are allowed to have long hair or not has had much controversy over the years. Many argue that long hair has no impact on a pilot’s job while others disagree, stating that it looks untidy and can make an airline look unprofessional.
The aviation industry has many standards which must be adhered to at all times. These are all upheld by the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration. These rules and regulations guide airline staff and crew on everything from their appearance to the flights themselves. This includes rules on long hair.
The FAA expects male pilots to wear short military-style haircuts. Many airline pilots choose to keep their hair very short as it is easier to manage. This similarity between airline pilots and the military began with the U.S. Air Force.
Many airline pilots started their training with the U.S. Air Force so the benchmark for them has always been the military haircut. While some argue that a pilot’s haircut has no effect on the experience they have, it is a standard that has been set for many years.
Hair and appearance regulations change from airline to airline but most require hair to be trimmed to a neat and tidy length. The main reason is to look presentable and professional. Also, long hair can impede vision which can be distracting and dangerous whilst operating in a cockpit.
There are some grooming tips so pilots can maintain a professional and clean appearance. These include:
- Looking after your hair - As well as keeping hair short, male pilots need to ensure it remains sharp and neat looking. Pilots can dye their hair as long as it is a natural color such as brown, black, or blonde.
- Ensuring your face is clean - Pilots must keep their faces clean and fresh. The beard must be shaved at all times (depending on the airline) so the pilot looks presentable. Healthy skin can be achieved through a proper diet, a good amount of sleep, and adequate levels of exercise.
- Looking after your body - This links with taking care of your skin. The pilot must keep in reasonable shape with a good level of fitness. Flights can sometimes be very long so a pilot must stay alert at all times. Again, this is achieved through a proper diet, enough sleep, and daily exercise.
The aviation industry is vast. Long hair is acceptable in many aviation occupations such as mechanics or engineers. Some airlines around the world may allow long hair but this is rare, especially for men.
While rules and regulations can differ with various airlines, the consensus is that hair must be kept short and tidy for males and tied up in a ponytail or bun for women. Of course, rules differ in the military where hairstyles are far stricter but for commercial airline pilots, the FAA requires presentable and professional looking pilots when on duty.