Flight Attendants' Uniforms Are Making Them Sick (Again)
Recently, flight attendants for Delta Airlines have had some major issues with their new "Passport Purple" uniforms. They've been required attire since 2018. In that time, at least 500 flight attendants have signed onto a lawsuit against the uniforms' manufacturer, Lands' End, a company you may recall from the enormous catalogs they sent to every Midwestern family in the late 1990s.
And we're not talking about how the purple just doesn't make make Kyra's eyes pop -- we're talking about major health problems. Including everything from hair loss to hives to trouble breathing, none of which you want to happen on an airplane. A photo provided to Business Insider showed an on-plane bed where a flight attendant rested during a long-haul flight, and the sheets were stained purple like tacky lipstick on a wine glass.
American Airlines had a similar situation back in 2017, and Alaska Airlines had about 280 flight attendants develop medical issues as a result of their uniforms back in 2011-2012. Their supplier wasn't Lands' End, it was actually a different company called Twin Hill which, admittedly, sounds like Lands' End using a hasty alias. The Alaska attendants sued Twin Hill in 2013 and lost, with the court saying the attendants couldn't prove correlation between the uniforms and their health issues. Flight attendants from American Airlines also sued with a different strategy in mind, and as of April 2019 that suit was still ongoing. They now have the backing of a Harvard study conducted with the Alaska uniforms that showed increased health risks.
The airlines and clothing manufacturers claim that it has to be this way, because of the things they want the uniforms to accomplish: They want them to look wrinkle free, which in many cases means some amount of formaldehyde in the fabric. It's also a good idea for them to be stain-resistant. There are various dyes in the fabric, some heavy metals like nickel, and many of them incorporate flame retardants. Which, hey, you're on a metal tube screaming through the sky -- might as well. But none of this stuff reacts well with skin, and while we can understand that trying to provide thousands of good-looking and functional flight attendant uniforms probably isn't cheap, maybe "also doesn't poison our employees" should be another killer feature they throw in there.