28,000 United Airlines employees are getting new uniforms

Posted January 16, 2020 9:54 a.m. EST
Updated January 16, 2020 10:04 a.m. EST

— Winter is brutal, and no one can attest to that more than airport employees.

United Airlines is hoping to make the cold weather a bit more bearable for them with durable new uniforms for their 28,000 employees who work primarily outdoors. The airline unveiled new gear designed by Carhartt for its teams who work in ramp services, catering and technical operations.

The two companies worked together for three years to create and test the new clothing. The collection includes more than 50 pieces created for United's "below-wing" workforce. The pants have new pockets that better fit necessary tools, more colorful gear for safety reasons during the day and night time and are stitched with a new type of fabric. Carhartt said it also put an "emphasis" on its women's collection so the items have a better fit and function compared to previous collections.

United said these new uniforms are part of a broader refresh for all 75,000 employees in its global workforce. Select employees are currently testing new uniforms for its front-line employees, who include flight attendants, pilots, and customer service representatives. A new look for those workers will debut in the summer.

Airline uniforms aren't without controversy. Some employees at Delta Air Lines and American Airlines say that their airlines' new uniforms pose a health hazard.

Last month, more than 500 Delta employees sued Lands' End, the maker of their uniforms released a few years ago, alleging that the clothing for flight attendants and some ground workers caused vocal cord dysfunction, breathing difficulties, skin blisters and rashes. Delta said in a statement that it believes the uniforms are safe.

In 2017, American parted ways with clothing manufacturer Twin Hill after receiving complaints from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which said it received more than 3,500 complaints about their uniforms. The union said they caused a string of health problems including headaches, rashes and respiratory problems. Twin Hill and American maintained that the garments were completely safe.

It's worth noting that United's new uniforms will be provided by Carhartt, Tracy Reese and Brooks Brothers — companies that had no role in American and Delta's uniforms.

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