It will be a while before I make it in to any airline by the way the industry is going at the moment, but just wondering (day dreaming) about the time when an airline pilot is presented with their uniforms. I know the answer to this will vary from airline to airline, and since I'm from Australia, I'm hoping to get replies from airline pilots from there, but general responses from other airlines around the world for comparison would be appreciated as well.
How are new pilots to an airline presented with their wings and epaulettes? Is there a formal presentation ceremony when this happens? Or do they just go and pick it up from the supplies office? And what about when they get the extra stripes upon promotion to captain? Is there a ceremony for this too?
Are hats becoming less popular as a part of a pilot's uniform these days? I've never seen a Virgin Blue nor Jetstar pilot with a hat on. How about Tiger Airways and Qantaslink? Do they have hats with their uniforms?
And finally, a specific question about the Qantas uniform. Am I right in saying that it is black in colour (trousers and jacket) or is is dark navy blue? And do Qantaslink pilots where the same uniform with same wings?
I am not a hat fan, never will be, but Qantas/Qantaslink still have them. Tiger does not have hats, they have the traditional jacket/tie which is navy in colour. Jetstar are pretty much the same although from memory they have a set of wings imprinted on the jacket, and is more black in colour.
LCC's dont seem to be huge on the hats, but airlines like AirAsia seem to still employ them.
Uniforms at my company (both first issue and subsequent upgrades) are unceremoniously delivered to the pilot's base in a large plastic bag for collection from the office. Upgraded uniforms aren't even new issue, but the old uniform being returned with the extra stripes.
The industry generally is remarkably short on ceremony. The flying training schools however, love to make a big show of graduations and issuing stripes and wings for pretty much everything down to being able to tie your own shoe laces, but for the money they charge, so they bloody well ought to.
Boy, you should see some of the overseas students, four bloody great gold bars flying a Cessna 150, next it will be an all gold uniform with four blue stripes, on a serious note, Joe Public wants to see a smart looking crew turn out, also in the case of an evacuation a hat gives clear identity to the voice to be listened to, this has been demonstrated many times during real life and test evacuations. It seems that wings parades are a thing of the past, didnt one of your Royals recently just walk on stage to get his?
When I was promoted, the Training Captain just shook my hand and said " Congratulations, Captain, stop by Uniform Section and leave your jacket for re-braiding "
I then found that the Cabin Crew had sewn up the sleeves of my jacket, and cannabilised a Tampax pack from the forward toilet to get cotton wool to sew 'scrambled egg' to the peak of my cap. I wore that off the aircraft.
A few days later Rosters rang and asked to speak to Captain ExSp33db1rd - my wife said " I think you have the wrong number " and put the 'phone down !
Thank you all for your replies and please do keep them coming. It keeps us low time CPLs inspired in the hope that one day, we will be presented with an airline pilot uniform too, complete with stripes and wings, albeit, without the fanfare and ceremony that I had expected.
Yes, it's true that pilot schools have these presentation ceremonies for new graduates of CPLs, PPLs, first solo etc so that's why I thought it may have happened in the airlines too. It doesn't seem the case, but no worries either way.
When I completed my Command checkout in Christchurch the checker gave me a new set of stripes, a very short debrief and then off to the bar before we paxed back to Sydney. No ceremony or celebration though, I took care of that deficiency on my first trip a few days later!
The only "Wings" presentations I've had was when I got my PPL at the Royal Aero Club at Bankstown and later when I graduated my RAAF Pilots course at Pearce.
The Aero Club was run very much along military lines and the Wings night was a sit down dinner and a presentation by the CFI.
The RAAF ceremony was full blast, a parade, a flypast by the instructors, presentation of Wings by the WA State Governor and a ceremonial dinner in the Officer's Mess. Oh and a rather large hangover the next day!
Upgraded uniforms aren't even new issue, but the old uniform being returned with the extra stripes.
You were lucky. My old outfit used to send you to uniform stores to be issued with two strips of gold braid which you sewed onto your jacket yourself! In fairness though, they did give you a new set of epaulettes.
And the point about hats in emergencies - early item on the evac. checklist IIRC was "Captain....Don cap". I noticed recently that Easy flightdeck don't wear hats (or wings?) but they do have a little orange label on the seam of their jackets - rather in the style of London Transport uniforms. Nice.
Thanks BH. I always enjoy reading your posts. So you were with the RAAF before flying in the airlines? From what I've read of your posts, you're flying for the airline with the white kangaroo on the tail?
Yes, looking forward to the day when I can be attired in an airline pilot's uniform.
You get measured when you join and over the next few weeks/months you argue with the suppliers about what they have issued. Normal gripes are are trousers too long/short, wrong number of shirts, long sleeves instead of short (or vice versa), incorrect epaulettes etc. Your uniform is normally dispatched to the wrong base with the wrong name and you'll be lucky to get a correct and complete issue before your line training starts. For pilots (fortunately) there is no wings ceremony, they are just nailed in your jacket when you join.
Location: Kerikeri, New Zealand or Noosa Queensland. Depending on the time of year!
Being one of the "Older Generation", and having worn a uniform from the age of eleven (Naval School) I believe in the saying that, "Clothes make the Man".Like it or not, people do make judgments based on first impressions and a smartly attired crew speaks volumes.
Having worked for several airlines during my career I have been fortunate to work for companies that share that view and have provided generous amounts of smart tailor made uniforms, usually in the traditional navy blue tunic with gold insignia.
Part of my career was spent as the DFO/Chief Pilot of a small airline in northern Canada. The crews prior to my appointment were not required to wear uniform and those that did wore a mismatch of items. One of my first tasks was to correct this situation and supply a standard uniform. The response was immediate, the change being well received by our passengers and the crew alike.
We were measured for the uniform during company induction, and collected it in large cardboard boxes from an industrial estate round the back of the airport. Truly glamourous. Once back at the hotel, everyone sneaked off to their bedrooms, just to 'see if it fits'.
These days I can't wait to get out of uniform – it's a magnet for people who think you're in charge of lost and found, or need directions to the coach station in italian / greek / arabic etc, or want to know where check-in zone 'A' is when they're stood under an enormous sign saying 'C', with an equally enormous 'D' on one side and 'B' on the other.
That way you do not have hysteric travelers yelling at your face and almost even starting fights with you (during christmas travel and delays etc). Also, when you fly to poorer areas like Lima in Peru or Asuncion in Paraguay etc, it has already happened that crew transports were targeted by thieves so depending on where you go.
When I was in the airlines, the first thing I did after completing a flight and most captains did too was taking everything off that identified you as being a pilot.
As for hats. Thanks God I never had to wear those hats with the scrambled eggs on it. I do remember flying jump seat a lot for a sister airline that had to wear them and I can tell you something, they can make depending on the cabin size, the whole place smell like a gym. If you work in a hot climate and remember, most hats are dark blue that absorb a lot of heat, you will have a hot head and sweat, even during the shortest walking distances. Also I think it looks dumb personally.
In the beginning, when I was training for the airlines I had this fantasy about the Uniforms, the stripes and ID tag and all the girls and flight attendants and passengers looking up to me like I was some kind of superior being, but rather the total opposite happened. First of all these days the passengers don't give a crap because everywhere you look are pilots. Second, the flight attendant already mostly have dislikes towards flight crew because too many idiots already made very embarrassing attempts to try and get laid by them, so believe me, the days are over when flight attendants stood in line to give you a good night massage. Third, the uniforms are most of the times not even comfortable because they make them as cheap as possible these days, unless you fly for Alitalia, those pilots happen to wear Armani Suits, no joke.
Well, I am in executive aviation now and thanks God do not wear a uniform. I even saw some people fly in Polo and Jeans for their employers.
Trust me, initially you have a fantasy and a uniform fetish that you can't wait to look at yourself for hours in the mirror (all pilots that say they never did that are liars, by the way you encounter tons of those in the cabin, a good advice to you is to be yourself when the day comes). After a while however, you will wish you never have to wear the uniform again. Not to mention the processes you sometimes have to go through to obtain them in the airlines.
Also, the airline industry comes and goes, do not worry about the future. Population is growing and pilots will once again be scarce, the thing is, that these days you have to change continents sometimes if you want a job. But sitting around at home waiting for your local air carrier to hire you is a dangerous game my friend. Initially, take what there is.
Qantas and Qantaslink uniforms are identical. The link used to have different wings, but that changed around 18 months ago.
As others pointed out, we get our uniforms from the store; no special ceremony. Don't know about any special ceremony on promotion, but you do get a mention in the latest monthly newsletter ()
Personally I hate the pilot caps. They are an anachronism and come from a time when everybody wore a hat in public. IMHO, they don't have a place in the modern era.
Besides, we only ever wear our pilot caps when in publc view (i.e. in the terminal). They are taken off once we're in the flightdeck. If I want to reduce glare or when the sun is in an unfortunate position, I'll wear a baseball cap.
P.S. The majors in Oz are recruiting again, so it wont be more than a couple of years before you've got the quals yourself.