Is My New Airline Uniform Vegan???

Early next year, Air Canada is launching a brand new look for all of its front line employees. Its an exciting time for us since the release of this new uniform is the culmination of literally years of planning. A rebranding of this magnitude involves virtually every echelon of the organization; from health and safety, marketing, upper management all the way to unionized groups everyone is involved in one way shape or form. For airlines, these type of projects come on average every eight to ten years and usually involves new routes, new livery designs, new planes, new onboard products and uniforms… and is it ever magnificent! Everything looks sharp, current and I am personally in love with this new look of ours. Air Canada obviously has a great vision for our future and I’m liking the direction we are taking.

Uniform Fitting

In order to launch a new uniform at a major carrier, all uniform wearing employees need to get fitted months prior to the official release date. A couple of weeks ago I set up an appointment with the uniform room here in Vancouver and yesterday I made my way to the airport to get fitted. The staff is well organized… they know the drill and they get us moving quickly making sure every part of the uniform fits perfectly well. From pants, shirts, blazers, vests and topper coats everything needs to fit nicely if it’s ever going to look good. When we got to trying on winter gloves, belts and shoes they were made out of leather and realized not all of my uniform would be vegan. Wondering if other components were hiding animal products I asked the attendant if the uniform was made out of wool. She proudly answered yes. You have to understand that when it comes to airline uniforms, wool is the gold standard; it serves two purposes, first it looks great… second it protects flight attendants if faced with on board fires; something made out of synthetic fabric could literally melt on your skin.. Unfortunately for a hardcore vegan like me, finding out that most of my airline uniform is made out of animal products was more than disappointing. I tried not to order the gloves and the murse (man purse) as they were both made out of leather but there were no options not to order… Only the shoes were optional which is a good thing since I already own vegan friendly shoes. I asked the attendant if there were other material other than wool I could try on and order but unfortunately for the sheeps and myself there are no other alternatives at this time. So I placed my mandatory order and made my way back home riddled with guilt.

So What next?

Well my next step is a bit more complicated. I’m very passionate about my job and I understand there are regulations in place that dictates what type of material are to be used in the making of airline uniforms. Many of these regulations are aimed at protecting the lives of employees and the flying public in case of emergencies but I personally think we can also protect animals in the process. Having said that, I am firmly convinced there are suitable alternatives out there. For instance, there are vegan leathers for shoes, gloves and belts as well as plant based material that could potentially replace and out perform wool. If any major organization can do this, Air Canada can. However, we may have to work with Transport Canada to get things approved. Over the years our airline has faced many hurdles always rising to the challenge where other airlines have failed; I know it’s a challenge we can tackle.

Long Road Ahead

In the upcoming weeks I will try to contact someone in management and find out if they would be receptive to working with me in order to come up with vegan friendly alternatives. It is of course a little too late in the process to deploy something for next year but we will most likely be wearing this awesome new design for the next decade; I am sure we could source economical safe vegan friendly fabric within that time frame. As a proud Air Canada employee, I would love nothing more than to work with my employer and hopefully address this issue which I deeply care about. In the mean time I would like to congratulate Air Canada on its amazing rebranding effort. I am looking forward to see all the pieces of the puzzle come together next year… I’m definitely a fan! If any of you know of natural non animal fabric that could be suitable for an airline uniform I would love to hear from you in the comment section. You can also get in touch with me through our contact form. Thank you. If you’ve enjoyed this post feel free to make your way to Warning! Animal Products Ahead! to find out what animal products could be lurking in everyday items and food you thought were vegan. //
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About Janik Lamontagne

Janik Lamontagne is a Canadian west coast vegan marathoner and world traveller with a passion for the betterment of health through exercise, nutrition and technology while promoting a vegan lifestyle for the betterment of animal welfare and stewardship of planet earth.