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More than 70,000 American Airlines workers to debut new uniforms

USA Today  2016-09-19 15:12:08

1 of 102 of 103 of 104 of 105 of 106 of 107 of 108 of 109 of 1010 of 10AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideYou?ll soon notice a new look for American Airlines employees. The frontline workers at the world?s biggest airline are switching to a long-anticipated new uniform, the first in nearly three decades.The switch will put more than 70,000 workers ? all of the company?s pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents and airline club workers ? into new duds starting with their first shifts Tuesday morning. The uniforms will sport a ?slate gray, cobalt and crisp white? color scheme, part of an effort by American to give its customer-facing employees a modern, new look.While the airline hopes the fresh new look is a hit with both workers and customers, it?s also an important sign of progress.The uniform overhaul represents one of the last ? and most visible ? signs of the American-US Airways merger, which officially closed in late 2013. The merger integration is nearing its end ? US Airways? last-ever flight flew last year ? but the combined carriers' crews had yet to share a common uniform.?It really shows us as one brand. And that was really the only thing that was still kind of lagging behind for customers ? being able to see that come together,? says Brady Byrnes, American?s Director of Global Marketing. ?It?s a huge milestone for us."American Airlines pilots will begin wearing these new uniforms starting Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. (Photo: American Airlines)USA TODAYUS Airways' final flight closes curtain on another major airlineThe new uniforms continue an effort by American to update its brand, which began even before the merger with US Airways. In 2013, the company unveiled a new paint scheme and logo, with American opting to keep it for the post-merger airline following an employee vote. The company has since been updating everything from its website to its airplanes with the new look.?We?ve been investing quite heavily on everything from re-branding all of our airports to painting aircraft,? says Fernand Fernandez, American?s VP of Global Marketing. ?This completes a lot of the customer-facing elements.?The uniforms will be worn by employees at American and its wholly owned regional carriers. Feeder carriers that American does not own, such as Republic Airlines, will not get the new uniforms.Even without the merger, however, uniforms were due for an update. At merger partner US Airways, employee uniforms were last given a broad overhaul nearly a decade ago. At American, Byrnes says, ?it was roughly the late 1980s when the last major refresh was done.??There have been some new ties and scarves, but we?ve pretty much been in the same clothing on the legacy AA side for greater than 25 years,? he says.Getting the look and feel of a uniform right is important for all airlines. But it?s perhaps especially so for American right now, says Seth Kaplan, editor at the Airline Weekly trade publication.USA TODAYTears, tales and champagne flow on US Airways' last-ever flight?As a customer, it still hasn?t felt like a completely unified airline," he says, noting that some employees are still wearing uniforms with US Airways branding. ?This is an important step in giving the impression to customers that this is one airline.?And, of course, smart new uniforms can go a long way in boosting morale among employees.?It matters,? Kaplan says. ?You want your people to be wearing something that they can take pride in and makes them feel good about the job they?re doing.?Arriving at the new look To bring workers? uniforms into the modern era, American says it worked closely with employees to get their feedback throughout the design process. It's an effort company officials say they?re especially proud of.?This has really been 100% employee-driven,? Byrnes says of the multi-year effort.Employees? contributions also extended to the new color palette, which plays off the colors from both American and US Airways.USA TODAYAmerican Airlines joins rush to Cuba with first flights?What our colleagues told us was that they wanted to somehow pay tribute to where they came from, but also that this is a great opportunity to hit the reset button,? he says.Beyond the main uniforms ? manufactured by Twin Hill ? American is touting a line of accessories produced in an exclusive partnership with Cole Haan.Fernandez says that working with Cole Haan, ?a great American brand, has further elevated the uniform,? with custom-designed handbags and other components that offer American some design flexibility.USA TODAYMarriott: All towels at U.S. hotels will be made in USA?This uniform is not going to just be delivered and then 10 or 15 years from now we?ll come back and update it,? Fernandez says. ?The promise we?ve made together with our employees is that every couple of years there will be new pieces to allow the collection to continue to be refreshed.?Also included in the uniforms and accessories: concessions for the modern world.American?s flight attendants, for example, now carry company-issued tablets to help take in-flight food and beverage orders. And the carrier?s pilots now carry iPads, allowing them to lighten the load of their flight bags by using the devices to replace paper manuals and maps.?All of their pieces have been designed for the tools that they have today,? Fernandez says of the uniforms and accessories that accompany them. ?That?s why it?s critical we continue to evolve this over a period of time, because things will change."We?re already starting to rethink what?s next," he adds.TWITTER: You can follow me at PICTURES: Scenes from the last-ever flight on US Airways1 of 332 of 333 of 334 of 335 of 336 of 337 of 338 of 339 of 3310 of 3311 of 3312 of 3313 of 3314 of 3315 of 3316 of 3317 of 3318 of 3319 of 3320 of 3321 of 3322 of 3323 of 3324 of 3325 of 3326 of 3327 of 3328 of 3329 of 3330 of 3331 of 3332 of 3333 of 33AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideIN PICTURES: American Airline begins regular Cuba service1 of 192 of 193 of 194 of 195 of 196 of 197 of 198 of 199 of 1910 of 1911 of 1912 of 1913 of 1914 of 1915 of 1916 of 1917 of 1918 of 1919 of 19AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideIN PICTURES: A look at some of US Airways' airplane liveries from the past 35 years1 of 382 of 383 of 384 of 385 of 386 of 387 of 388 of 389 of 3810 of 3811 of 3812 of 3813 of 3814 of 3815 of 3816 of 3817 of 3818 of 3819 of 3820 of 3821 of 3822 of 3823 of 3824 of 3825 of 3826 of 3827 of 3828 of 3829 of 3830 of 3831 of 3832 of 3833 of 3834 of 3835 of 3836 of 3837 of 3838 of 38AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideIN PICTURES: 30 cool aviation photos1 of 302 of 303 of 304 of 305 of 306 of 307 of 308 of 309 of 3010 of 3011 of 3012 of 3013 of 3014 of 3015 of 3016 of 3017 of 3018 of 3019 of 3020 of 3021 of 3022 of 3023 of 3024 of 3025 of 3026 of 3027 of 3028 of 3029 of 3030 of 30AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideRead or Share this story:

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