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Old 03-21-2017, 03:20 PM   #1  
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Default Changing the Beard Rule

Today I wrote to ALPA regarding the rules virtually all major airlines have regarding facial hair. I my mind the rules are archaic, as we know the oxygen mask concern is false and beards can be manicured to look suitable for professional in uniform. For many people having a manicured beard is part of their identity. As a bald guy, it is one of the few ways to add character while avoiding looking like a skinhead.

Regardless of whether you'd like to sport a beard or think pilots look better without them, I hope we can have consensus that it should be left up to individual choice rather than our employer as long as it is kept up well. It could even help recruit young new pilots.

What I wrote to ALPA:
Aside from Hawaiian Airlines, the entire US airline policy on facial hair seems antiquated. Considering the pilot shortage and current trend in beards (from one quarter inch and longer,) it would seem like the airlines should finally consider changing their rules on pilots facial hair. I personally am bald, and having a beard is the only thing that prevents my looking like a creep or a skinhead, so I would like to do whatever I can to get this vestigial rule eliminated. Who would I talk to or leverage to start working on this? Thank you
They're response:
Tim – Thanks for contacting [email protected]. Our understanding is that several U.S. airlines permit pilots to grow mustaches that adhere to certain restrictions, but that beards are taboo. Some of these policies were originally established because of a concern that facial hair might not allow an oxygen mask to fully seal around a pilot’s face. However, the maintenance of current facial hair rules appears to be more closely tied to projecting what some feel is a professional image. The bottom line is that these are human resources policies and, given the culture at some airlines, they may be viewed as rigidly as the use of uniforms.

However, it’s been said that everything is negotiable. You might want to talk to your fellow pilots to see if others feel the same way you do. With some support, you could address this issue with your local council officers to see if the group would want to revisit the pilot facial hair policy as part of its bargaining efforts. Pilot negotiating committees meet with management to bargain for contracts, but they also convene between these full-scale negotiations to address individual letters of agreement (LOA) and memoranda of understanding (MOU).

Again, if enough pilots felt the same way you do, perhaps facial hair is something your pilot group could bargain for.

ALPA Communications
So what do you think? Would anyone support presenting this rule change to the local council and push it further?
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Old 03-21-2017, 03:27 PM   #2  
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Perhaps you could argue from the side of a religious belief/discrimination? You would probably have to take it all the way to the Supreme Court when you get denied... I am on your side. I hate shaving.

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Old 03-21-2017, 03:30 PM   #3  
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I have no experience of this to the aviation industry, but in other industries that don't allow facial hair, there has been conversation allowing a beard as long as it is "kept", but that opened a whole new can of worms about what "kept" looks like, and who decides "kept" vs. "unkept". Ultimately it is easier to say "no" than to fight that fight.
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Old 03-21-2017, 03:30 PM   #4  
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Perhaps you could argue from the side of a religious belief/discrimination? You would probably have to take it all the way to the Supreme Court when you get denied... I am on your side. I hate shaving.

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Perhaps as an agnostic/atheist it is my strict belief to grow my facial hair however the hell I want?

It really is a "minor" thing overall, which is why I think it just never gets pushed too hard. If there is a consensus the rule is dumb and should be changed I think we could do it.
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Old 03-21-2017, 03:33 PM   #5  
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Originally Posted by Wags808 View Post
Perhaps as an agnostic/atheist it is my strict belief to grow my facial hair however the hell I want?

It really is a "minor" thing overall, which is why I think it just never gets pushed too hard. If there is a consensus the rule is dumb and should be changed I think we could do it.
Who am I to argue with your own personal beliefs? Sounds legit to me![emoji3]

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Old 03-21-2017, 03:45 PM   #6  
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Originally Posted by Beaverbeliever View Post
I have no experience of this to the aviation industry, but in other industries that don't allow facial hair, there has been conversation allowing a beard as long as it is "kept", but that opened a whole new can of worms about what "kept" looks like, and who decides "kept" vs. "unkept". Ultimately it is easier to say "no" than to fight that fight.
I could see that argument coming, even though it is pretty weak. In an age when companies are expanding on personal liberties and expression, why are the airlines pretending to be holier than thou?

I suppose I just don't understand what they are afraid of. Offending a handful of prudes?
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Old 03-21-2017, 03:49 PM   #7  
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Originally Posted by Wags808 View Post
I could see that argument coming, even though it is pretty weak. In an age when companies are expanding on personal liberties and expression, why are the airlines pretending to be holier than thou?

I suppose I just don't understand what they are afraid of. Offending a handful of prudes?
Not arguing in any direction, just providing perspective. If I was playing devil's advocate, I would suggest that they may feel it is a slippery slope. One day pilots can want beards, the next day neck tattoos. Overall I believe the airlines/unions have bigger fish to fry than facial hair.
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Old 03-21-2017, 03:57 PM   #8  
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Just what I want to clean out of the O2 mask, your facial hair.

Unprofessional looking to boot.
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Old 03-21-2017, 04:00 PM   #9  
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Originally Posted by Beaverbeliever View Post
Not arguing in any direction, just providing perspective. If I was playing devil's advocate, I would suggest that they may feel it is a slippery slope. One day pilots can want beards, the next day neck tattoos. Overall I believe the airlines/unions have bigger fish to fry than facial hair.
I know what you mean. I'd say we should move past a slippery slope objection and the "we have bigger issues" idea and push through what I'd imagine is a relatively common sense consensus perspective.

We're pilots, not robots!
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Old 03-21-2017, 04:02 PM   #10  
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Just what I want to clean out of the O2 mask, your facial hair.

Unprofessional looking to boot.
Meh. grumble grumble grumble. You feel that strongly that it is "unprofessional?" You think it is a good rule to make people shave 24/7? What effect would it have on the airline?
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