1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
An Air India flight lands at Vancouver International Airport
The new guidelines for Air India cabin crew include detailed rules for hairstyles, jewelry and even what to wear when not on dutyImage: Bayne Stanley/ZUMA/picture alliance
Cars and TransportationIndia

Air India tells cabin crew to get rid of gray hair — reports

Rebecca Staudenmaier
November 25, 2022

New etiquette rules for the Indian airline have raised eyebrows and sparked a debate among users online. Gray hair should be dyed regularly while male staff with receding hairlines should shave their heads.


Air India is facing criticism over new grooming guidelines for its cabin crew that were published in the Indian media.

The strict rules include five pages dedicated to hairstyles alone, while other sections dictate strict guidelines for what staff are allowed to wear in hotels.

What are the new rules?

All cabin crew have been told to regularly dye gray hair, according to a document published by Indian broadcaster NDTV.

It is mandatory for crew with "frizzy hair" to undergo hair smoothing or relaxing treatments.

"Wavy, curly and frizzy hair cannot be left open," the guidelines state, adding: "Bushy, unruly and unbecoming hairstyles are not permitted."

Bangs on the forehead and side bangs are also banned. Hair pieces and wigs can only be worn if there is a "medical reason" and if they receive written permission from the airline.

"Crew with a very big forehead or scanty hairline should style the front hair with a side sweep and must cover the receding hairline," the guidelines instruct.

Men with bald spots or receding hairlines are also instructed to "keep a full bald look."

"Head must be shaved daily for a clean look. Crew cut is not permitted," the handbook reads, according to NDTV. Beards are also banned except for Sikh cabin crew.

Nose piercings are not permitted. Certain types of religious jewelry are also not allowed.

"Wedding choora, religious threads, black threads, beads on wrist, ankles and forearms are not permitted," the guidebook reads.

Cabin crew who are on leave, but traveling with Air India are also barred from wearing short skirts, "hot pants" and torn jeans.

Controversy online

The new guidelines sparked debates online, with some users criticizing the rules as sexist and ageist. Others objected to the curbs on religious jewelry.

News agency ANI, citing unnamed Air India sources, defended the new rules as necessary to compete on the international stage.

"Air India is the only airline in the country which has been serving the world for many decades. Representations and images of the crew are not as per international standards. The new management wants to change the perception of flyers," one of the airline sources was quoted as saying by ANI.

This report was written in part with material from news agency dpa.

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Russland St. Petersburg | Vladimir Putin und Alexander Lukashenko

Russia to store tactical nuclear arms in Belarus

Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage