United accidentally sent an unfinished draft of an email scolding flight attendants for not dressing properly

United mistakenly sent an unfinished draft of an email encouraging flight attendants to pay more attention to their attire.

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United mistakenly sent an unfinished draft of an email encouraging flight attendants to pay more attention to their attire.
source
United Airlines

  • United Airlines criticized the attire and personal grooming decisions made by flight attendants in an email it mistakenly sent to employees, Skift first reported.
  • The email was a “preliminary version” of a later email it sent which encouraged flight attendants to pay more attention to how they dress on flights.
  • Both emails express concern for skirts with improper lengths, shirts with wrinkles or stains, or visibly worn-out shoes, and personal grooming issue.

United Airlines criticized the attire and personal grooming decisions made by flight attendants in an email it mistakenly sent to employees, Skift first reported.

The first email – sent by John Slater, United’s vice president of in-flight operations – was a “preliminary version” of a later email which was written in collaboration with United’s flight attendant union, Slater writes in the second email. Both emails express concern for skirts with improper lengths, shirts with wrinkles or stains, visibly worn-out shoes, and personal grooming issues.

Business Insider obtained a copy of each email. They have similar content, though the first takes a slightly more critical tone than the second.

“Over time, we became too relaxed in our standards and appearance compliance has suffered,” Slater wrote in the first. “As we move toward uniting our work forces and focus on improving the image of United Airlines, it’s the perfect time to raise the bar and own this.”

In the second email, Slater offers explanations for declining uniform adherence that are beyond employees’ control.

“Perhaps because of the distractions of our industry or the merger of our airlines, over time, we became too relaxed in compliance with established standards,” he wrote. “We lost our focus on the value uniform standards have on our customers’ perception of our company. As we move forward in uniting flight attendants for that day when we will all work together, now is the time to focus on improving the image of United Airlines. It’s the perfect opportunity to raise the bar and own this.”

A United representative told Business Insider that the airline’s message to flight attendants received an “overwhelming positive reaction.”

The airline is also hosting “image fairs” where flight attendants are taught the airline’s expectations for in-flight attire.

A Twitter user posted photos of an image fair in early May.

In March, United announced a new, lottery-based bonus system that angered some employees. Three days later, the airline said it would put the new bonus system on hold in response to employee”feedback and concerns.”

You can read each email below.

First email:

United Inflight Team,
I’m writing to you today to discuss an issue many of you have either written or spoken to me about. That’s our professional appearance standards. We all know that there is room to improve customer perception and every single employee needs to take an active role in achieving that objective. Our customers often make instantaneous assessments about our professionalism based on how we look, dress and engage with them.
No other work group is better positioned to improve the brand image of United than the Inflight team. We spend the most time with the customer and care for them on the most important part of their journey. One of the ways we can change customer impressions for the better is improving our appearance standards. Remember how sharp we all looked the day we were pinned with our wings? We need to regain that passion for excellence.
Everyone wants to work for a winning team and be respected as the professionals we are. A large part of achieving that goal is looking sharp from head to toe. Over time, we became too relaxed in our standards and appearance compliance has suffered. As we move toward uniting our work forces and focus on improving the image of United Airlines, it’s the perfect time to raise the bar and own this.
Common deviations we see are skirts that are too high, wearing of non-uniform or worn out footwear, wrinkled or stained uniform shirts, and personal grooming issues. We need to restore the pride and purpose of what it means to be a United flight attendant and set the standard for the industry. To get this campaign started, we’ll be holding image fairs in the bases each quarter. These will focus on different uniform elements and they will run through October. We’re also planning a few surprises to make this campaign fun and festive. Stay tuned for additional details in your base.
Uniform compliance is just one element of improving customer perceptions, but nothing is more effective than a bright smile or engaged workforce. Let’s show customers what the United Inflight team is made of by committing to looking our very best.
Sincerely,
John
Second email:
Dear Inflight Team, As we were preparing the Leadership Update you received from me yesterday, a preliminary version was sent out by mistake. Below is the intended communication, which we created in close collaboration with the AFA. I apologize that you received two messages, and I want to thank you for taking a little more time to read through this valuable information. Sincerely, John
United Inflight Team,
First impressions are lasting impressions. As is often said, there is never a better opportunity to make a lasting impression than through a first impression. As the work group spending the greatest amount of time with our customers, we all know that customers often make instantaneous assessments about our professionalism based not only on how we engage and interact with them one on one, but also on how we look and dress.
As flight attendants, no other work group is better positioned to improve United’s brand image. We care for our customers on the most important part of their journey, spending long periods of time with them. The time we spend during the journey with our customers gives us many opportunities to affect their perception of our airline and to form opinions about our professionalism. An unexpected smile, the warmth of an interaction with a small child or that extra moment we take in meeting the unique needs of a customer all witnessed from the perspective of the customer in seat 38E are invaluable opportunities to change the view of our airline. We are, in fact, always on stage.
All of us want to work for a winning team and to be respected for our professional contributions to the success of our airline. Looking sharp in our uniforms, from head to toe, is yet another way we can impact customer perception. Take a moment to remember the pride you felt on that day you pinned on your wings and how sharp you looked. This is the passion for excellence we need to regain in meeting our uniform standards.
Over my short tenure with Inflight, many of you have written or spoken to me to share your concerns about our uniform standards. You have shared not only your concerns but have also told me about how the uniform, worn well by another colleague, impacts how you feel about your profession and the work you do each day.
Perhaps because of the distractions of our industry or the merger of our airlines, over time, we became too relaxed in compliance with established standards. We lost our focus on the value uniform standards have on our customers’ perception of our company. As we move forward in uniting flight attendants for that day when we will all work together, now is the time to focus on improving the image of United Airlines. It’s the perfect opportunity to raise the bar and own this.
The first part of this process is acknowledging there is room to improve customer perception. Each one of us throughout our Inflight organization must take an active role in achieving this objective. From a leadership perspective, we’re moving forward in designing a new, high-quality uniform that will meet your needs in the work place and will provide you with the tools you need to meet this goal.
In the interim, we need to set the standard for the industry. To get this campaign started, we will be holding image fairs in the bases each quarter, which will focus on different uniform elements where deviation from standards is commonly seen. Common deviations include skirt lengths that don’t conform to the standard, wearing of non-uniform or worn-out footwear, wrinkled or stained uniform shirts, as well as personal grooming issues. We’re also planning a few surprises to make the campaign fun and festive. Stay tuned for additional details in your base.
Uniform compliance is everyone’s responsibility. It’s one element that has a big impact on customers’ perception of our airline. I am asking that we work together on this to show customers what our United Inflight Team is made of by making the commitment to looking our professional best.
Sincerely,
John

If you work for United and have a story to share, you can contact this reporter atmmatousek@businessinsider.com.