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American Pilot Confronts CEO Over Uniforms

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 6 days ago Rich Thomaselli

A New American Airlines 737-800 Aircraft with a New Painting and the Company's New Logo Sits at a Gate at the O'hare International Airport in Chicago Illinois Usa 29 January 2013 United States Chicago © Krzaczynski/Epa A New American Airlines 737-800 Aircraft with a New Painting and the Company's New Logo Sits at a Gate at the O'hare International Airport in Chicago Illinois Usa 29 January 2013 United States Chicago American Airlines pilot Captain Joe Catan confronted airline president Robert Isom last week at an employee town hall, telling him the troublesome new uniform American rolled out to employees last year is impacting his ability to work.

"I do not have a safe environment in the cockpit,” Catan said in audio obtained by the Chicago Business Journal from a monthly town hall meeting in New York.

American distributed nearly 2 million uniform pieces last September to some 80,000 workers, including flight attendants, gate agents, baggage handlers and pilots from garment manufacturer Twin Hill. Almost immediately, flight attendants began experiencing health problems ranging from rashes and itching to respiratory issues.

Twin Hill says its testing has shown chemicals found in the clothing are below levels that would affect the wearer.

Catan—and thousands of crew members—would dispute that.

Related slideshow: The Most Stylish Flight Attendant Uniforms (Provided by Condé Nast Traveler)

<p>Flying, for most of us, is <a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-11-06/the-chicest-new-airline-uniforms-from-prabal-gurung-to-christian-lacroix?mbid=synd_msntravel">not an especially fashionable experience</a>. Overstuffed <a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-11-06/the-chicest-new-airline-uniforms-from-prabal-gurung-to-christian-lacroix?mbid=synd_msntravel">overhead racks</a>, ten-abreast coach seats on 15-hour flights, à la carte this—à la carte that: these are the realities of air travel in economy in 2016. But, even as drink carts pummel your elbows and your seatback TVs flicker and go dark, there’s still a tiny sliver of glamour when airborne: the clothes. Airlines have a <a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-11-06/the-chicest-new-airline-uniforms-from-prabal-gurung-to-christian-lacroix?mbid=synd_msntravel">long history of tapping designers</a> to create their staff uniforms, and the <a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-11-06/the-chicest-new-airline-uniforms-from-prabal-gurung-to-christian-lacroix?mbid=synd_msntravel">tradition, of late, has yielded some noteworthy</a> and chic results (even when those airlines have not used quote-unquote “famous” names). Here, Condé Nast Traveler<a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-11-06/the-chicest-new-airline-uniforms-from-prabal-gurung-to-christian-lacroix?mbid=synd_msntravel">details some recent</a> mile-high hits.</p><p>This gallery was originally published in 2015. It has been updated with new information.</p> The Most Stylish Flight Attendant Uniforms Catan said he arrives for work in good health but then suffers respiratory issues, headaches and rashes when he puts on the uniform and gets to the cockpit, noting that “reactions increase with wear.”

"I'm the canary in the coal mine," he said, according to the CBJ. "I don't have a safe environment. What are we going to do about it?"

Isom said several options are on the table, including new material and uniform combinations, with more coming.

American has declined to recall the Twin Hill uniforms but did give flight attendants options for polyester or cotton fabrics. Or, they could wear their former uniforms if it matched the scheme of the new uniforms.

Catan had another solution.

"Get everyone out of those (Twin Hill) uniforms immediately,” he told Isom.

Related video: American Airlines uniform row heats up as maker lashes back (Provided by USA TODAY)

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