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United Has New Uniforms — and There's a Reason Airlines Are Dressing Their Employees in Purple

Travel + Leisure logo Travel + Leisure 1/17/2019 Cailey Rizzo

a group of people posing for the camera: United Airlines New Uniforms

United Airlines New Uniforms
© Courtesy of United Airlines

United Airlines is incorporating purple into its new look — from the new uniforms that all 70,000 frontline employees will soon be sporting to new fabrics on its seating.

The new uniforms were developed in partnerships with Tracy Reese, Brooks Brothers, and Carhartt. Much of the new design is developed around the airline’s new color scheme.

The central color is “Rhapsody Blue,” which anyone who has seen the United logo will recognize. But the rest of the palette is heavy on neutral blues, grays, and purples.

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Female cabin crew will don a a dress with a lilac arm and an azure “Pacific Blue” curving stripe. Male flight attendants will have purple “Atlantic Amethyst” accents in their uniform, including on ties and pocket squares.

In addition to cabin crew, everyone from tech ops employees to customer service representatives will get new uniforms. United says below the wing uniforms will roll out at the end of 2019 and above the wing in fall 2020.

The addition of purple is no accident. Of all the color wheel, purple tends to be perceived as the most royal and trustworthy color — traits that flight attendant uniforms would want to convey. Purple also brings up subconscious connotations of bravery, luxury, and wisdom.

“When you get on the plane, they’re the first people you see,” Brooks Brothers designer Brian Lane told USA Today of the cabin crew. “They want to express their pride and their uniform to the customer who comes in. Because at the end of the day, flying is still something special."

Research by a consultancy firm called Color Communications Inc. found that it only takes 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion of a brand — and up to 90 percent of that opinion can be influenced by color.

At a time when trust in airlines is at an all-time low (only 44 percent of passengers trust they’ll be treated fairly if things go wrong), United isn’t the only airline to add purple to their visuals. In 2018, Delta revealed new uniforms that went heavy on purple — despite being a brand new color to the airline’s visuals.

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