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Why Can’t Airline Pilots Have Beards?

Airline Pilot Beard Policy

Have you ever noticed that pilots always look clean? Unlike many other professions where facial hair is a matter of personal style, pilots must maintain a clean-cut appearance not a matter of coincidence or personal preference.

Airline pilots can’t have beards because of some safety reasons behind the pilot’s shaving policy. In this blog, post we provide you with all your answers about Pilots having beards.

Can Pilots Have Beards?

Pilots can not have beards because it is more than a sign of professionalism. This is an important safety rule that ensures a perfect seal of oxygen mask in an emergency. 

Furthermore, the reasons why pilots can not have a beard and the importance of prioritizing aviation safety of airline pilots having beards are given below:

  • Oxygen Mask Sealing: In emergencies such as rapid decompression, pilots need oxygen masks to function properly. Beards can disrupt the seal between the mask and face, causing hypoxia at high altitudes where oxygen is low. Oxygen mask seals can impede judgment and decision-making and endanger the safety of everyone on board.
  • Professionalism and Uniformity: Pilot’s professionalism in airlines goes beyond technical skills. Pilots represent airlines and businesses, and their appearance plays an important role. A clean-shaved face indicates discipline, order, and commitment to the requirements of the role. This consistency instills trust and confidence among passengers.
  • Equipment Compatibility: Pilots rely on sophisticated equipment, such as headsets and other equipment designed to work well with a clean face. Beards can interfere with equipment operation, prevent clear communication, and create discomfort on long flights. Moreover, ensuring that equipment can be used with a clean surface maintains efficiency and allows pilots to do their jobs without disruption.
  • Health Considerations: Pilots with beards in the confined cockpit environment require vigilance regarding hygiene. Beards can carry bacteria and other diseases. Keeping your face unshaven reduces health risks for crew and passengers and helps maintain overall health.

Current Airline Policies on Pilot Beards

As per the airline’s policies, some airline pilots keep clean beards and look for optimal oxygen mask seals in emergencies, while others airlines allow pilots well-maintained trimmed beards. The focus on cleaning the shavings stems from safety concerns because proper sealing is essential for the health of pilots at high altitudes.

But recently some airlines have begun to relax their pilot’s beards policies to reflect the changing culture. This means you may find that some pilots with beards. However, many legacy airlines implement a stricter airline pilot beard policy as part of their design. 

Ultimately, the answer to the question of whether airline pilots can grow beards depends on the airline’s rules. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (FAR) does not regulate pilot’s beards, so it comes down to company policies and workplace culture.

Which Airlines Allow Pilots To Have Beards?

Airline’s beard policies for pilots vary. This different rule stems from concerns that the oxygen mask could be compromised in an emergency.

However, there is no scientific consensus on the safety effects of growing a beard as a pilot. Some airlines also allow exemptions to the pilot’s beard policy for religious or medical reasons.

So let’s talk about which airlines allow their pilots to have beards.

  • Delta Airlines: As per Delta Airlines Policies they do not allow any facial hair on their pilots.
  • GoJet Airlines: According to GoJet Airlines Policies, it only allows clean mustaches & prohibits beards and goatees, and a clean face requires nicely trimmed sideburns that do not extend past the ears.
  • Canada Jetlines: Beards are now allowed in Canadian Jetline Policies. They reversed their previous ban after research showed facial hair was not associated with oxygen mask use.
  • United Airlines: As per United Airlines Policies, they do not allow beards on their pilots.

NOTE: Check out an airline’s careers page or hiring information to find out about their requirement for beards.

Safety Considerations

Safety is a priority for pilots, and that extends to their beards. The main problem is keeping the oxygen mask properly sealed in emergencies. A safety mask is essential for flying at high altitudes where oxygen is low.

Although some airlines have more flexible commercial policies for pilots having beards, most airlines are concerned about the safety of pilots in this regard.

In addition to oxygen masks, some airlines do not allow pilots to have long beards as it leads to poor vision & may prevent the use of other safety equipment or an emergency.

Army Beard Pilot Program

As per the Army beard pilot program, the “House” has approved a plan to measure beard allowances for Air Force and Space Force members over three years. The pilot project will measure the impact of beards on technology use, including ethics and collaboration.

They will focus on:

  • Safety: Do pilot beards affect the seal of masks and other breathing equipment? Research on the subject has yielded mixed results; some have found almost nothing on pilots’ beards affecting the seal of masks, Therefore, others have found seals affecting oxygen masks because of pilot’s beards. The Air Force needs to decide whether it’s worth the risk.
  • Inclusivity: Pilots with beards are prone to pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB), a skin condition that causes itching and ingrown hairs. Can airlines be more inclusive and allow pilots with medical records like PFB to grow beards while maintaining safety standards? Some airlines currently offer exemptions for shaving in certain cases, but changing the policy could provide a better solution.
  • Effects on Behavior and Discipline: How Does Beard Affect Army Pilots? While some think that beards can create a feeling of peace, while others worry that beards can make people feel good. This study will test these hypotheses in an experimental setting.

The Debate on Pilot Beards & Safety

Can Pilots Fly Safely with Having Beards? Therefore, there are many things like this in the airline industry about the pilot’s beards, and the answer is complex of these things.

Concerns about beards

The main concern about pilots having beards is that they can interfere with important safety equipment they use in any typical situation.

  • At high altitudes where oxygen is very thin, pilots need oxygen masks to ensure safety and awareness. Beards can break this seal, affecting the oxygen supply.
  • Having long beards may also hinder the use of other safety equipment, such as a respirator or headset, which are necessary for clear communication in emergencies.

Additional Safety Considerations

  • Some believe that airline pilots’ beards can make flying safer in an emergency. For example, in a smoky cockpit, beards can make it difficult to use an oxygen mask properly or communicate clearly over an intercom system.
  • It is important to understand these safety issues of having beards as a pilot, especially for student pilots. They need to be aware of how their grooming choices may affect their ability to respond effectively in stressful and critical situations.

Arguments for Powers

  • Proponents of beard for airline pilots highlight its benefits. Beards can provide some protection from the hot sun and cold winds, especially at higher altitudes.
  • They can also help filter out dust and pollen, which can be a problem for pilots.

In addition, some airlines view beards as a matter of personal preference and allow pilots to express themselves in the normal course of business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does United Airlines allow pilots to grow beards?

United Airlines has a beardless policy for pilots & does not allow its pilots to have beards.

Can Pilots have clean-kept beards?

Yes, pilots must keep their beards clean if the airline has rules.

Can regional airline pilots have a beard?

Yes, some airlines allow pilots to have beards, and some do not as it varies based on their policies.

Does the  FAA allow beards?

FAA beard policy strictly prohibits pilots from having beards, even if it’s nicely trimmed. This applies to all pilots regardless of religion. But pilot’s beard policies of airlines may differ.

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