Have you ever paid attention to what flight attendants are wearing when you board a plane? No doubt you’ve noticed a crisp uniform, but the style may have slipped by you.

Female flight attendants for Hong Kong’s Cathay Airlines are getting newly designed uniforms thanks to the company ditching its skirts-only policy. But this new decision didn’t come easy. Flight staff have been fighting for this change for the past four years through the union, and the airline finally caved.

What prompted the request? Female flight crew members have argued that the skirts and blouses restrict movement, and have made it difficult to bend or reach. One of the complaints was that the blouses are so short that they cause too much exposure when one moves a certain way.

They also pointed out that the current policy was archaic, and they wanted to wear uniforms that are gender-equal. Being able to wear pants is a big deal for the company whose rule has been in place for 70 years. But there is a catch as it could as long as three years for the change to be implemented.

Cathay’s next uniform update isn’t planned until then. Union leaders are hoping that pants will be added as an option in the interim. In an interview with the South China Post, the chairwoman of Cathay Pacific’s flight attendants union, Vera Wu Yee-mei, had this to say:

“The stereotype of the flight attendant is very old-style already: looking pretty, full make-up and wearing a skirt. It is a good time to have a revamp of our image. It excites us, this idea, that we can think about this direction, so maybe we can do some joint action [with Cathay Dragon] and support them to fight for this issue all together.”

The revamp will follow suit after what some American-based airlines and British Airways have already done in allowing both their male and female crew members to wear trousers. Advocates of the uniform option feel that not only will it help to keep women warmer during the winter months, but that it also will cut down on sexual harassment.

Shaking up traditional workwear in the airline industry is nothing new, but there certainly has been a surge from within the women’s ranks in the past decade or so. Cathay will be joining the likes of Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Air India, and Bangkok Airlines.

In most cases, it’s been the voices of staff that have driven the biggest changes to uniform policies within these companies. Cathay Pacific has consistently rated high among the world’s top airlines, with travelers loving the comfort of their planes, the food, and the staff’s service.

With flight crew members who will feel more comfortable, safe, and equal with having the option to wear pants, Cathay can ensure they’re creating a happier environment for their team too. Watch the video below to learn more!

What do you think of this airline modernizing their staff’s look? Have you noticed any airlines where female flight crew members must wear dresses or skirts? Were you aware that staff had to fight for such changes?