KLM staff are allowed to wear sneakers

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KLM announced that employees in uniform may wear sneakers starting from May 6th. This news immediately caught the attention of the media; I was interviewed for both television and an online article about this change. It’s being dubbed a ‘historic moment’, but is it really? In this article, I’ll tell you all about the new sneakers, the accompanying dress code, and why KLM is still somewhat conservative.

KLM staff are allowed to wear sneakers
Photos: KLM

Sneakers with uniform are nothing new

While the Dutch media portrays the change within KLM as a major shock, I’m not surprised. In recent years, more and more airlines have transitioned to comfortable shoes and clothing. The so-called casualization we see in offices has also extended to the aviation industry.

And it’s not surprising, as it’s no longer appropriate to require heels. I’ve always been puzzled by the disdain often expressed towards employers who include heels as part of the dress code, while this is considered normal for flight attendants. Why should these ladies be an exception when even staff in upscale hotels in Dubai wear sneakers? In the photo below, you can see that sneakers paired with representative workwear can be a very good combination.

Photo: Fairmont Dubai

Just a few months ago, in December 2023, Aerolineas Argentinas unveiled a new uniform, including a new pair of matching sneakers for their staff. A year earlier, the new Australian airline Bonza did the same. For their staff, even shorts are part of the uniform. And since 2021, the ladies at the Ukrainian SkyUp have been wearing sporty Nike Air Max shoes.

Bonza uniform with sneakers
Photos: Bonza

KLM staff are allowed to wear sneakers

After a year-long trial period, the Royal Dutch Airlines has also taken the step. They have even commissioned two pairs of sneakers designed by the Amsterdam-based footwear brand Filling Pieces. A dark blue model to accompany the cobalt blue uniforms and a black variant for the dark blue suits.

KLM staff are allowed to wear sneakers
Dark blue sneakers | Photos: KLM
KLM staff are allowed to wear sneakers
Black sneakers | Photos: KLM

While most airlines allow sneakers with all uniforms, KLM has made a different choice. If the ladies wear a skirt, they are still required to pull out their pumps. Because sneakers may only be worn with trousers.

It may be a small detail, but it immediately shows that KLM is not as progressive as it seems. Although we see sneakers more and more often under dresses and skirts both in companies and on the street, people still have the idea that this is not acceptable. The photo at the top of this article from the Fairmont Dubai hotel shows that it can be a fine combination.

KLM staff are allowed to wear sneakers
Photos: KLM

For employees who are attached to their traditional shoes, this change doesn’t impede their preference. They are free to choose what they wear. Staff members may also wear sneakers from their personal collection, provided they meet the requirements set by the airline. They must be made of smooth (imitation) leather and have a white sole.

While I am a fan of pumps, I wholeheartedly welcome this change. It’s important that staff, wherever they work, can do so comfortably.



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