Which Airlines Allow Beards? What to Know About Pilots and Beards

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People have questions about pilots and beards, such as which airlines allow beards? Some wonder if having a beard might interfere with the seals on a pilot’s oxygen mask, or whether facial hair might cause problems with sensors that measure airflow around the plane. Others simply find beards unappealing or think they make a pilot seem less professional.

This article will explore the various policies airlines have regarding beards and pilots. so that readers can make their own informed decisions.

Do Airline Pilots Have Beards?

It’s a common misconception that airlines do not allow pilots to have beards. In fact, most of the major carriers in the United States and Canada do permit facial hair on their pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permits all licensed U.S. flight crews to grow beards if they want to so long as they are neat and tidy, but it is up to individual airlines whether or not they will hire someone with facial hair if no other qualified job applicant applies for the position first.

Why do Some Airlines Not Allow an Airline Pilot to Have a Beard?

Airline stewardess with an oxygen mask.

There are several reasons why an airline might not allow its pilots to have beards. While some of these reasons don’t seem to make much sense, others are based on well-founded safety concerns. Here are a few reasons.

Oxygen Mask Fit

Some airlines believe that beards make it difficult to get a proper seal on an oxygen mask in the event of an emergency. While this may have been true in the past, modern oxygen masks are designed to fit snugly around any facial feature, including a beard of a certain length. That being said, some airlines in the aviation industry, even if they allow facial hair on a bearded person, require it to be short and well-trimmed so that it doesn’t interfere with the seal of one’s own oxygen mask.


In more recent years, concerns about sensors that measure airflow around an airplane have led some airlines to ban beards. These sensors are critical for measuring and controlling air pressure in the cockpit and on the plane as a whole. Beards can cause turbulent airflows that can negatively affect the readings these sensors take, which could lead to disastrous consequences. Whether this is true or not is up to scientific debate, but it’s a concern that some airlines take seriously.

Facial Hair Aesthetics

Finally, some airlines simply find beards unappealing or think they make a pilot seem less professional. This is a purely subjective opinion, however, and there is no real evidence to suggest that beards have any impact on a pilot’s ability to do his or her job. In fact, studies have shown that pilots with beards are no less safe than those who do not have facial hair. The idea of beards being unaesthetic goes back to the 1960s when people associated beards with the hippie movement and counterculture. In recent years, however, beards have become more mainstream, and even trendy, so this opinion is slowly changing.

Do U.S. Airlines Differ From Airlines in Other Countries?

Yes and no. The FAA, which sets the regulations for pilots in the United States, allows facial hair on all licensed U.S. flight crews. However, US-based airlines can make their own policy regarding beards. This means that some airlines in the United States do not allow most pilots to have beards, while other non-US airlines do.

In other parts of the world, however, the regulations are not as clear for foreign carriers. In Europe, for example, the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) does not have any specific regulations regarding facial hair. This means that it is up to each airline to decide whether or not they allow their pilots to have beards.

In the Middle East, things are a bit more complicated. Some airlines in the region do not allow any type of facial hair, while others only allow beards that are trimmed and well-groomed.

Will Airlines Ever Allow Beards?

Only time will tell. In the last few years, even light facial hair has become much more mainstream and popular, even among professional athletes and airline pilots. This means that the opinion of airlines regarding beards may slowly start to change. However, it is important to remember that safety is always the number one priority for airlines, and they may never allow beards on their planes due to the risk surrounding sensors and oxygen masks. Only time will tell what the future of beards in the airline industry holds for those that fly.

Can Air Force Pilots Have Beards?

Which airlines allow beards? A picture of an Air Force pilot without a beard.

Specifically, airmen are allowed to have beards if they have a medical condition that prevents them from shaving, such as psoriasis or severe acne. They are also allowed to have beards if they are participating in a religious observance that requires facial hair.

Other than these two exceptions, however, airmen are not allowed to have beards. This policy is in place due to the same concerns about facial hair and sensors that affect airline pilots. Beards can cause turbulent airflows around an airplane, which can negatively affect the readings these sensors take. This could lead to disastrous consequences.

The policy regarding beards in the Air Force is stricter than in the airline industry because the Air Force has a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of risk. This means that even if the concerns about facial hair and sensors are not completely founded, the Air Force will not take any chances since safety is their primary concern.

So, while airmen are not allowed to have beards, they are allowed to have mustaches. This is because mustaches do not cause the same turbulent airflow around an airplane that beards do.

Facial Hair Alternatives for Pilots

If you’re a bearded commercial pilot who is looking for a way to express your individuality, there are other options besides growing a beard. Many airlines allow pilots to have mustaches, and some even allow pilots to have goatees.

There are also many different hairstyles that a commercial pilot can choose from. While some airlines have regulations about how long a pilot’s hair can be, as long as it is well-groomed and out of the way, there is usually some flexibility.

Pilots can also express their individuality through their clothing. Many airlines have uniform requirements and grooming standards, but items such as ties and belts can often be customized.

What do Commercial Pilots Think About Company Policy on Having a Beard?

Pilots have differing opinions on policies regarding beards. Some believe that the policy is unfair and that it should be changed, while others believe that the policy is necessary for safety reasons.

Those who believe that the policy should be changed argue that facial hair does not affect a pilot’s ability to do his or her job. They also argue that the policy is discriminatory against those who have religious or medical reasons for not being able to shave.

Those who believe that the policy is necessary argue that facial hair can affect a pilot’s ability to do his or her job. They say that facial hair can interfere with the proper functioning of oxygen masks and other safety equipment. They also believe that beards can cause turbulent airflow around an airplane, which can lead to inaccurate sensor readings.

For example, one pilot we spoke to said the following about having a beard while flying an aircraft:

“There’s no real evidence that beards cause any type of problem, but until somebody can come up with a study that proves that they don’t, the airlines are going to be weary about them. I think it would be great if the airlines allowed beards, but I also understand why they don’t. It’s a safety issue.”

Another pilot had this to say:

“As a pilot, I want to be able to do my job safely and efficiently. If having a beard interferes with my ability to do that, then I’m not going to have one. I think the policy on beards is fair.”

So, while there are differing opinions on the topic, the majority of pilots seem to agree that facial hair can interfere with a pilot’s ability to do his or her job safely. Certainly, more research needs to be done on the safety thing. It’s also important to remember that not all beards are the same. Long and thick beards are not the same as short beards and there is a difference in using supplemental oxygen masks with different beard lengths during a change in cabin pressure altitudes.

What About Beards for the Flight Crew?

flight crew on an airline

While a pilot’s face might need to be clean-shaven, the same is not necessarily true for the rest of the general aviation crew.

For example, many airlines do not have any rules on mustaches for flight attendants. In fact, some airlines encourage their flight attendants to grow mustaches to look more professional.

Some airlines allow male flight attendants to have beards, as long as they are well-groomed and not too long. For female flight attendants, however, the rules are generally more strict. Most airlines do not allow female flight attendants to have any kind of facial hair other than neatly trimmed eyebrows.

So, while it is true that most commercial pilots are not allowed to have beards, there is some flexibility when it comes to the rest of the flight crew. Be sure to check with your airline’s specific policies and rules to find out what is and is not allowed.

Wrap Up

Aviation regulations vary from country to country, so it’s a good idea for pilots to check with their respective regulatory authorities before deciding whether or not they should grow or maintain their beards. However, some general rules of thumb can help you decide if your national aviation authority is likely to allow beard growth:

  • If the airline’s headquarters is in the United States and its passengers come mainly from Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait; then yes, US airlines generally do permit crew members who have grown facial hair (with restrictions).
  • In contrast, if an airline has headquarters in Greece or Japan and its flights usually go to Europe or Asia respectively without stopping at any airports where Islam predominates on the ground, then it is very likely that the airline will not permit crew members to have beards.
  • Some airlines do not allow any beards, regardless of the location of the airline’s headquarters or the predominant religion in the areas where its flights originate or terminate.

So, do pilots have to shave before going to work? The answer is a little complicated. In general, most airlines allow bearded pilots as long as their beards are trimmed and neat. However, there are a few exceptions. Some airlines, such as Delta and United, have specific policies that prohibit any facial hair on pilots. And as we mentioned earlier, some airlines that have their headquarters in Muslim-majority countries allow crew members to have beards with restrictions.

FAQ – Which Airlines Allow Beards?

Does Air Canada allow beards?

Yes, Air Canada does allow beards for their pilots as long as the beards are shorter than 1.25 centimeters.

Do airlines have strict regulations about beards for passengers?

There are no beard regulations for passengers on any airlines.

Can pilots have mustaches?

Some airlines do have mustache regulations. For example, Southwest Airlines does not allow their pilots to have mustaches that extend below the lip line or that cover more than 50% of the upper lip.

Why do some airlines have regulations about facial hair?

One reason is that facial hair can interfere with a pilot’s oxygen mask seal and now allow adequate oxygen (low oxygen levels at cruising altitudes) for a bearded pilot. Another reason is that some people believe that beards can affect a pilot’s hearing.

Do all airline pilots have to be clean-shaven?

No, not all airline pilots have to be clean-shaven. Some airlines, like Air Canada, allow their pilots to have beards as long as they are shorter than 1.25 centimeters. If you want a stubble beard, here’s everything to know about trimming your stubble.

Do you think that pilots should be allowed to have beards?

Some people believe that pilots should not be allowed to have any facial hair because it can interfere with the oxygen mask seal or affect the pilot’s hearing. Others believe that as long as the beard is shorter than 1.25 centimeters, it should not be a problem.