Can Pilots Have Tattoos?

By Pilot Institute
Posted on November 7, 2022 - 4 minute read

Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular, with almost one-fourth of American adults having at least one. While tattoos used to be taboo, they are now widely accepted in most workplaces. But can pilots have tattoos? The answer is yes – but there are a few conditions.

Are Tattoos Allowed as a Pilot?

Generally, airlines do not permit pilots or crew to have any tattoos that are visible while they are wearing their uniforms.

Pilot tattoos are a polarizing topic. Some people believe they should be more widely allowed in aviation, while others think they should be banned altogether.

The fact is that tattoos are becoming more and more popular, and many companies – including some airlines – have started to accept visible tattoos. However, there are still some restrictions in place. Let’s take a closer look at the rules around pilot tattoos.

Common Airline Tattoo Policy

Most airlines have a similar policy when it comes to tattoos. They allow pilot tattoos as long as they are not visible while on duty and do not contain any offensive content. This means that any tattoos on the hands, neck, or face must be covered up while on duty.

If you want to fly for an airline and want to get a tattoo, it’s best to check their specific policy before getting inked.

Any tattoos or modifications that could be perceived as offensive or promoting sexual, racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination are not tolerated.

Why Do Airlines Not Allow Pilot Tattoos?

There are a few reasons why airlines do not allow visible tattoos. The first is the appearance of professionalism. Airlines want passengers to feel safe on board an aircraft. A large part of how passengers interpret the flight comes down to the appearance and demeanor of the crew. Visible tattoos are viewed as unprofessional by many airlines.

The airlines also don’t want any offensive or obscene images in the cabin. Finally, they don’t want their employees to set themselves apart from the rest of the crew.

Unity among flight crew is an integral part of projecting a professional and competent image.

What About Small Tattoos?

Even if your tattoo is small and partially covered by your uniform, it may impact your chances of getting hired. Additionally, many airlines have strict policies against any visible tattoos, regardless of size.

In some cases, you may be able to get around this policy by wearing a long-sleeved shirt or jacket that covers the tattoo completely. But if you want to play it safe, it’s best to avoid small tattoos altogether.

What to Do If You Want to Become a Pilot but Have a Tattoo

You have a few options if you want to become a pilot but have a visible tattoo.

Cover Up Your Tattoo

You can cover up your tattoo with makeup or clothing. This is the most common solution for pilots who have tattoos. If you choose to go this route, make sure that your tattoo is completely covered and can’t be seen while in uniform.

Get Laser Treatment

You can also get laser treatment to remove your tattoo. This is a more expensive and painful option and may not be completely effective (depending on the tattoo), but it will allow you to meet the requirements of most airlines.

Look for an Airline with a More Relaxed Tattoo Policy

Some airlines are starting to relax their policies on tattoos. For example, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines allow small visible tattoos as long as they are not offensive.

If you want to become a pilot, consider applying to one of these airlines.

Avoid the Airlines

Another option is to look into joining a different type of aviation company. There are plenty of great opportunities in general aviation and corporate aviation, where companies are far more relaxed about tattoos.

Choose Another Career

If you’re not willing to cover up your visible tattoos or get them removed, you may have to look into other career options.

There are a few airlines and aviation companies that are more accepting of visible tattoos, but they are the exception, not the norm.

The Future of Pilots and Tattoos

The rules around pilot tattoos will likely continue to evolve in the coming years. As more and more people get tattoos, employers will become more accepting of them.

Previous generations often had negative associations with people who had tattoos, but most younger generations don’t have the same associations. With an increase in the number of people who get a tattoo every year, the future generation is more likely to have tattoos, and airlines will probably relax their policies eventually.

However, there will likely always be some restrictions in place to prevent certain types of tattoos from offending passengers and other crew members.


If you want to become a pilot, it’s best not to get any visible tattoos. Airlines have a policy against allowing pilots with visible tattoos while in uniform.

If you don’t have any tattoos yet, think carefully before getting one – it could affect your ability to get hired as a pilot in the future.

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