Revisiting Facial Hair

Is there any movement in the union’s, or anywhere for that matter, to advocate for allowing neatly trimmed facial hair for airline pilots in the wake of the studies showing no decreased efficacy of SCBA or other face mask seals on pilots with facial hair?

From what I can find, the FAA has deferred to OSHA’s best guidance for respirators/masks. However, OSHA has not presented a clear statement that these standards MUST be enforced and only recommends the clean shave for hazardous (firefighting, bio/chemical hazards, etc) occupations and no specific “Do/Do Not” regulations regarding aviation.

All this together seems like reasonable grounds with which to make the argument to allow professional appearing neat facial hair for pilots.

Before any negative nancy (you know who you are) hops on here with “you must look professional” as a justification, I’d like to point out the standards of what professionalism looks like are always changing… looking at you 1980s shoulder pads, 1990s big hair, pilot marlboro commercials. Add to that some (most) men look more professional in whatever their natural appearance is because they are more confident in their appearance; which, in turn, can leave passengers feeling more confident in the pilot. No one wants to fly with someone who is percieved as unprofessional because of razor bumps, acne, recessed jaw or other natural features that are often covered or improved by the presence of a well-cut beard.

Also, no scientific proof at all has shown covid or other viruses are more likely to spread because of facial hair. Just remember the biological significance of hair is to protect the body! The beard quite literally creates a small filter around your mouth, which when you’re breathing recycled air on a plane full of people from all over with different biological ecosystems a natural filter permanently adorned to your face seems like a no-brainer to me.

OSHA does not have any jurisdiction over air crews. I am not sure where you are getting your information on masks and regulators from, but if we followed OSHA guidance we would all have our own masks and regulators, not use the common ones on the airplane. I have heard of no pending changes to the FAA facial hair rule.

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The FAA guidance on safety is predicated on the recommendations from OSHA. OSHA doesnt regulate, but does advise best practices which is the framework I’m speaking about. While the FAA is independent from OSHA, ALL workers and employers in the United States are subject to OSHA. As such if OSHA provides general guidelines on proper use of masks for general industries the FAA, and, more to the point, the airlines will use the recommendation to cover their butts legally. But the guidance isn’t industry specific and the only industry specific guidance provided in the last 25 years that is relevant has shown this isn’t the case in the modern aviation industry.


You are incorrect. The Act excludes the self-employed, family farms, workplaces covered by other federal laws (such as mining, nuclear weapons manufacture, railroads and airlines) and state and local governments (unless state law permits otherwise).

Sec 4 (b)(1) “Nothing in this Act shall apply to working conditions of employees with respect to which other Federal agencies, and State agencies acting under section 274 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2021), exercise statutory authority to prescribe or enforce standards or regulations affecting occupational safety or health.”

OSHA might make recommendations to the FAA, but FAA is under absolutely no requirement to follow them. As an aside, the NTSB makes yearly recommendations to the FAA, which the FAA routinely ignores.



Thanks for the correction. But at the end you restated my argument for me. The FAA may not give 2 thoughts to thier recommendations (which i doubt) but corporations like the airlines who are responsible to shareholders and the public. They will more than likely follow or adapt to the recommemdations. All of that though is great but the meat of my question was is there any advocacy in the community of active airline pilots?

If not, I propose a petition to show there is interest and it is worth pursuing. The petition is attached in the original post. I hope it gains traction and maybe, as a community, we can have the options of whether to have facial hair or not.


The FAA controls what the airlines do, not the airlines themselves. The FAA has banned beards and only they can change that. The airlines cannot disregard the FAA’s regulations on the matter and it really is not in the airline’s interests to spend their time and money advocating for beards when there are actual important issues that matter to the airlines.

Your petition has been removed. This is a place to ask questions of airline pilots, not to advocate for certain causes.


Well I appreciate the input. The FAA regulation is based on outdated information. Can we agree on that?

And sure its not as important as maintenance issues which are common. Upgrading outdated fleets or taking care of an overwhelmed and understaffed industry. But it is still important advocate when and where we can. The reason i had stopped posting or reading from this forum previously was for this kind of reason. I understand as an outsider and newcomer to this particular industry it may seem like I/we (newbies) are acting “entitled” to push for these issues or ask the questions that yall recieve repeatedly. However, whats the point in being a mentor if the responses your giving are designed to flex your knowledge and experience over others to shut them down. And Chris im not speaking about only you, this is a common trend on this forum.

Edit: please share that knowledge thats why we’re here, but theres no need to come off condescendingly. Mentors answer, guide, or challenge people to think critically. Mentors dont blatantly shut people down or facilitate the argument “this is how its always been” “i do this so you must do this and otherwise its wrong or unimportant”.

The only reason i returned to this forum was in the hopes of engaging the large audience here who are either already in the airlines or looking to join the airlines to get a conversation going and find out if anyone out there is ALREADY in the process of carrying this concern.

But hey if you never ask you never know. If you don’t try you’ll never succeed. Thank you for time.


Negative Nancy here! I’m going to bypass the above debate and answer your original question, “Is there any movement in the union’s, or anywhere for that matter, to advocate for allowing neatly trimmed facial hair for airline pilots in the wake of the studies showing no decreased efficacy of SCBA or other face mask seals on pilots with facial hair?”. The answer is no there isn’t. Want to know why? Because in the grand scheme of things this is not a thing. (Here’s a fun fact. My airline, Hawaiian, does allow neatly trimmed beards, but I’d say less than 10% of our pilots have them and for many they come and go).

As a 20yr union member, former union rep and officer I can tell you the subject the subject just doesn’t come up. The reason the FAA hasn’t changed their position is because no one is asking them to. As for petitions (yours or otherwise), petitions are funny things. Again as a union rep I’ll give you a little insight as to how they work. First year pay is a great example. Unlike all other payrates in our industry first year pay is not negotiated, it’s considered the airlines responsibility and a recruitment tool. First year pay (until the pilot shortage) has been notoriously low for decades but every time contract negotiations open and the pilots are polled their asked 2 questions: 1) should first year pay for newhires be increased? 2) what/how much are you willing to give up to raise it? And EVERY year 100% of the pilots answer 1) with absolutely yes but then answer 2) with absolutely nothing. My point is if you ask pilots if they should be able to wear beards of course they’ll all say yes just because it’s nice to have the ability so why not, but if that perk has a price (and EVERYTHING in negotiations comes with a price OR a priority) they’ll quickly say it isn’t that important.

Long/short while this is clearly important to you, it’s not to most. How do I know? Because you’re one of the few that’s barking about. Further, while I may be an old crusty Negative Nancy, I take strong exception to your statement that “razor bumps, acne, recessed jaw or other natural features” look “unprofessional”. If that’s something you suffer with and it affects your self-esteem I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t paint the world with that brush. I actually do agree with your statement people look professional when they’re confident but that confidence needs to come from within and not from one’s appearance. If it’s not there, there are better resources to help than the FAA.

Peace out!


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My responses are in no way designed to flex any knowledge or experience. But we do not sell sunshine here, we simply answer questions truthfully. You posted incorrect statements about OSHA and I corrected you. I also explained why the airlines do not care strongly about this issue. You seem to not like my answers, but I can assure you that they are accurate.

I would point out that your involvement in this forum is voluntary. If you do not like the answers you receive here, you are free to seek counsel elsewhere.