Air France Dress Code: Airline Revisits Controversial Headscarf Requirement For Iran Flights

Air France has revisited its controversial dress code on Paris-Tehran flights, which originally mandated that female pilots and flight attendants wear a head scarf after leaving the plane in Tehran.

As MSN reports, female Air France employees who disagree with the policy can instead opt out of the Paris-Tehran flight entirely.

Air France has recently resumed flights to Iran, after having closed off that market in 2008 due to international sanctions against Iran and its nuclear program. However, following last year's blockbuster nuclear deal, those sanctions have been lifted, and flights have resumed from Paris to Tehran.

Air France expects the route to be popular, as demand to visit the formerly off-limits country grows, and as Iran's economy improves following the lifting of the sanctions.

However, the resumption of flights to Tehran means that Air France will have to make some compromises regarding travel to the conservative Islamist nation. The airline announced that female employees would have to wear loose-fitting clothes such as pants (not jeans), or long skirts. Men are required to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

But most troubling for certain women in the Air France family is that women must wear head scarves as soon as they leave the plane in Tehran.

Air France dress code.
A Muslim woman wears a hijab, or head scarf. [Image via Shutterstock/Taraskin]

The French national air crew union, SNPNC, vehemently opposed the rules, calling them "an attack on freedom of conscience and individual freedoms, and [an] invasion of privacy," according to CNN.

Françoise Redolfi, another union leader, said, via The Guardian, that Iran is forcing its strict religious rules on Air France employees.

"They are forcing us to wear an ostentatious religious symbol. We have to let the girls choose what they want to wear. Those that don't want to must be able to say they don't want to work on those flights."
On Monday, Air France announced that the controversial dress code requirements have been altered. In a statement, human resources official Gilles Gateau said that female employees who don't want to abide by the dress code can opt out of having to work the Paris-Tehran flight.
"Any woman assigned to the Paris-Tehran flight who for reasons of personal choice would refuse to wear the headscarf upon leaving the plane will be reassigned to another destination, and thus will not be obliged to do this flight."
Air France isn't the only European airline with an opt-out clause allowing employees to avoid flying to undesirable locations. During the height of the Ebola crisis last year, European airline employees were allowed to opt out of flights to Conarky, Guinea. Similarly, following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, some European airline employees who were concerned about their safety could opt out of flights to Japan.

The requirement that female airline employees adhere to an Islamist nation's strict dress codes is not new. Germany's Lufthansa has flown to Tehran for years and reports that they have never had any female employees complain about having to adhere to a dress code.

Air France has long been flying to another Islamist nation with a strict dress code for women: Saudi Arabia. However, employees stay in a specific compound there, where they are not required to wear head scarves.

As of this writing, there are no direct flights from the United States to Iran -- as has been the case since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 soured relations between the two countries. However, according to a September, 2015, CNN report, talks have been underway to potentially resume such flights in the future.

Do you believe Air France was wrong to impose Iran's dress code on female employees flying to Tehran?

[Image via Shutterstock/EQRoy]