Qantas cabin crew will be able to ditch high heels for flats, grow their hair long and opt to wear makeup regardless of their gender for the first time in the airline’s century-long history.

The “style and grooming” overhaul comes in response to long-held frustrations by staff, modernising workplaces and evolving customer expectations, the airline said.

Qantas uniforms have not changed, but designated “male” and “female” uniform determinations have been scrapped and grooming requirements overhauled.

Female cabin crew previously expected to wear high heels on long-haul flights had been asking to wear more comfortable and practical flat shoes, a Qantas spokeswoman said.

Similarly, some male cabin crew expressed a desire to wear concealer and foundation.

“These changes will make wearing our uniform more comfortable and practical,” the spokeswoman said.

Included in the changes for all staff is the option to wear flat shoes with uniforms, as well as wearing long hair in a low ponytail or bun.

All employees can now wear the same jewellery, including watches and diamond earrings.

Employees will also have the choice of whether to wear makeup or not, although tattoos still need to be concealed.

Hosiery will be required to be worn with a dress or skirt.

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“The update doesn’t change our uniform but modernises the way employees wear it in line with employee feedback and evolving customer expectations,” the Qantas spokeswoman said.

The Australian Services Union previously wrote a letter to the Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, asking for makeup and high-heel requirements to be eased for women.

In a statement, Qantas said its uniform standards had always been reflective of the times.

“In the 80s, sideburns had to stop at mid ear, “gelled spikes” were out and we recommended navy blue as the best eyeliner colour,” the airline said.

“In the 70s, women had to wear skirts above the knee. Today, our employees can choose whether or not to wear makeup, flat shoes and boots are in, and strict rules on watch sizes are out.”

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