Turkish Airlines Flight Attendants Must Lose Weight or Lose Their Jobs
August 9, 2010 at 4:19 PM
The arguments over overweight flight attendants play out a little differently than the near constant fights that travelers have about overweight passengers. Both are somewhat about safety, but that's roughly where the similarities end. With overweight rowmates, the day-to-day issues are about comfort. People invoke the "what if there's a one-in-a-million crash and I can't get out" argument to sound that much more legitimate (that and they make hay out of, umm, fitting into lavatories).
When airlines suspend overweight flight attendants, like Turkish Airlines just did to 28 of their employees, the safety issue certainly makes an appearance. It's probably even more legitimate than it is with passengers, since crews actually do play a critical role in flight safety even during non-emergencies. But the real issue is about looks, and about how much customers want their Diet Coke served by someone who looks svelte in a uniform, even if half of the suspended crew were men. And airlines aren't even shy about pointing that out.
When Air India went after their overweight flight attendants, they were brutally honest that the issue was primarily about physical appearance, with safety issues being a secondary afterthought. They went so far as to insist that being somewhat hot is a prerequisite to having a good personality, which is not exactly how we've been given to understand the stereotype.
Turkish Airlines is being a little bit more subtle, although only a little bit. Their argument is about the importance of "weight and height... both in terms of appearance and the ability to move about." Appearance first, ability to run around and get panicked passengers off a burning plane second. That doesn't necessarily make them wrong. It just makes them kind of creepy.
What do you think? How much of this issue is about safety, and how much is it Turkish Airways wanting their attendants to be slim and pretty?
· Airlines grounds overweight staff: paper [Reuters]
· Airlines [Jaunted]
· Airline News [Jaunted]