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Flight Attendants Grounded For Being Too Fat

Flight Attendants Grounded For Being Too Fat

There has been a lot of flight attendant drama in the news this week, some of it more prominent than others.  Last Saturday, Turkish Airlines announced that 28 flight attendants, both men and women, had been grounded and suspended on unpaid leave until they lose weight.

This has been mostly eclipsed by the ongoing saga of Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who cursed out a passenger on the intercom and escaped onto the tarmac via the emergency slide, is available across the internet and does not need to be rehashed here.  But the Turkish Airlines flight attendants have larger grievances than a rude passenger.  If they neglect to lose the weight, they will find themselves without jobs.

“Weight and height are important factors at all airlines,” the airline said in a statement published by Turkish newspaper Haber Turk daily.  “These criteria are important both in terms of appearance and the ability to move about.”

So, certainly it’s important for flight attendants to be able to move around the aisles and perform their duties.  But the U.S. solved this problem in the early ’90s by implementing a “performance test” that enabled flight attendants to prove that they could do their jobs without being subjected to weekly weigh-ins.  Because there has been a not insignificant history of airlines requiring certain standards of beauty from their flight attendants – and firing them when they don’t comply.

Turkish Airlines are being more subtle about this than others have been in the past; in early 2009, Air India fired ten flight attendants for being overweight, and stated very openly that a large part of the decision had to do with their physical appearance, rather than their ability to do their job.  They got a lot of flak for that, however, and it seems that airlines have learned to emphasize competence, rather than attractiveness, when justifying demands like this.  That does not, however, make the demands any more reasonable or acceptable.

I hope that we’ve come further than the early days of commercial airlines, when the flight attendants were part of the glamour of flying – they needed to be svelte and beautiful and, most importantly, available (for years, flight attendants were fired as soon as they got married).  For the airlines, employees were commodities, rather than people performing tasks in a specific service industry.  It’s absurd to think, today, that we need anything more than people who can do their jobs – let’s hope that Turkish Airlines get clued in.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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83 comments

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6:32PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Hey yall!

I am in total agreement! I can not believe the fatso flight attendants I am seeing today! I can not believe they are hiring them? I just saw an ad online, with two blonde females claiming to be flight attendants that look like cows! When I was a flight attendant at the age of 23 years old, I was weighed, measured and sight checked by my airline prior to each flight! We also were grounded if we went over our weight requirements! And I agree with the ladies above. You are representing your Company, and in the public's eye. So forget it fatsos, if you are not a size 9 or less, your ass should be grounded or fired! And another thing! I have been suffering for the past few years, with some dumb blonde who has tried to pan herself off as me for airline employment! And gain access to my employment files and past work experience! She even went as far as trying to live at my past apt. locations! So I am outing her right now! 1. She is too fat to be a flight attendant in the first place! 2. I was a brunette at 23yrs of age when I worked as a flight attendant! And hello you are blonde? (dumb?) 3. The next time you want to be someone your not, look in the mirror I am sure you will be able to find something nice about yourself, instead of trying to be someone you are not! Enough said sweety get your own identity and life! The water is already under the bridge, if you know what I mean! I have already been there and done that! And there is nothing you can do about it! I am stil

8:41PM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

This has nothing to do with how pretty you are. Flight attendants need to be small, they sit in special seats & areas made for certain sizes. Furthermore, they probably want you to look really good in uniforms, & so what? That's part of the job description, just like a model. If you want to be a reporter, you have to be willing to push people aside & get the story/photo. Every job has requirements.

4:22PM PDT on Aug 27, 2010

Due to the deregulations of airlines and the lawsuits brought against them from flight attendants,about height weight,race,gender and age--the airline 'atomosphere' has changed-drastically!!! Flight attendants are required to pass the annual,rigorous recertification courses,which include testing for emergencies, and basic food handling and service!!! If this grounding has happened in the U.S., by an U.S. owned,airline, these flight attendants would be OWNING this airline!!! Flight attendants are required to comply by the basic hygiene and uniform stands,per each airline, and the weight of an indvidual is tested by assuming the jumpseat for recertification!!!
So unless your inflight sandwich has a BIG BITE in it,once it is served to you,I wouldn't worry about how my flight attendant look-like! And if you want an Angela Jolie-look-a-like, I have only two words for you--GULF STREAM--for private planes, YOU PAY THE COST-TO BE THE BOSS!!!

6:14PM PDT on Aug 25, 2010

With people getting fatter and fatter, there are going to be more problems like this. Excess weight is unhealthy and is not good on an airline. Obese airline attendants whether male or female are adding unnecessary baggage.

I'm so tired of fat, obese people getting offended at people telling them the truth - they need to lose weight! It's OK to tell a smoker they're killing themselves by smoking, it should also be OK to tell fat people they're killing themselves by eating too much!

4:56PM PDT on Aug 18, 2010

Monica -- wow! So glad they are there to take care of me when I ffly.

7:01AM PDT on Aug 18, 2010

By "fat" I understood something else. Let them keep their jobs until they are useless... I guess...

9:09PM PDT on Aug 17, 2010

I am overweight so can see the sensitivity of the subject matter when it comes to weight descrimination. However, I can also see the airlines point in that flight attendants need to be able to move around easily in tight spaces. If they are just talking about a few pounds as opposed to losing 50 pounds, then that is completely ridiculous.

6:04PM PDT on Aug 16, 2010

I'm wondering if they are older, more seniority on the job. Maybe what's too fat is their paychecks. New employees don't make as much.

12:52PM PDT on Aug 16, 2010

As a larger woman, I am SO, SO tired of people judging me by my body size rather than the size of my personality, intellect and capabilities!

11:46AM PDT on Aug 16, 2010

When my family and I are flying we could care less about what the FAs look like. We want professionals who will assist us and possibly save our butts in case of emergency. If the flying public would only treat them like professionals and heed the rules, we would all be better off. Measure your darn carry-ons before you even pack them! Every airline has the size limits on their web sites or you can pick up the phone and ask. I travel with a perfectly trained service dog and have always had the help I needed to get seated and settle my dog on the floor in front of me. FAs, skinny or plump, are the best and are even better if we are kind and cooperative. Professionalism is the key.

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