The following e-mail has been circulating broadly. I cannot directly vouch for its authenticity, though it came to me from someone inside the industry.
Considering that this is plausible regardless of the source, what does it say about labor relations, employee attitudes, and the changing nature of the profession at US airlines?
As for the specifics of the claims, do you buy that flight attendants are being asked to do more with fewer tools — considering fewer meals served and cashless cabins?
THE NEW “UNITED/UCO” UNIFORMS.
- Written by a United Flight Attendant/Anonymous
During her fitting appointment for the new uniform, a friend of mine, an attractive, sophisticated, slim woman in her sixties, asked to have her new uniform skirt long enough to cover her knees. She was told that, in an effort to prevent the flight attendants from looking dowdy, we were being outfitted in shorter, more form fitting uniforms. The majority of our flight attendants are over the age of 40, some are over 70, and many carry extra weight. Has United’s decision makers ever heard the expression, Mutton dressed as lamb? These uniforms are designed for women the age of our daughters, or granddaughters. Dressing matrons in clothing one would expect to find in a store such as Forever 21 will not make us look like those cute little girls who fly for the Asian carriers.
I would like to first address the skirt length. I am over 70 years old, active, and slim; still my inner thighs swag in a manner reminiscent of window drapery. I have seen some of my heavier coworkers seated on jumpseats while wearing short skirts, and if it weren’t for the extra weight, there would be a view of parts that should remain unseen. Perhaps United logos on crotches would be a nice additional marketing tool. After my uniform arrived, I placed the massive carton on the floor, and put on my skirt. I then bent over to retrieve the jacket from the carton, and the kitties, startled by the sight of my personal plumbing, scrambled under the couch, and remained there for hours, blinking in disbelief. My legs have always been shapely, and remain so, but I have been cursed with bulging ropey veins that cause lust in phlebolgist; unfortunately, they are also atop the fronts of my legs. Medical students take notes as they look at me, studying the major thoroughfares for blood in the human body. Since the new trousers resemble either dual sausage casings or pantaloons, the skirt is my only option, and the short length reveals the aforementioned flaw to disadvantage. It’ll give people a better view of my medically prescribed compression hosiery, though. Maybe the manufacturer’s name should be visible, and I can make money doing endorsements. Given our present wages, that could be a very good thing.
The dresses are short-sleeved, giving us older women more opportunity to reveal additional crepe yardage. Of course, as we wave goodbye, there will be that echoed farewell from the underarm flesh.
The uniforms are tight. I’ll admit that I did see one flight attendant who looked good in the aqua colored dress. She was tall, very slim, and had a nice little butt. She looked like probably 1% of our population. I saw another woman, probably 45 to 50 years of age, who was short, busty, and overweight. In one of the dresses, she looked like a navy blue loaf of bread. Even though I am not overweight, I am not the firm package I once was. The sight of myself in the dresses, reminded me of music one would hear in the chase scenes of old Western movies: Lumpity Lump, lumpity lump, lumpity lump, lump, lump. Pity the poor young woman who had her uniform fitting before her pre-menstrual bloat. Closing the zipper may be impossible during that time. And did anybody remember that everyone inflates a bit in flight? Those who remove clothing during rest breaks may end up like those hapless passengers who remove shoes during a flight, only to discover that they can no longer put them back on.
We will be required to wear a serving jacket when working in the premium cabins and an apron if working in economy. If one moves into another cabin to assist, a change of costume will be necessary. Economy workers volunteering to help in Business and First Class will be as rare as intelligence in United’s management.
Cintas, who has made our uniforms, also provides for McDonalds. Maybe they think that our job is the same, but they do not understand what flight attendants actually do. We know that our management does not. We stand on seats to reach into luggage bins, and those wearing the skirts may be giving new meaning to the term, “Friendly skies.” We get filthy, and I, either the galley attendant or assisting there as purser, usually look as if I’d been on the losing end of a food fight. By the time we land, the required serving jacket will look like a Jackson Pollock painting on feet. This does not seem like fabric that will hold up well to repeated cleanings. There are few or no pockets in the uniform pieces, and we need a place for pens, keys, and flashlights. With the thin fabric and tight fit, a lipstick in a pocket would look like an elongated tumor. Maybe we need tool belts. They could been equipped with flashing lights which read, chicken/beef, small computers, and a cattle prod. (I would also love weaponry with which to threaten the next designer of our uniforms!) Unlike Mickey Dee’s employees, we travel the world, and sometimes fly to very cold places. The new coat is short and lightweight, and those of us in skirts will suffer blasts of arctic air that may put frost on our knees and shrubbery. We aren’t always at home when we dress for work. Women who ordered the dresses say that they can’t zip them up in back. Will we soon have to share rooms in order to have assistance getting dressed? Maybe we will receive reprimands from hotel managers for knocking on doors of other guests, requesting zipper assistance.
I have flown for over 46 years and have sadly experienced the decline in the quality of flight attendants’ lives over the decades. We are given more to do with less, and unworkable procedures that are dreamed up by people who apparently have never flown. We soldier on, making things as good as we can, given the challenges hurled at us. We always “make it work,” which is probably not always in our best interest. We cannot make these new uniforms work! Management, while filling their pockets, has cheapened our airline. Now they’re trying to cheapen us, too! Welcome to Walmart Air!
What do you think?