Airline Tells Flight Attendants: Lose 5 Pounds a Month of Get Referred for Medical Treatment

Paddle Your Own Kanoo reported on an internal memo from Pakistan International Airlines to its flight attendants about required weight loss.

  • The airline has maximum weight standards for flight attendants
  • They have been waiving those standards for flight attendants who are up to 30 pounds over
  • They will no longer allow these waivers for flight attendants working international flights with layovers, and they are requiring regular weigh-ins

There’s a weight loss requirement for those that are 30 pounds over the company’s rules which demands flight attendants lose 5 pounds per month with the waiver shrinking 5 pounds each month until starting in July no ‘excess weight’ will be permitted. Instead, overweight flight attendants will be grounded and referred for medical treatment.

This isn’t an entirely unknown practice worldwide. Two years ago Aeroflot flight attendants wrote to Vladimir Putin for help claiming they were being sidelined because they were ‘old, fat, and ugly.’

VietJet highlights women in bikinis, and Malindo Air has required prospective flight attendants to remove their tops in interviews. India’s SpiceJet strip searches flight attendants.

Singapore Airlines grooming standards are intense. There are 5 approved hairstyles, but each woman is told which ones she is allowed to use. There are specific colors for their makeup, and they may be given only one or — if they’re ‘more advanced’ or experienced in making themselves up — two they are allowed to use personally. Flight attendants buy their own makeup, but it must match the allowable colors.

After the first day of training some women will spend up to 4 hours getting ready for class, to ensure they look perfect. The standards are new to them and they’re obviously trying to impress during training. I’m told that on average a woman may take an hour doing her hair and makeup for a flight

US airlines used to use sex to sell tickets. Southwest Airlines launched at Dallas’ Love Field listing its stock under the ticker symbol LUV. Their original ticketing machines were called Quickies. Flight attendants wore hot pants. Southwest’s practice of hiring only attractive women as flight attendants was successfully challenged in court. This is no longer permitted in the U.S.

The thing is though that PIA is arguably the worst airline in the world and flight attendant weight seems the exact opposite of where the carrier should be focusing on reforms.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. How about charging passengers per pound? Most of us could use some incentive to loose weight, lol. I have been trying to get my BMI lower for a health insurance reduction.

  2. Arguably this policy and other express or implied grooming and personal appearance policies, which all companies have, is not about sex. Since the directive applies to men and women, the policy does not appear to discriminate on the basis of sex on its face. Thinner flight attendants benefit the airline by saving weight (money) and creating a healthier workforce (money). If saving money is the business-related rationale, the weight restrictions should apply to all flight crew. From several standpoints this will be a hard policy to enforce, and an airline adopting this policy should provide wellness programs and other services at company expense.

  3. A bit off topix, but I appreciate that foreign carriers’ flight attendants are professionally dressed at least. I don’t think there should be a weight standard but the US3 could at least require the flight attendants to dress like they aren’t heading to a freshman seminar in college. Just had a transatlantic AA flight and the younger FAs seemed to take pride in their appearance; the older ones looked like they were hanging out in the study lounge hungover on a Sunday morning. Just because one is older or out of shape doesn’t mean they shouldn’t dress professionally.

  4. Being required to lose a uniform (and arbitrary) 5lb each month is unrealistic. Every body is different and will lose differing amounts each month. For example, many American tubbies could lose 5lb by skipping one meal ! (Just joking, I think…)

  5. It does cost airlines more to fly heavier people. If an airline was run using strict mathematical principles (ignoring people’s feelings on the subject), they would weigh each passenger including their luggage before each flight. A ticket would likely be bracketed “200lbs including your luggage for fare X” “250lbs including your luggage for fare Y” etc…

    Having heavier flight attendants does cost the airline more in operational costs. It’s just the facts of flying, extra weight = extra costs. We humans however get very upset when anyone tells us we are overweight, even if it truly is due to trying to reduce or maintain a cost structure. This is a tough position to be in.

  6. 5 pounds a month is very reasonable and they seem to be providing the medical assistance to make it possible. Cracking down on fatness before it becomes too serious is critical and this seems rather appropriate.

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