Flight Attendant Fired For Being 1.5 Pounds Overweight

Malaysia Airlines flight attendant Ina Meliesa Hassim filed a case against her employer after being fired for weighing in 1.5 pounds over the airline’s standard for her height. She lost the case.

The court chairman concluded “on the balance of probabilities” (the relevant standard) that there was just cause for the termination.

It was reported that Ina Meliesa was dismissed for repeatedly failing to meet the airline’s weight requirement under a weight management programme for 18 months, which Malaysia Airlines said was part of its effort “to maintain its image as a premium airline”.

As Ina Meliesa’s height was 160cm, the maximum permissible weight under the company’s guidelines was 61kg. Her weight was 61.7kg at the last official weigh-in on April 10, 2017.

While other airlines have different policies, and there’s no safety issue, Malaysia Airlines was within its rights under the laws of that country.

India’s SpiceJet has strip searched flight attendants to make sure they’re not stealing cash from buy on board sales and the women they strip search are all single and under 28 when hired. Pakistan International Airlines grounds flight attendants and refers them for medical treatment when they deem the cabin crew overweight.

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.

Malaysia’a Malindo Air required flight attendants to disrobe as part of their interview process. So while cultural standards are different in different parts of the world, the treatment of women in the workforce and in aviation in particular is… especially so.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. 5’2” and 135lbs is a pretty generous allowance. I assume their contract with their clothing bender doesn’t make bigger clothes.

  2. Ah, if only they would charge passengers by their weight, so families with small children wouldn’t be further penalized. Families are already penalized because the young family can’t buy their 2 year old toddler a Basic Economy ticket for the middle seat, as compared to an adult ending up in the same middle seat. Well, the family could buy them a BE fare and try to get a seat together, but then many would try to shame the family. The shamers think it is fair that a family with a small child is required to pay more, and are quite fine paying less themselves and have the toddler subsidize their ticket.

    Right, “those are the rules, follow them or don’t fly” I read from posters, as they continue to support the requirement that families pay more for the privilege of a middle seat for their toddler.
    Right, those are the rules, so I tell me adult kids with my grandchildren to bring a car seat on board with them, which then requires an accompanying adult sit next to them. So you “be damned and follow the unfair rules” people. I hope you get stuck on the other side with a big plastic car seat digging into your ribs. Serves you right.

  3. Why is this even a post? The lady got fired for not adhering to the requirements of her job. I think it’s good that the employer followed through amd fired someone for not doing what they agreed to as part of their employment. I wish the American carriers would fire more flight attendants for not doing their respective jobs.

  4. Yes, it highlights the disgusting practices that are still allowed worldwide. Like perverted old men flying around the world to pay for sex with children in so many countries. I recently watched a program on “pleasure marriages” which is the Muslim version of prostitution of children and women, most of whom are destitute from war and it is sickening. Many Asian countries have long been sex trade tourism destinations, this just shows how prevalent it still is and Americans who subsidize it and encourage the behavior are part of the problem.
    It is funny that men still treat women as property to be bartered and sold, yet cannot imagine being treated the same way.
    @CommonSense, if your kids are too cheap to buy your grandchildren a seat they should consider not flying. They’re already given tax breaks and credits for having children. They aren’t being penalized, just not being given special privileges.This sense of entitlement all because you have kids is ridiculous. My husband has rods in his back and I have health issues that can make sitting in certain seats very painful but they don’t let me bump up to biz class just because of it, if I don’t want to suffer, I pay for it. Grow up. I read the article on Flyer Talk too and they’re being ridiculous, you know before you book what the rules are, follow them.

  5. It’s supply and demand. In the US, often you have to hire lousy workers because that’s the only ones you can get. However, if the economy goes bad, the lousy ones are the ones to be laid off.

    I was once in a job that there was a lot of competition so the boss was nasty, like Klobuchar, Trump, and Warren are as bosses.

  6. ::shrug:: Sounds like the person had 18 months to meet a reasonable weight standard. If the requirements are known at the time of accepting the job then there is no use crying about it. Its not like they were demanding she be an unhealthy weight and she took the job knowing the requirements.

  7. @Lisa Rasmussen NEWS LISA RASMUSSEN GETS FIRED BECAUSE SHE IS FAT OLD AND UGLY. ….. Give that to y our employer and see if they will do it and you WILL agree to it..

    This is NEWS because it is an Travel Blog NOT a Political Blog. The airline has such insane rules for their employees. (even if it is legal does not make it right — Slavery was legal and we all know how that turned out.)

  8. it’s remarkable how many legislation we’ve passed to coddle the feelings of old, ugly women. Gary Leffs of the world like to leer at fun-sized asian women. Repeal Wilson v. Southwest Airlines and let the people have what their hearts desire.

  9. US airlines used to have policies like this: During the 1960s and early 1970s, the standard practice among large commercial airlines was to hire only women as flight attendants.   The airlines required their flight attendants to remain unmarried, to refrain from having children, to meet weight and appearance criteria, and to retire by the age of 35.

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