Airlines’ turbulent relations with flight crew

Aeroflot said in April it is reasonable for female flight attendants to face financial penalties if they are deemed to be overweight. (Aeroflot)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Airlines’ turbulent relations with flight crew

Aeroflot came under fire for weight discrimination in April this year when airline representatives at a press conference said that it was reasonable for female flight attendants to face financial penalties if they were overweight. This was after two flight attendants took the airline to court, part of a group of women who jokingly named themselves STS — an abbreviation of “old, fat and ugly” in Russian. They said Aeroflot moved them from prestigious long-haul flights to lower-paid domestic routes because of their physical appearance, The Guardian reported. Evgenia Magurina, one of the complainants, claimed that Aeroflot flight attendants were photographed, measured and in some cases weighed. Women who did not meet the requirements were withdrawn from international routes.

Malaysia Airlines was accused in September this year of sacking cabin crew for being overweight. The Far Eastern carrier was accused of ageism and body-shape discrimination after it was revealed that five of its employees — all over the age of 50 — had their contracts terminated. The flight attendants — three men and two women — have worked for the airline for more than 20 years, but were told their services were no longer required, according to the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM). “This is a classic case of discrimination which needs to be stopped,” NUFAM president Ismail Nasaruddin told Kuala Lumpur newspaper The New Straits Times.

Air India was criticized in 2015 for firing 130 cabin crew for being overweight, claiming it was sacking them over “safety concerns.” In 2006, Air India also grounded nine female flight attendants deemed to be “exceptionally overweight.” The airline said that “being grossly overweight does have a bearing on reflexes and can impair agility required to perform the emergency functions.” The attendants sued, but a Delhi court backed up the carrier in 2008. The women appealed, only for the airline to fire them in 2009 as the country’s Supreme Court was still considering the case, The Washington Post ­reported.

In 2009, the union representing flight attendants working for Delta Air Lines in America cried foul over Delta’s failure to offer bigger sizes for its signature red dress uniform. The red dress was only available up to size 18, though a Delta spokeswoman said that the airline had a range of outfits in other colors and styles up to size 28 that flight attendants could wear, according to the Associated Press. A union representative said: “I think red is an eye-popping color and it’s not subtle, and to me by not offering it in a size over 18, Delta is saying, ‘We don’t want you wearing that if you are over size 18’ ... But the job isn’t about being sexy. It’s about safety.”


British Airways says Heathrow flights hit by computer problems

Updated 19 July 2018
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British Airways says Heathrow flights hit by computer problems

LONDON: British Airways canceled and delayed flights at London’s Heathrow, Europe’s biggest airport, on Wednesday due to problems with a supplier’s IT systems, the airline said.
A number of British Airways flights were canceled or being delayed by several hours at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, according to the airport’s departure board.
“We are working with our supplier to resolve the matter and are sorry for the disruption to our customers’ travel plans,” British Airways said in a statement.
The carrier suffered a massive computer system failure in May 2017, caused by a power supply issue near Heathrow, which stranded 75,000 customers over a busy holiday weekend.
Its chief executive said at the time it would take steps to ensure such an incident never happened again.
Passengers at the airport on Wednesday described chaotic scenes as people tried to catch flights and complained there was a lack of information from the airline.
“Utter chaos at LHR, no communication, no emergency processes and no clue,” one passenger Dominic Hill said on Twitter.
A number of flights at the airport were earlier disrupted after a control tower was evacuated because of a fire alarm.