Flight attendants

Stop harassing the flight attendants

 

We didn’t need the #MeToo movement to know that flight attendants are often subjected to verbal and physical sexual harassment on the job.

But let’s hope the #MeToo movement – and the recent survey of more than 3,500 flight attendants at 29 different airline by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA – puts a stop to it.

According to the study, more than two-thirds of flight attendants in the U.S. have experienced sexual harassment during their flying careers.

More than one-in-three flight attendants say they have experienced verbal sexual harassment from passengers, and nearly one-in-five have experienced physical sexual harassment from passengers in the last year alone.

What’s being done about it? Not enough.

While Alaska, United, and even Spirit have taken some step to address the issue, 68 percent of flight attendants say they saw no efforts by airlines to address workplace sexual harassment over the last year.

“While much of the coverage of the #MeToo movement has focused on high-profile cases in the entertainment industry and politics, this survey underscores why AFA has long been pushing to eradicate sexism and harassment within our own industry,” said Sara Nelson, AFA President. “The time when flight attendants were objectified in airline marketing and people joked about ‘coffee, tea, or me’ needs to be permanently grounded. #TimesUp for the industry to put an end to its sexist past.”

Here’s more detail from the survey results:

*35 percent of flight attendants experienced verbal sexual harassment from passengers in the last year. Of those, 68 percent faced it three or more times, and a third five or more times in the past year.

Flight attendants described the verbal sexual harassment as comments that are “nasty, unwanted, lewd, crude, inappropriate, uncomfortable, sexual, suggestive, and dirty.”

*18 percent of flight attendants experienced physical sexual harassment from passengers in the last year. More than 40% of those suffered physical abuse three or more times. This type of harassment included having their breasts, buttocks and crotch area “touched, felt, pulled, grabbed, groped, slapped, rubbed, and fondled” both on top of and under their uniforms. Other abuse included passengers cornering or lunging at them followed by unwanted hugs, kisses and humping.

*Only 7 percent of the flight attendants who experienced abuse have reported sexual harassment to their employer. More often, flight attendants said they respond to verbal and sexual harassment by avoiding the passenger, directly addressing the passenger about their behavior or using another method to try to diffuse or deflect the situation.

 

How a 747 design change proposal spurred the ’60-foot rule’

United Airlines’ final charter flight to say goodbye to the airline’s fleet of 747 airccraft, was quite a party and you can see my story and photos on the event on the Runway Girl Network.

But during all the hoopla, a representative of the flight attendant’s union mentioned to me that debate over a change in the 747 design back in the mid-1980s spurred an important safety rule – the FAA’s 60-foot rule – that applies to just about all airplanes today.

The short version of the story is that in 1984 Boeing proposed taking out a set of exit doors on the 747 jumbo jet to make more room for seats. Flight attendants and pilots – and their unions – raised concerns over the ability to get everyone off the plane in an emergency without those doors and pushed back.

The Federal Aviation Administration ruled on the side of safety.

Read my full story on how this came about in my Runway Girl Network story here.

Photo courtesy Boeing Company

At SFO Museum: Fashion in Flight

Braniff International Airways hostess uniform by Emilio Pucci  1966 Boots by Beth Levine SFO Museum -

Braniff International Airways hostess uniform by Emilio Pucci 1966
Boots by Beth Levine
SFO Museum –

Eighty-five years of airline fashion are now on view at San Francisco International Airport, courtesy of the SFO Museum.

Fashion In Flight: A History of Airline Uniform Design includes over 70 complete ensembles and accessories from the likes of Dior, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Oleg Cassini, Vivienne Westwood and others and offers insight into the design history and evolution of the airline uniform, its iconic status in popular culture, and its dynamic relationship to the world of fashion.

Here are more samples from the exhibition, which is on view through January 2017 in the International Terminal Main Hall & in the Aviation Museum and Library.

Trans World Airlines hostess uniform by Oleg Cassini  1955 Briny Marlin Coat & Suit Company Hat by Mae Hanauer SFO Museum

Trans World Airlines hostess uniform by Oleg Cassini 1955
Briny Marlin Coat & Suit Company
Hat by Mae Hanauer
SFO Museum

Virgin Atlantic Airways flight attendant uniform by Vivienne Westwood  2014 Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic Airways /SFO Museum

Virgin Atlantic Airways flight attendant uniform by Vivienne Westwood 2014
Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic Airways /SFO Museum

Want to be a flight attendant?

United flight attendant trainee practicing serving a premium class meal

Although flying itself may not be as glamorous and carefree and unusual an experience as the vintage advertisements tell us, being a flight attendant still offers some cool travel perks and a paycheck.

So, during a visit to Houston to observe a day of flight attendant training for United Airlines, I was not totally surprised to learn that it is still not uncommon for someone to apply for the job and get accepted into the training program having never flown in a plane.

Vonn Crosby, now an experienced United flight attendant and a Service Training Team Leader for Inflight Training, was one of those people – and it turned out just fine for her.

Vonn Crosby_a Service Training Team Leader- for United Airlines

And whether they’ve flown before or not, it will probably turn out just fine for the students I joined for a day of international service training that included learning how to prep and serve a premium class meal.

P1010711

See my full story about some of the skills you’ll need to become a flight attendant in my piece over at the Runway Girl network.