China’s Hainan Airlines recently issued a notice stating that female flight attendants who are 10 percent above the standard weight will be suspended from flying as part of efforts to manage employee image.
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These guidelines, outlined in a guidance on professional image released by Hainan Airlines on June 4, aim to regulate the weight of female flight attendants.
According to an employee in the civil aviation industry, Hainan Airlines is the first domestic airline to propose weight limit on female flight attendants. A legal expert is concerned that these requirements impose additional labor obligations without clear legal procedures or regulations, potentially violating employment laws.
Hainan Airlines determines the weight standard using the formula: “height (cm) – 110 = standard weight (kg).” Any weight exceeding this is considered overweight.
If the attendant is 5 percent overweight but not exceeding 10 percent, she will be given a 30-day period to reduce the weight. During this time, her weight will be closely monitored on a weekly basis. If her weight continues to increase and surpasses the 10 percent limit, she will face immediate suspension from flying.
The introduction of these regulations is motivated by the airline’s emphasis on maintaining a professional and visually appealing image, as flight attendants serve as representatives of the airline.
An employee surnamed Huang told the media that existing regulatory standards for flight attendants primarily focus on aviation safety, there are no restrictive measures, such as weight requirements.
“If airlines deprive overweight flight attendants of the right to work normally purely because of visual considerations, this is definitely discrimination,” she said.
According to Reuters, in contrast to Western countries, where cabin crew roles are relatively low-paying and mostly do not require a college degree, flight attendants in China require not only physical attractiveness but also a bachelor’s degree and good English skills.