It’s a common misconception that cabin crew have to be “good looking” or “attractive” in order to land a job – whatever, those two terms might mean. But while beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder (and many airlines will happily hire a diverse bunch of different looking cabin crew), they do still expect their employees to be well groomed and to a standard that’s in keeping with the airline’s brand image.
And seeing that most airlines like to think of themselves as premium brands, you can expect that standard to be pretty high. Cabin crew often have to follow strict guidelines over how they wear their hair and female staffers are often told how to apply their makeup, with rules covering what colours and shades they’re allowed to wear.
Some airlines are far stricter than others – Singapore Airlines, for example, has a list of approved hairstyles for its female crew. When a new crew member joins the airline, a grooming instructor will choose what hairstyle suits them and they’ll be expected to wear that style for the rest of their career at the airline.
Other carriers, such as Emirates, position their grooming instructors in the crew check-in area – visually looking over every crew member arriving for a flight to make sure they are compliant with the airline’s grooming and makeup policy. If a crew member falls foul, they can be kicked off their flight to remedy the contravention.
Even airlines like Qantas have rules to maintain a certain level of grooming – requiring crew members to exfoliate at least twice a week in order to keep skin looking fresh and clear.
So, in a way, maybe Saudi’s latest job advert isn’t so strange – the state-run Saudi Arabian flag carrier is currently looking for a Grooming Instructor to not only “design and develop grooming courses” but also assess the appearance of cabin crew and other staffers.
This being Saudia, the position is only open to female applicants – the airline hasn’t given a reason why only female candidates can apply although this may be down to the fact that the chosen person will spend time in close proximity to female crew (a definite no-no for men in Saudi Arabia’s conservative society).
Key duties include teaching makeup and hair styling techniques, carrying out grooming spot checks and “motivating” new hire staff. Saudia is ideally looking for candidates who have a diploma in beauty.
At present, Saudia is also looking to hire more female expat cabin crew – applicants with no flying experience are only eligible if they are aged between 20 to 30 years old. Clearly, this doesn’t say much for equality at the airline although shouldn’t come as a surprise considering criticism that has been levelled at Saudi Arabia’s alleged dismal human rights record and mistreatment of female citizens.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.