Flight attendants have reacted with horror to a new video that has been shared on social media showing performers dressed as flight attendants singing along to a modified version of Shirley Bassey’s 1986 hit, Big Spender. The performance appears to be ‘celebrating’ high-value Executive Platinum frequent flyers with the skimpily dressed flight attendants cavorting around one such customer who has been dragged on stage to take part in the performance.
Where and when this performance was filmed is still unclear although it’s believed the event took place recently and was arranged by a private group of American Airlines frequent flyers. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped some flight attendants speculating that the airline had some part in organising or endorsing the downright sexist performance. American, has, however, since confirmed it had nothing to do with the performance.
This is Robert Isom’s view of #FlightAttendants? In a workplace that is already a powder keg of sexual harassment, executives heaping on some more abuse is simply disgraceful:
They are telling the world that sexualizing Flight Attendants is normal. https://t.co/Vtt1LJoIoG
— TWU (@transportworker) February 17, 2019
I am reminded today (after watching your video clip of a sickening burlesque show) how true this still is – the old sexist policies and practices affecting so many FA’s in their jobs.
Passengers like you, who think this is fun, are PART of the problem. https://t.co/5BP04wnR92
— PaxView Jeff (@JR_justJR) February 17, 2019
Was supposed to be cute or funny? Because it’s not either of those things. Degrading is what it is.
— Michelle Raymond (@jetgirlie) February 17, 2019
And the organizers of this party need to have a lecture and have the elite status revoked or some form of consequence to not allow someone else to do this. The value of the American Brand can hurt something not by them is the risk we all live in the age of social media.
— James Balch (@BalchJamesBalch) February 17, 2019
@AmericanAir ~ thank you for showing how you TRULY feel about your flight attendants ~ No respect whatsoever. True colors will continue to show through as more and more people see this. Flight attendants deserve so much more than this. smdh #norespect #AmericanAirissexist
— Jen Ramsey (@jenioroso) February 17, 2019
I don’t think there’s anything humorous about portraying professional Flight Attendants as cabaret dancers for men’s entertainment. F/A’s are there to provide safety and security in flight. What do you think about this @APFAunity? Shame on you @AmericanAir!
— Brian Parker (@Brian_TWU) February 17, 2019
The union which represents American’s 27,000 cabin crew, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) called the video “blatantly sexist”, “degrading” and “totally unaccepetable”. The union explained that it had “asked AA’s management to look into this and let us know what the facts of this situation are and whether it is an AA sanctioned event.”
“This cannot be happening in today’s environment. We will not tolerate our profession being objectified in a sexist manner,” commented APFA National President Lori Bassani. “We want the facts about the Company’s involvement and we want answers.”
American Airlines has recently set itself on somewhat of a collision course with its own flight attendants who are unhappy with the way the airline is treating them. In another recent communication from the flight attendant union, APFA warned its members that the airline was using “union-busting tactics” in order to “divide and conquer”.
The airline will likely want to distance itself as much as possible with this performance and has since called it “demeaning” in an emailed statement. A spokesperson for the airline told us:
“We saw a customer’s social media post depicting a group of American flight attendants at a customer-organized and hosted event. What was portrayed in the skit, which was produced by a group of customers and not sanctioned by the airline, is not representative of the 27,000 professional flight attendants who take great care of millions of customers each year.”
“We are in contact with the customer who posted the video, have asked him to remove it and have let him know that the actions depicted in the skit are demeaning to our professional flight attendants and crew members throughout the industry.”
An update from American Airline, along with further information can be found on this updated post here.
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.