American Airlines says it is “as upset” as many of its flight attendants and other team members over a viral video depicting flight attendants performing a burlesque style dance in front of a group of the airline’s frequent flyers. The video, which was originally posted by a prominent airline blogger on Sunday afternoon, has since been deleted from Twitter but is still available to view here.
Jamie Larounis, who is behind the Forward Cabin blog has gone back to Twitter to make it clear that the video was in no way sanctioned or endorsed by American Airlines after the airline was blasted for apparently being involved in the skit. But Larounis insists that the ‘flight attendants’ shown in the video are in fact employed by American Airlines and regularly perform in an out of work group called Salute.
The video shows the flight attendants singing along to a reworked version of Shirley Bassey’s hit song Big Spender in which they ‘celebrate’ American Airlines’ frequent flyers. Flight attendants have reacted with horror to the video, calling it sexist and degrading.
Meanwhile, American Airlines has been forced to send out an urgent memo to its entire workforce to denounce the skit and clarify the fact that the company had nothing to do with the performance.
“We wanted to clarify some information that is being circulated through social media about a video featuring a flight attendant skit. To be clear, we are as upset as many of you are with the video. We have been in touch with APFA and several flight attendants since early this morning and we all share the same concerns,” the memo reads.
“Here is what we know: The video is from a customer-organized concert held at a private residence. The group is composed of customers who host various meetings and events each year. This was not an American Airlines event. We did not have any say about the content of the event, nor did we preview any of the agenda. Additionally, we were particularly upset to see our logo on the screen as the skit was performed.
What was portrayed in the skit was not sanctioned by the airline and is not representative of the 27,000 professional flight attendants who take great care of millions of customers each year. We spoke to the customer who posted the original video and shared our concerns that the actions depicted in the skit he witnessed are demeaning to our professional flight attendants and crew members throughout the industry. We are thankful that he listened to our concerns and that he agreed to remove the video.
We have reached out to this group of customers that hosted the event to express our displeasure with the content of the skit. Additionally, we will continue our discussion with the APFA on this matter. Our flight attendants do incredible things each and every day to take care of our customers and each other. We have the best team in the business and are proud of the work they do.”
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants has reacted with horror to the skit and has demanded urgent answers from American Airlines. “Reportedly, the skit was part of a fundraising auction and event with AA customers. AA Senior Management has represented to the APFA that it has nothing to do with the private skit or event,” the union has told its members.
But there are still unanswered questions. For example, where was the skit performed and how did private members get a list of other Advantage members? APFA also wants to whether American donated any resources for the event and what the airline’s relationship is with the sponsor of the event?
Was this just a bit of harmless fun? Well, in the context of how flight attendants have been portrayed and sexualised in the past, it would seem to be in bad taste at the very least. Many flight attendants have worked tirelessly to achieve equal rights and representation – this really harks back to a time when flight attendants were picked on their looks and youth to appeal to middle-aged male businessmen.
Thankfully, U.S.-based airlines have consigned those times to the history books – or at least we thought it had been left behind.
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.