Flight attendants at Air India have objected to new body mass weight checks that they will be subjected to by uniform police known as ‘grooming associates‘ before reporting for flights. The cabin crew union fears the checks could negatively impact a crew member’s mental health just as they’re about to take on important safety tasks.
The new weight checks were announced by Air India’s Inflight Services Department in a letter aimed at making flight attendants comply with tough new uniform and grooming standards.
“Cabin crew who are well-dressed and well-groomed according to uniform standards and regulations, present a positive and professional image of the airline,” the internal memo noted.
The airline’s cabin crew association has objected to the new rules, specifically on the grounds that the body mass index and weight of cabin crew will be checked by non-healthcare professionals. Indian cabin crew already need to do an annual weigh-in at a medical office.
In 2009 Air India dismissed nine flight attendants for being overweight – apparently because their shape could “impair agility” and six years later, the airline threatened to fire 125 crew for the same reason. In 2017, Air India grounded 57 flight attendants for the same reason.
In February 2020, a Maylasian court upheld a decision by Maylasian Airlines to dismiss a flight attendant because they were just 1kg over what the carrier deemed to be an acceptable weight.
Former Emirates cabin crew have recently spoken out about the frequent weigh-in’s that they were subjected to by uniform ‘police’ at the Dubai-based airline. As exclusively revealed by this publication in 2018, Emirates runs a secretive ‘Appearance Management Programme’ that can result in disciplinary action for crew who go up a dress size.
Cabin crew at the airline are reviewed by Uniform Standards Officers before reporting for a flight and those who are deemed not to be up to standard can be grounded for up to a month at a time.
Crew members who are deemed as overweight are made to attend regular weigh-in’s before being allowed to return to the skies.
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.