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Korean Air Finally Scraps the Term ‘Stewardess’ In Favour of Gender-Neutral ‘Flight Attendant’

Korean Air Finally Scraps the Term ‘Stewardess’ In Favour of Gender-Neutral ‘Flight Attendant’

a group of women in uniform taking a selfie

Korean Air is set to finally scrap the terms ‘stewardess’ and ‘steward’ in favour of the widely-used and gender-neutral alternative ‘flight attendant’.

It is the first time in its 53-year history that the Seoul-based carrier has changed its gendered cabin crew terminology according to Daum News which first reported the policy change after obtaining an internal memo with details of the policy shift.

The names ‘stewardess’ and ‘steward’ were commonly used in the early days of commercial aviation, but the terminology started to fall out of fashion in the 1970s and 1980s as (female) flight attendants fought for equality.

The word ‘stewardess’ became synonymous with sexist airline policies that barred female flight attendants from getting married or having a baby. In the 1960s and 1970s, flight attendants in the U.S. started to fight back, and in 1986 United Airlines United settled a $33 million class action lawsuit over its no-marriage rules.

Over the decades, flight attendant unions have effectively trained the general public to use gender-neutral terms to describe their profession. In the U.S., the term flight attendant is widely used, whereas in Europe and the Middle East, the term cabin crew is preferred.

In many Spanish-speaking countries, the equally gender-neutral name ‘tripulación de cabina’ is used.

Daum News reports that Korean Air is also shifting to the term ‘flight attendant’ in order to promote gender equality. A spokesperson for the airline, however, refused to comment, citing internal privacy concerns.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Singapore Airlines had changed its long-standing policy of sacking female flight attendants who got pregnant. The airline will now allow pregnant flight attendants to apply for a temporary ground job before returning to flying after they have given birth.

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