Ever read a job description that’s looking for some pretty absurd hiring requirements? You know the ones I’m referring to… Must be a recent graduate with 10 years experience, training not provided but expected to be proficient… that type of thing?
Well, some portions of the aviation industry have hiring requirements for flight attendants that make even the most insane boss sound perfectly fine. There is something about aviation that brings out the worst in a few employers, who seem to think that their flight attendants are nothing more than glorified waitresses.
We’ve found out there are plenty of articles about the best airlines to work for as cabin crew, but surprisingly few covering the worst airlines!
So, from onerous initial hiring requirements to draconian controls over where flight attendants can live and what they can weigh — even if they can get married! — we are mixing things up and taking a look at some of the worst flight attendant requirements!
Here are six times airlines took it too far, and some of the most outrageous demands they made to their cabin crew!
1. You need to be young free and single
The first unwritten requirement for many flight attendant applications is that applicants must be unmarried. Some airlines even go so far as to insist that flight attendants must remain single for the duration of their employment!
Qatar Airways hit the news back in 2015 when it announced in one of its recruitment drives the following exhaustive list of requirements for its flight attendants:
The airline denies the allegations, but the workers union representing the flight attendants — ITA — had collected evidence alongside hundreds of testimonies.
Having worked as a flight attendant in the Middle East, and with many friends still out there, I can vouch for how Qatar treats some of its cabin crew. But, don’t believe me, just ask the CEO what he thinks about women’s role in society…
Akbar Al Baker, reportedly stunned reporters when asked about poor representation of women in Middle East aviation, saying of his role as Qatar Airways CEO: “Of course, it has to be led by a man because it is a very challenging positionQatar boss says a woman couldn’t do his job — CNBC
2. No men allowed!
Not wanting to leave out male flight attendants, if you were under the impression ridiculous flight attendant requirements were only imposed on female cabin crew, think again!
There are still plenty of airlines where being male prohibits you from even applying.
Notable airlines that have banned or opened female only selection days include, Turkish Airlines, Singapore, and Air Asia.
By keeping a proportion of the interview dates available for men and women, many airlines avoid accusations of only hiring female FA’s and try to keep their gender-dubious hiring practises on the quiet. After all, while it’s a strangely accepted that flight attendants should be overwhelmingly female, many countries legally prohibit discrimination on gender.
However, one airline did manage to make headlines — low-cost Indian carrier Go Air. Proudly advertising that it would definitely not be hiring any more male flight attendants, Go Air had an interesting excuse! When called-out on only hiring petite female flight attendants, the CEO responded that it was a rule for fuel efficiency.
Although none of the cabin stewards will be sacked, all forthcoming recruitment for the 80 additional aircraft Go Air plans on inducting by 2020 will be stewardesses. Mr Roni told the Times of India that his airline was constantly engaged in reducing the weight its aircraft carried.Indian Airline To Only Employ Female FA’s — The Telegraph
3. Want to be a flight attendant? Only if you have had a child!
For years, Chinese budget carrier Spring Airlines only hired young and attractive air hostesses. That’s right up until it conducted an online poll which found that actually many of their customers preferred more experienced flight attendants.
That’s an easy fix, right? Simply extend the contracts of your existing flight attendants and stop heavily discriminating during the hiring process? Eventually, you’ll end up with an experienced team of all ages and abilities.
To the surprise of nobody who works in the industry, Spring Airlines decided that instead of improving conditions, they would simply perform a drastic U-turn on their hiring processes. Introducing — flight aunties!
The airline decided to actively recruits older women, with a more “maternal” image. Applications were only open to married mothers between the age of 25-45. They even go as far as to promote their “flight aunties” on social media, in an attempt to appeal to a wider demographic of travellers.
4. Watch out for the weight police!
Many airlines have strict restrictions on physical attributes, but it doesn’t stop at height. Some carriers are notorious for the weight police they employ to keep their flight attendants in check.
Singapore Airlines is often lauded as one of the best airlines in the world to work for, but even they expect their flight attendants to maintain a slim figure from the minute they return from maternity leave.
One of the most extreme examples is “Fly Better” champion Emirates. Flight attendants working for Emirates are weighed every month, and if they are found to have gained any weight, they are given a strict diet plan and exercise regime.
Although unofficially known as the weight police, Emirates officially describe the weight checkers as Airline Grooming Officers. Allegedly one of the key triggers was monitoring uniform requests, with whistleblowing managers stating that if somebody increased a size in uniform within 6-months that would trigger further investigation!
Known as the Appearance Management Programme, punishments for not losing weight fast enough included being grounded and even included pay-cuts! Some previous employees have reportedly been fired.
5. And willing to be locked up!
The global Covid-19 pandemic brought aviation to a standstill, but when things began to pick up again, flight attendants were often subjected to extreme rules whilst at work. For their safety, of course…
This time, it was arguably the Middle Eastern carriers who added the most draconian rules. Airlines such as Qatar continued to fly throughout the duration of the pandemic, simply forcing their cabin crew to not leave their hotel rooms. For the entirety of the trips abroad!
Back in the Middle East, there was no respite from the relentless room confinement at home, either. Under hastily approved aviation safety laws, cabin crew from airlines, including Emirates, were confined to their flats back at home too! In fact, the only time flight attendants were allowed out of their rooms, was to go back to work!
Cabin crew are almost completely barred from leaving their accommodation except to go to work or seek urgent medical care.Qatar Airways FAs Banned From Leaving Hotel Rooms — Paddleyourownkanoo
6. Bring your own nappies!
Number 6 on the most extreme cabin crew requirements list really does highlight how bad some airlines are to work for!
Not wanting to be outdone by their Middle Eastern counterparts, Chinese airlines decided to take Covid-19 rules to the most extreme levels we have ever heard of in early 2021.
Aside from mandatory vaccinations, masks, hand sanitiser, gloves, goggles, and flying with full hazmat suits at times, Chinese airlines recommended their flight attendants to refrain from using the bathroom whilst flying.
Yes, you read that right. Aviation health recommendations required Chinese flight attendants to wear adult nappies, to ensure that they minimised germ risk from using aircraft lavatories.
We have no idea how this would work practically, but we do know that it would be incredibly uncomfortable. It’s also one of the rare occasions where the extreme flight attendant rules make us feel sorry for the passengers onboard too!
So, there you have it, six of the most ridiculous flight attendant requirements from around the world. If you thought this job would be nothing but high-end travel, cocktails and glamour, hopefully this article has opened your eyes to some of the realities behind the scenes.
From being forced to live in a hotel room, to wearing adult nappies, it’s clear that airlines will go to extreme lengths to keep the show on the road during the Covid-19 pandemic. But, even pre-pandemic, draconian hiring requirements and ever-changing rules were the norm at many global airlines.
However, if you are considering applying to be a flight attendant, don’t let this article put you off. As long as you are a single, married, young-to-middle aged, in-shape, mother of one — who doesn’t mind isolation or wearing diapers — you might just tick all the boxes!