Spanish budget carrier Vueling, part of the parent company that owns British Airways and Iberia, faces a regulatory fine in Spain for its dress and appearance standards for female flight attendants.
Vueling Faces Fine For Its Dress And Appearance Standards For Female Flight Attendants
Spanish media reports that requirements for female flight attendants at Vueling include:
- foundation that closely matches skin tone
- black eyeliner and mascara
- heals between 2-3 inches in height
Further, the following is banned:
- “artificial-looking or excessively long” eyelash extensions
- eyeshadow that is not light gray or light brown
- lipstick that is not “discreet”
Contrast this with men, who are simply told to maintain a”clean and neat appearance.”
Vueling now faces a fine of EUR30,000 from Catalonian authorities for gender discrimination and says it is studying its options, though it notes that current dress and appearance standards were made with input from the union representing flight attendants:
“We always consider the concerns of our stakeholders and together analyze their implementation. The company’s aim is to ensure their comfort and safety in any environment. In fact, the style guide was drafted with the approval of the representatives of the crew members.”
Is the aim to ensure comfort and safety or to sell plane tickets?
The fine is significant because it is the first time in Spain a government agency has attempted to regulate the aesthetic expectations of airline employees.
Should Flight Attendants Be Asked To “Look Nice?”
The question above implicates gender norms, equality under the new Zeitgeist that blurs distinctions between genders, and also calls us to consider what the purpose of a flight attendant is.
I’m not fully convinced of where I fall on this issue. On the one hand, I appreciate the grooming standards that give flight attendants in the Middle East and East Asia such a professional and uniform appearance (both are distinct from beauty, yet crucially important). On the other hand, I do note that the added expense of these items does put women at a disadvantage to men. Furthermore, there has been a history of sexism when it comes to female flight attendants that is intolerable today, no matter how an airline decides to require its female flight attendants to appear for the job.
I’d welcome your thoughts on this below.
Vueling faces a €30,000 discrimination fine for its dress and appearance standards that seemingly place a much higher and costlier burden on women than men. The fine is still being worked out and may be removed if Vueling updates it policy, which the Spanish carrier says it is exploring.