Thursday, May 5, 2011

Union blasts American for flight attendant 'beauty contest'

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Comments  61

By Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

American Airlines is looking for its most photogenic flight attendants.

But the attendants union is criticizing the airline, saying the effort essentially amounts to a "beauty contest" that the union says recalls a sexist era in which attendants were known as stewardesses, Bloomberg News reports.

American has put out a call for some of its best-looking attendants -- both male and female -- at each of its crew bases. The airline says its goal is to find attendants willing to be uniform models that the company can use in internal marketing materials, such as brochures and newsletters.

Winners of the "Face of Your Base" call will participate in a photo shoot to help produce images for those items.

However, Laura Glading -- president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants -- sent an e-mail last week to the union's members. In it, she urges them to boycott the search and says it undermines the attendants' primary role of ensuring safety on board the aircraft, according to Bloomberg.

"This campaign just transported us back 50 years to the days of girdles, weight-checks and single, female-only stewardesses having to quit when they were married, pregnant or reached the ripe old age of 30," Glading is quoted by Bloomberg as writing in the email.

Glading goes on to call the effort a "ridiculous, insulting beauty contest."

American has a different take.

"We understand that every campaign may not be of interest to every flight attendant, but encourage those who want to participate to do so," AA spokeswoman Missy Cousino says in an e-mail to Bloomberg. "We've had several flight attendants express how flattered they were to be nominated to be featured in our internal company materials."

MSNBC quotes an AA statement in which the airline points out that the Face of Your Base campaign was "created by our Customer Experience team in Chicago, comprised of both flight attendants and field managers."

Of course, the dispute does not come in a vacuum. The relationship between AA and its labor groups has grown increasingly contentious during the past few years.

That includes AA's flight attendants, who have been in talks for a new contract since 2008.

Today's talker: Who do you side with? Does the union have a point? Or is the airline simply offering attendants a chance to help the airline put forward its best face? Share your thoughts.

Posted May 4 2011 10:52AM

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