Is there a competition between airlines to become more sexist than others? Russian airlines ads featuring women’s cabin crew members are too sexist. Civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho says, “I don’t want to give this airline the free publicity that its rather grubby little ad was designed to attract, but this kind of thing matters. Cabin crew are there to save your life, not to offer sex. Portraying them as flying centrefolds undermines their ability to ensure a safe and comfortable journey for passengers – and can make their working lives unbearable. It can breed a dangerous contempt that undervalues them as individuals and also as the people who have to get you out in an emergency or deal with abusive passengers in air rage incidents…The portrayal of cabin crew-members as sex objects undermines their key safety role and diminishes the level of respect passengers are likely to have for their professionalism and competence. This applies regardless of the gender of the individuals involved. For this reason, the federation believes the decision to promote such images to have been irresponsible and reckless. This kind of initiative does not foster a positive aviation safety and security culture – instead it damages safety.”
Ryanair, the Irish budget airline was challenged over the ads by an online campaign led by a female flight attendant and signed by more than 11,000 people. Ryanair’s “Red Hot Fares” ad campaign was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA received 17 complaints that the ad campaign was sexist, objectified cabin crew and was “offensive and unsuitable” to appear in a national newspaper.
Spirit Air opts to feature sexist ads and debase their flight attendants. The image provided is one of their many heinous marketing ads they’ve been criticized for in the past – M.I.L.F. conveniently means “Many Islands Low Fares,” as well as an ad that says, “We’re proud of our DDs” (which stands for “deep discounts”). Their latest plan? To force their flight attendants to wear aprons with alcohol promotions on them.
Luckily, the Flight Attendants-CWA union is taking some action on both offenses. President Pat Friend, has been sending letters to CEO Ben Baldanza:
‘I feel as though I have entered a time warp and am reliving the battles for respect and justice for women that we fought 40 years ago. Several promotional fare ads…are demeaning not to just the hardworking flight attendants at Spirit Airlines but to all of America’s professional flight attendants.
Flight attendants have a statutory obligation to enforce Federal Aviation Administration regulations regarding intoxicated passengers. In-flight aprons that prominently display a logo from an alcoholic beverage company sends the wrong signal to passengers and diminishes the ability of Spirit flight attendants to enforce vital safety and security regulations and procedures onboard.’
Lufthansa has an ad campaign last week: “letters” sent to male frequent flyers from their “girlfriends” begging to be bought a partner credit card. Critics slammed the campaign for reviving outdated consumer-mad, male-dependant female stereotypes. Lufthansa has issued a press release later reassuring customers that the company “never intended to convey outdated gender roles or excluding customers from the [partner card] scheme.”
Sexism is deep-rooted in patriarchal society. It is hard to stop sexist ads. What we need now is, more female voices saying the phrase, “this is your captain speaking”.