My Take

A weight off the minds of airline chiefs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 3:35am

For the thousands who consider an air crew job to be all glamour and a chance to see the world, here is a word of caution. Life is not, it seems, always so smooth up there. A photo of some crew members praying for the flight to be on time that circulated on the internet proves that. Not only do they have to wait around dressed up and look unruffled, when the job actually starts they are confronted by a plane load of angry passengers.

Some incidents of air rage that have been reported recently show how demanding their jobs can be. Take the example of one woman passenger who wanted a Hong Kong Airlines flight to be delayed as her friends forgot to buy duty free cigarettes. Dealing with such people can be a trying job. Then there are the restless hands of some cheeky passengers.

Maybe it is with this in mind that Shanghai-based Spring Airlines announced that it would hire "flight aunties" - married mothers - as crew members. The experience of bringing up a couple of brats at home should equip them to deal with some of those passengers, a reasoning one can agree with.

But it may also be a desperate attempt by this particular airline to gain some public support, as its last attempt to spruce up their service involved asking the female air crew to dress up as maids. That didn't win Spring much mileage with customers.

The competition in the industry is getting pretty high octane and airlines worldwide are rolling out different strategies to woo more passengers and cut costs to survive. Some of them are bizarre.

One budget airline in India recently announced that it would not hire any more male crew.

GoAir, which operates 15 aircraft, reckons a female air crew member weighs 15-20kg less than her male counterparts and the fuel cost saved by the weight difference would save 300 million rupees (HK$39.2 million) annually. To show that it means business, the airline also announced it would make inflight magazines thinner by a few pages and would not fill the water tanks to the brim. Thankfully, the 132 men in their 330-strong crew staff will not be offloaded immediately. It can only be a matter of time before some aviation sector genius latches on to this weighty idea and floats a female-passengers-only airline.