More flight attendants are joining the fight for the right to wear protective gear such as masks and gloves on planes, as the number of swine flu patients rises around the globe. The chairwoman of the British Airways Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association, Carol Ng Man-yee, said she planned to issue a plea for help to health minister York Chow Yat-ngok tomorrow. 'Major transport operators in Hong Kong all told their staff to wear masks, but we who are exposed to greater risks, are not allowed to do so. How unfair is that?' Ms Ng said she would write to Dr Chow on behalf of her union and cabin crews from another British airline, Virgin Atlantic, as she had heard that some of its flight attendants had made similar demands but had no union representatives. On Saturday, Cathay Pacific backed down on its policy of banning cabin crew from wearing masks after Dr Chow appealed to it to be more flexible if staff felt unwell or uncomfortable not wearing a mask. The Association of Flight Attendants - a major union in the United States - wrote to the US Federal Aviation Administration about the same issue. British Airways said medical advice did not support wearing masks because under World Health Organisation guidelines, the risk of contracting the H1N1 flu virus was limited to those in close contact with an infected person for more than an hour. It told staff masks and gloves were only advised when in close contact with an infected person. Virgin Atlantic's medical boss in the UK said it was 'not necessary and staff should not wear masks on duty, unless they are following the specific procedures for dealing with a sick passenger'. A Virgin flight attendant said many of her colleagues wanted a change in policy. 'You can't blame us for being cautious. We have experienced Sars [severe acute respiratory syndrome] and [wearing masks] is for the good of both us and our passengers.' At Chek Lap Kok airport, flight attendants and ground officers from various airlines said they would not wear a face mask even if they were allowed to do so because they did not think the virus was severe. Some felt a mask would not protect them. But Ms Ng said the point was that employees were given the choice. 'You don't have to wear it if you don't think you need it.'