Hainan Airlines, a Chinese carrier, is receiving backlash for a policy that can lead to employees being suspended if their body weight exceeds that set by the airline. This decision has sparked controversy and drawn the attention of body-positive activists.
According to reports, Hainan Airlines has set a weight reference standard based on employees’ height. For instance, if a flight attendant is 1.58 metres tall, they should ideally weigh around 48 kilograms. Failing to meet this weight standard can result in suspension from job responsibilities.
The consequences for surpassing the weight limit differ. Those who exceed the suitable figure by 5 per cent will be closely monitored, while surpassing it by 10 per cent or more will lead to immediate suspension and the implementation of a ‘weight reduction plan’. This policy applies to both male and female flight attendants.
Chinese social media users have expressed their dissatisfaction with Hainan airlines’ weight-based policy. Many argue that a flight attendant’s competence in performing their job and following safety procedures should be the primary focus, rather than their physical appearance. They believe that qualifications and skills are more important than weight.
Hainan Airlines defends the policy by claiming that it promotes a healthy lifestyle and a professional image. The airline asserts that the weight reference standard aims to proactively maintain the crew members’ physical well-being.
This incident adds to the ongoing debate surrounding appearance standards in the airline industry. Recently, Australia’s Qantas Airways has taken a different approach. It announced that its employees are allowed to opt out of wearing makeup, high heels, and maintaining short hair. This move promotes individuality and stands in contrast to Hainan’s weight-based suspension policy.