Hainan Airlines stands by its policy of suspending overweight flight attendants

Hainan Airlines Global Facebook page

Aspiring flight attendants who wish to apply for Hainan Airlines may want to double check requirements.

As of June 2023, the Chinese airline imposed a strict weight restriction on its female flight attendants, state media Global Times reported. 

According to the airline’s new rules, the weight requirement will be calculated by an individual’s height. For instance, a flight attendant who stands 158 centimeters (5 feet 1 inch), which is the average height of an adult Chinese woman, would be required to stay within the weight of 48 kilograms (105 pounds).

Because flight attendants are considered the airline’s representative to the outside world, it is significant that they maintain a “professional image”, the report said. 

The rule stated that female flight attendants who are 10% overweight based on the given metrics will be suspended immediately and will be required to undergo a weight reduction program. 

Those who are less than 5% overweight will be subject to a monthly monitoring program that includes on-site weighing. 

The new requirements attracted plenty of objections from Chinese social media platform Weibo. 

“I just need the flight attendant to be fully qualified in professional knowledge, well-practiced in safety procedures, and wear the most suitable shoes and clothes for emergencies. Her weight is none of my business,” read one comment.

Other users also pointed out that being a flight attendant is a physically demanding job, and when emergency situations arise, an employee possessing strength and stamina under pressure is more important than having a slim figure.

Despite the public reaction, Hainan Airlines is standing by its ruling. 

On June 12, 2023, the airline told CNN that it used a “weight reference standard” when creating the rule, but also said that the regulation applied to all flight attendants regardless of gender.

The standard, according to the airline, is “based on the standard human body weight reference and matched with the healthy weight range measurement for the crew.” 

It also added that the rules are used to evaluate and manage the crew’s “health, physical shape and posture”.

“This is intended to advocate healthy living habits and maintain a good professional image and healthy physique by anchoring the reference target, rather than passively waiting for individual crew members’ physique to change significantly and then affect safety service work,” the airline said.

The airline also said the measure “cannot be interpreted as a simple criterion to suspend a flight attendant like some media did.”

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