Vueling fined $32K after female cabin crew staff told to wear high heels

Takeoff of Vueling Airlines Airbus A320-271N EC-NCT from El Prat Airport in Barcelona
BearFotos /

Low-cost carrier Vueling has been fined by Catalonian labor inspectors in Spain after the airline was criticised over its treatment of female cabin crew members.

According to local reports, female cabin crew members were instructed by the Spanish airline to wear high heels and makeup while on duty.

The case was brought to the attention of the Catalan government’s labor and workers department by the workers union STAVLA, which was representing the cabin crew members.

Spanish publication, El Periódico reported that female flight attendants were not allowed to wear “artificial-length or looking” eyelash extensions and if lipstick was worn, it must be a “low-key” shade.

Female members of staff were reportedly instructed to apply a foundation that matches their skin tone and only permitted to use black mascara.

The heels on female flight attendants’ shoes were also required to measure between two and three inches.

In contrast, male crew members were simply told to maintain a “clean and neat appearance” and were not instructed by the airline on choice of footwear.

The airline was fined $33,000 and told it could still maintain a business image in a “less burdensome and more balanced way, without affecting the fundamental rights” of workers.

The process initiated by the Labor Inspectorate of Catalonia includes a sanction proposal that is not yet definite. 

Vueling is currently studying the process to present allegations in line with its rights.

Vueling told AeroTime the airline has been “reviewing its style guide” and working on an “inclusive image” for over a year now.

“We always consider any concerns that our crew may have and these are factored into decision-making and implementation,” a spokesperson for Vueling said. “The company’s aim with the dress code is to always ensure comfort and safety in all environments. In fact, the style guide was drafted with the cooperation of the crew member representatives.”

They added: “In addition, crew members’ suggestions have been gradually incorporated. An example of this is the adaptation of the guide with regards to the use of make-up, in which there is now no gender distinction or obligation to wear make-up.”

Vueling forms part of the International Airlines Group (IAG) along with British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia.

AeroTime has contacted STAVLA for comment.

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