In early June, Hainan Airlines released its latest personal care guidelines, which advise flight attendants to meet certain body mass index (BMI) limits, which are based on the height and weight of each individual flight attendant.
Critics of these kinds of calculations and forms of weight control say they don't take into account muscle mass, which weighs more than fat, and can skew the results.
However, the airline has told its cabin crew that new rules are needed to “maintain professional image”, and Hainan Airlines itself is a visiting card for the outside world.”
The formula used by the airline to determine acceptable weight is: height in cm minus 110. That is, with a height of 170 cm, the ideal weight of a flight attendant should be 60 kg.
Employees who are overweight by 5% – in our case of 3 kg, they will fall into the “control group”. They will be forced to undergo regular tests, that is, to be weighed to make sure they are losing weight and are “on the right track.”
Stewardesses who are overweight by 10% or more will be immediately suspended from flying and put on a diet.
In a statement, a spokesman for Hainan Airlines defended the new policy, saying that it applies equally to both male and female flight attendants.
“It aims to promote a healthy lifestyle, maintain a good professional image and proper physique. Fixing a reference goal is better than passively waiting for individual crew members to shape up to the point where they directly affect safety,” the airline said.
Hainan Airlines is not the only airline to impose strict weight limits. for their flight attendants. Last year, Air India came up with new BMI checks for flight attendants, and Malaysia Airlines once fired a flight attendant for being overweight by 1kg.
Emirates is also running a secret “Appearance Management Program” that could lead to to disciplinary action for female flight attendants who switched to oversized clothing.