Last week a court in India ruled that Indian Airlines, the state owned airline, could ground flight attendants based on their weight. The judge in the case said:
No airline can afford to remain lax in any department whatsoever, be it the personality of the crew members of their physical fitness.
This is interesting. The issue of safety is brought up concerning the contention that Indian Airlines can factor in the weight of their female flight attendants. Now, at first glance this seems like a very sane, rational decision. But, if one looks further they would see the issues with this:
Weight alone doesn’t signify ability. During a crisis on an airplane, I know I would want an older, more experienced flight attendant taking control. Chances are that these are the women targeted by this ruling. The article in the BBC says, “The Indian airline industry has grown rapidly over the past decade and new private airlines have introduced an element of glamour, hiring young slim air hostesses, often dressed in short skirts and high heels.”
Who determines the limit? The judge didn’t rule on the fairness of the weight classifications given. Are they rooted in science, observation or performance? I don’t know, but I would think if they are anything like the American definition almost everyone will be affected. The FAA has no limit for flight attendants.
Where is the line drawn? Is it performance or looks? This decision doesn’t seem to take into account any performance related metrics of the overweight flight attendants. It does take into account looks.
These sorts of issues will face those living with obesity in the coming years.