Qatar Airways Flight Attendants – Stuck in the 1960s?

Media reports have picked up on a recent press release from the International Transport Workers’ Federation that maintains some Middle Eastern-based airlines are guilty of “flagrant abuses” of workers’ rights, and the female flight attendants of Qatar Airways were singled out for special mention. The problems appear to involve their personal lives.

Today’s flight attendants – too old?

Permission to Marry

The ITF quotes what it calls a standard hiring contract for female flight attendants that says, “You are required to obtain prior permission from the company, in case you wish to change your marital status and get married.” The wording suggests the airline only hires single women although there is no mention of this on the Qatar Airways website flight attendant recruitment page. FareCompare contacted Qatar Airways about any marital status requirement but so far we have not received a response. We also inquired about a so-called pregnancy clause.

Notification of Pregnancy

Again, according to the ITF, female flight attendants are required to inform the airline if they become pregnant “from the date of her knowledge of its occurrence.” If the employee does become pregnant, that’s reason enough to terminate her employment, apparently – although it’s not clear if that always (or ever) occurs.

Yes, they really wore girdles

Just Like the “Good Old Days”

These restrictions are reminiscent of the so-called golden age of flying in the U.S. – probably best exemplified for younger people by the recent TV series Pan Am. Back in those days which ran through the 1960s and in some cases the 1970s and beyond, many U.S. airlines required flight attendants to be young (under 32) and single. There were other burdens too like weekly weigh-ins and a girdle requirement. Seems like a million years ago now – although as the ITF notes, there are apparently still a few holdouts stuck in an earlier era. Again, we have asked Qatar Airways for their side of the story and will include it as soon as we get it.

Any current or former flight attendants care to sound-off?


Published: September 26, 2013