Business, Economics and Jobs

Singapore: make way for the mature stewardess


An escalator passes by a huge poster of a Singapore Airlines stewardess in in Singapore in 2004.



There's a reason so many hostesses flying with Asian airlines appear cast by a modeling agency.

Many Asian carriers are unabashed in insisting on youth and beauty as a stewardess job requirement. One Thai carrier that heavily markets its stewardesses' sex appeal, Nok Air, retires its hostesses at 29.

Such requirements would almost certainly attract lawsuits in the U.S.

America's laws on hiring biases towards female, attractive employes were actually shaped by claims against airlines: a 1974 suit against now-defunct Pan American Airlines and a 1981 suit against Southwest Airlines. Both were filed by men disgruntled with the airlines' overwhelming preference for good-looking women.

So it's interesting to see that Singapore Airlines, which first iconized the Asian flying beauty with its "Singapore Girl" campaign decades ago, is finally relenting to pressure from older hostesses.

According to the Asia News Network, the airline, responding to a lawsuit, will extend its maximum employment time so that senior stewardesses could potentially still fly until their early 50s.

There's more. Reports the Asia News Network: "Now ... as long as the crew keep themselves fit and presentable, and have a good work attitude, they should be able to stay on."

Mature stewardesses? OK.

Grumpy, overweight stewardesses? Still a firing offense.