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Flight Attendant Fired Over $7 Sandwich

Flight Attendant Fired Over $7 Sandwich


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A Ryanair flight attendant was fired for eating one of the airlines’ sandwiches

Wikimedia/PDPhoto.org

A Ryanair flight attendant was fired for eating one of the airline's $7.50 sandwiches without permission.

There are some things that just don’t seem worth fighting over, but sometimes people are willing to go through a lot of drama for something relatively insignificant, as in the case of the Ryanair flight attendant who was fired for eating a sandwich on duty.

According to The Local, a Madrid-based flight attendant was the subject of an official misconduct review back in 2010 after he was caught eating one of the airline’s ham, tomato, and cheese baguettes. The $7.50 sandwich was meant for passengers, and Ryanair regulations reportedly require staff members to first inform a superior and then pay for any items before eating them. This flight attendant did not do so, but still, it was just a sandwich.

After Ryanair’s investigation, the flight attendant was fired over the $7.50 sandwich. Understandably disgruntled, he filed a lawsuit in Madrid, where Ryanair has offices. His suit came to naught, however, as two judges said Ryanair operates according to Irish law. Confusing the matter was the fact that the flight attendant was hired through a job agency in Ireland and was officially part of the airline’s branch in Oslo, Norway. The Spanish courts did not rule on whether or not the firing was just, but said the flight attendant would have to file suit in either Ireland or Norway.

Ryanair has run into problems before. It was recently fined €8 million, or $11 million, in France for violating French labor laws by hiring France-based staff on Irish contracts. Ryanair said it plans to appeal the ruling.


Names of 5 Crew Members, 32 Passengers in Crash Released

The names of five crew members and 32 of the passengers aboard Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771, which crashed Monday in San Luis Obispo County, killing 43 people, were released by the airline and other sources.

The partial list of those aboard the aircraft included:

--Capt. Gregg N. Lindamood, 43, of Julian, Calif., a 14-year veteran pilot with PSA who had logged 11,000 hours in the air, including 1,500 hours on the BAe-146.

--First Officer James Howard Nunn, 48, of Upland, Calif., who had been flying with PSA since March and had logged 12,000 hours in the air with 300 hours aboard the BAe-146.

--Flight attendant Debbie Nissen Neil, 37, of San Jose, a 17-year PSA employee.

--Flight attendant Debra Watterson Vuylsteke, 32, of Redding, Conn., a 10-year PSA employee.

--Flight attendant trainee Julie Gottesman, 20, of Veradale, Wash., employed since November.

--Shawn Addington, San Francisco Bay Area.

--D. Burke, reportedly a fired USAir employee.

--Jim Carroll, Redwood City, Calif.

--Stephen Cone, San Francisco Bay Area.

--John Conte, San Francisco Bay Area, a PSA customer service agent in San Francisco who was a passenger.

--Anthony Cordova, San Francisco Bay Area.

--Sharon Engstrom, San Francisco Bay Area.

--Karen Fox, hometown unknown.

--Donald Hoag, San Francisco Bay Area.

--Theresa Kekai, Los Angeles area.

--Jocelyn G. Kempe, 56, Ojai, Calif., a senior public affairs representative for Chevron USA Inc.

--Karin Krom, San Francisco Bay Area.

--Kathleen Mika, 25, Arcadia, Calif.

--Owen Murphy, Los Angeles, regional vice president of public affairs for Chevron.

--Wayne Nelson, hometown unknown.

--Cliff Perry, San Francisco Bay Area.

--Kevin Phelen, Los Angeles area.

--Curtis Rhee, San Francisco Bay Area.

--John Roseen, Los Angeles area.

--Bill Rosenberg, San Francisco Bay Area.

--Camile Scafire, San Francisco Bay Area.

--Kirk Shiba, San Francisco Bay Area.

--Allen F. Swanson, Long Beach, Calif., public affairs manager for Chevron in Southern California.

--James Sylla, 53, Kentfield, Calif., president of Chevron USA.

--Ray Thomson, Tiburon, Calif., USAir station manager at Los Angeles International Airport.

--Earl Webb Jr., Los Angeles area.

--Leon Winters, San Francisco.

Of the six passengers who remain unidentified, in one case the family has requested that the name not be released.


The note regarding this incident

Here’s the note that was allegedly sent regarding the incident:

“Greetings Air Safety Organization and ALPA Safety Council,

Earlier this week during the massive snowstorm throughout the Central and Eastern States, we had a DEICE incident that could have led to a catastrophic outcome.

We (FFT) had an aircraft request and receive type 1 and type 4 deicing. The Vendor (Trego Dugan) stated to our flight deck crew that the aircraft was deiced and clear of contaminants.

Upon reaching the runway, and preparing for departure, an alarmed flight attendant called the flight deck stating that the wings were covered with snow and ice still. The flight crew visually inspected and retuned tot he gate. Both wings had about a foot of snow and ice still covering the wings with some fluid sprayed throughout the wing area. We found out the vendor was running low on fluid. They have since been terminated from our operations.

We are letting everyone know, as a safety precaution, about our experience with Trego Dugan Deice in BNA.”


Glamour With Altitude

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You’ve probably always been told that flight attendants hate being referred to as stewardesses, that to do so is a faux pas on the order of asking for a Turkish coffee in a Greek café. But this isn’t entirely so. Many flight attendants are proud of having been stewardesses, and well they should be. They were the best-dressed, best-groomed runaways the world has ever seen.

Readers who grew up in the 1970s or later may need to be reminded that stewardesses are what flight attendants were called once upon a time when they were uniformly young, single, slim, attractive, and female. A good smile (all teeth, no gums) and some ability as a conversationalist were further prerequisites. Sonnie Morrow Sims, for one, fit the bill in all particulars. In the early 1960s she might have been described as a leggy blonde then, as now, it was a skill set that could open many doors. As a 20-year-old college dropout, she began flying for American Airlines in 1962, a time when air travel in general was a far more rarefied experience than it is today: even on routine flights she would pass out roses to women passengers and serve seven-course meals on fine china and linen tablecloths. She also flew on special charters such as the plane that took the Beatles from city to city in 1966 on their last U.S. tour and the government-contracted flights that ferried soldiers to Vietnam and, if they were fortunate, back home again. Flying with the Beatles was fun: she saved the utensils and everything else they touched in airsickness bags and sent it to her kid sister back home in Minnesota. The Vietnam flights were fun, too, in their way, though when the young soldiers she had just spent hours getting to know deplaned in Saigon or Da Nang, she would lock herself in the bathroom and sob, unable to say good-bye.

Not every stewardess at every airline had the opportunity to knock a bowl of cereal into John Lennon’s lap (he refused to laugh it off) or get shot at during takeoff by the Vietcong (they missed), but, for most, flying was an adventure in and of itself at a time when the average woman got married at the age of 20 and when opportunities outside the home were limited to teaching, nursing, and the secretarial pool. “None of that appealed to me,” says Sims. “I just really wanted to travel.” Well, sure. And for tens of thousands of young women like her, women who were spirited and daring, who may have wanted to meet Mr. Right, but not before a bit of larking about (“This morning, sight-seeing in New York—and in about five hours, I’ll meet my date for dinner in San Francisco,” read a 1961 recruiting ad for American Airlines), the draw was obvious. “Marriage is fine! But shouldn’t you see the world first?” asked a 1967 United Airlines ad. Yes, most stewardesses would have answered, endorsing both sides of the equation.

“These women almost to a person were kind of the black sheep of their families,” says Laurie Power, who flew for TWA for 29 years, beginning in 1963. “They left”—home, college, other jobs—“because they couldn’t stand the drudgery of everyday life, which was marriage or teaching, and washing on Monday and ironing on Tuesday. So life as a stewardess took on a more dramatic, rather more interesting scale.” In Power’s case, that would translate into invitations to parties thrown by big-shot Hollywood producers, to countless hotel and restaurant openings, and, once, to a cruise on a yacht owned by John Theodoracopulos, one of the richest men in Greece. “A bevy of flight attendants in any gathering was always a good thing,” she says. “A bunch of pretty girls sitting around a pool—people were always inviting us here and there and everywhere, because we were sort of like icing, I suppose.”

It would be only a slight overstatement to say that stewardesses in the 1960s were to glamour what firefighters and cops have more recently been to heroism. “We were almost on the same level as a movie star,” says Sonnie Sims. “People admired us when we walked through the terminal. I remember our uniforms—they were all custom-fitted. They were just sculpted to your body, so everybody looked fabulous. We were all thin and had these great figures and wore white gloves and hats. You walked through the terminals with your head really high and you knew everybody was staring at you.” Sex, of course, was part of the equation, crystallized by the publication in 1967 of Coffee, Tea or Me? Purporting to be the “naughty” and “uninhibited” memoirs of two stewardesses, the book—frank but not particularly salacious—sold more than a million copies and spawned three sequels. Its most commercially significant revelation: that some “stews” on some occasions had sex. No doubt the same could have been said about any group of young unmarried women, but most young unmarried women weren’t already pursuing a career in which they were winging their way to the farthest reaches of the globe—a mobility that was historically unprecedented for anyone, let alone America’s unchaperoned daughters. “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” says a former Pan Am stew recalling how one of her very first flights ended with a layover at a Lisbon beach hotel.

The prerequisites were largely the same no matter which airline you hoped to fly for: with rare exceptions, you needed to have two X chromosomes to be no younger than 20 and no older than 27 to be no shorter than five feet two inches or taller than five feet nine inches to have a slender, “well-proportioned” figure (as a United recruiter once explained, “We are not looking for the Jayne Mansfield type”) to not, in any case, weigh more than 140 pounds to agree to retire at the age of 32 to not currently be married (though it was permissible to be widowed or divorced) to not have children and to absolutely, positively not be pregnant. In short, you needed to be both desirable and, at least in theory, available.

Like starlets under contract to Louis B. Mayer’s MGM, stewardesses were told how to stand, how to walk, how to style their hair, how to make themselves up. Their “look” was as polished as the marble in a corporate lobby, and quality control was no joke: a woman who flew for TWA remembers that, aside from garden-variety infractions such as forgetting one’s hat or getting caught smoking in uniform, stewardesses could be suspended if their milky complexions were darkened or freckled by too much time in the sun. A former Eastern Air Lines stew recalls being plucked from a flight for having a bruise on her leg, as if she had been a damaged piece of fruit blighting a grocery-store display.

What they really were was bait, corporate geishas trained to please the male passengers who formed the bulk of the airlines’ passenger rolls—as much as 80 percent in the late 60s, by one estimate. An ad for United made the pitch with a frankness that would be disarming if it weren’t also appalling: “Every [passenger] gets warmth, friendliness and extra care. And someone may get a wife.” In fact, this was a two-way selling point: Eastern Air Lines, for one, boasted to potential stewardesses that its Miami-based flight-attendant training center was the “finest school for brides in the country.” In case you’re keeping score, some graduates did quite well for themselves. Henry Fonda’s fifth wife, Shirlee, was an American Airlines stewardess. Susan Gutfreund, the second wife of John Gutfreund, the former C.E.O. of Salomon Brothers, had briefly flown for Pan Am (as was invariably mentioned with a snide flourish in 1980s magazine articles recounting the couple’s greed-is-good excesses). The Sultan of Brunei, as you might expect, has an ex-stewardess wife.

On the one hand, stewardesses were placed on a pedestal on the other hand, not to put too fine a point on it, they were pimped. Feminists would point out that this is a dual role that pre-dates in-flight movies (which, by the way, were fleetingly introduced in the 1920s). But what about feminists who also happen to have been stewardesses? One such is Patricia Ireland. A lawyer, she was the president of the National Organization for Women from 1991 to 2001, but in the late 60s she had worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am. Yes, she says, the job “carried a certain prestige, but at the same time it was, you know, one step above cocktail-waitressing.” She cites her resentment at being forced to wear a girdle, which was then an industrywide requirement—“I thought there was no better prescription for varicose veins than to go in a pressurized cabin with the equivalent of rubber bands around your thighs”—as one of the seeds of her subsequent activism. (Before quitting, she also forced the airline to extend its health-insurance policies to stewardesses’ families.) And yet, she adds, “My concept of what women could do in the workplace was really very limited. . . . I look back now with awe at the blinders I had on, but it seemed to me at the time just the price of admission to the workplace in a job that was very exciting.” Or, as the authors of Coffee, Tea or Me? put it, “[We] were both from small towns and anxious to take a fling at the big, bad world. That’s true of most girls flying today.”

Were stewardesses the first lipstick feminists? Their definition of liberation may have been full of contradictions it may have been as much about glamour as it was self-determination it may have bought into traditional notions of femininity with a rigor surpassing that of any cake-baking, Redbook-reading housewife of the era—it may have been feminism as only a Gabor sister could understand it. Still, you could do worse in charting what happened to women over the last 40 years than by examining the lives of stewardesses.

Most airlines have flight-attendant alumni organizations with chipper yet wistful names evoking age, or flightlessness, or both. TWA and United have Clipped Wings clubs, Continental has the Golden Penguins, National has the Sun-downers, American the Kiwis (named, like the Penguins, for a flightless bird). If you attend a meeting or party given by one of these organizations, three things will happen. First, more than one still-slender, well-groomed woman in her 50s or 60s will ask if you need a drink. Second, you will meet at least one set of identical twins ex-stewardess ranks are full of them. This is because airlines used to like twins the way farmers used to like 300-pound zucchinis (boffo photo op). And third, you will hear a lot of stories, and among them will be some common themes:

The “coffee, tea, or me?” jokes got old awfully fast.

There wasn’t as much fooling around as you’d think.

But what you will hear more than anything else, over and over again, is how the very nature of air travel has devolved, how a mode of transportation that was once luxurious and exclusive—a “privilege,” some former stewardesses say—has become, even at its best, merely endurable. Once upon a time, you may be told, boarding a plane was such an event that stewardesses took souvenir Polaroids of passengers as if they were sailing on an ocean liner or catching a dinner show. Once, there were planes with piano lounges. Once, a first-class meal might have included turtle soup served from a tureen, Chateaubriand carved seatside, and cherries jubilee. Steaks would be cooked to order—eggs, too, on breakfast flights. This is a world that, for obvious reasons, is even harder to conjure after September 11. (Carving knives on an airplane?) There could be a Blanche DuBois quality to many in-flight reminiscences if most of these women hadn’t seen enough of life in the air to not be overly sentimental about it. For one thing, many former flight attendants will confess that, for all the bygone show, airline food was never any good—which isn’t to say they aren’t nostalgic about the days of dishing out lobster thermidor and Polynesian pork.

Sonnie Sims: “If you think about it, we’re paying almost the same amount of money to fly now as we were 30 years ago. Airfares really don’t go up that much.” In fact, in constant dollars, they’ve gone down. A peak-season round-trip ticket between New York and Paris went for $530 in 1967, or roughly $2,850 in 2002 dollars since there were no discount fares in 1967, it’s hard to make an exact comparison with today’s seemingly whimsical fare structures, but you should be able to buy an equivalent ticket for well under $1,500—less than $1,000 if you plan ahead.

“Now it’s like the Greyhound bus,” says Sims, employing a simile popular among flight attendants, typically used with the same beaten disdain the editors of W might evince if forced to work for J. C. Penney. “In the 60s, everybody dressed up. Going on an airplane was a special event. Now it’s just a mode of transportation. People get on wearing shower sandals and tank tops. And of course the service isn’t as fancy anymore, either. We’ve taken away the caviar and everything else to save money. That’s all to keep the fares down. People complain about it, but it’s all so they can travel cheaply. And so they get what they pay for.”

“Flying then was a lifestyle that can’t be replicated,” says Jane Rosenblum, a former Pan Am stew. “Our old first-class passengers now have their own planes. The old economy-class are now in first class. The rest of the world,” she adds, “simply didn’t fly.”

If the passengers formed an elite class, so too did the women passing out pillows and carving meat with cavalier innocence. In 1965 a 20-year-old chorus girl from the Copacabana confessed to Newsweek, “I’ve wanted to be an airline stewardess since I was 11.” She and “several dozen sleekly tailored and equally determined young women” were interviewed while preparing to meet recruiters for United. “Right now this job means more to me than a college degree,” she explained, “or even a spot in the line with the Rockettes at Radio City.” Thus was revealed the natural pecking order among glamour-pusses.

But if many were called, few were chosen: in 1958, the dawn of the jet age, only 3 to 5 of every 100 aspiring stewardesses got the job nine years later, TWA boasted that it hired fewer than 3 percent of its applicants—meaning it was easier for the class of 2006 to get into Harvard this year (the college’s acceptance rate was 10.5 percent) than it was to serve martinis over the Atlantic during the Johnson administration.

According to popular mythology, the airlines had distinct preferences when it came to their stewardesses. American and United were said to go for the girl-next-door or fraternity-sweetheart type. TWA and Pan Am, which flew international routes, supposedly went after the more sophisticated—or, in some eyes, snobby—sort of stewardess (or “air hostess,” the no less patronizing term TWA made a point of using). National, Braniff, and Pacific Southwest, smaller airlines with southern centers of gravity, were allegedly staffed by high-octane sexpots. As is often the case, there was some truth to the stereotypes: most of American’s stewardesses came from small towns in the South and Midwest, while Pan Am, which required knowledge of at least one foreign language, hired nearly as many European women as it did Americans. Some airlines asked for a year or two of college some didn’t.

Having survived the initial winnowing—aside from multiple interviews, the screening process might have included I.Q. and psychological tests (if only the F.B.I. were as thorough)—potential stewardesses were dispatched to training centers for what was typically a six-week course of instruction. The facilities could be quite lavish: some had swimming pools and tennis courts some were actually on the grounds of resorts. Given that their female charges had been selected for pheromonal impact, the schools had unique security issues. Most came equipped with curfews and guards. A few went further: the dorm-room balconies at Braniff’s International Hostess Training College in Dallas had cage-like bars, allegedly because too many would-be suitors had tried to scale them. Perhaps for similar reasons, American’s Stewardess College near Dallas was at one point surrounded by an eight-foot-high electrical fence. “One likes to think that the fence was to keep the intruders out, rather than the students in,” notes Wings of Excellence, a semi-official history of American’s flight-attendant corps. If you can conceive of a cross between Acapulco and a P.O.W. camp, that seems about right.

As for the curriculum, it was generally divided between safety training and this sort of thing, taken from the outline for a 1964 lecture at United’s training center:

Coat: 1. How to carry properly 2. How to put on properly.

Together Look: 1. Coat always buttoned 2. Wear gloves 3. Carry everything on one side if possible 4. Ways to carry purse 5. How to carry gloves 6. Scarf in summer raincoat.

Review: 1. Posture 2. Standing 3. Walking.

If this wasn’t enough to drive her mad, the fledgling stewardess would also be subjected to rigorous instruction from “grooming supervisors.” Some airlines had regulation shades of nail polish and lipstick: Revlon’s Persian Melon at TWA, for instance. At Braniff, false eyelashes were encouraged but not mandated. The stewardess author of Flying High, a 1970 guide for prospective flight attendants, describes being forced by her unnamed airline to wear “sickly green” eye shadow during training, “which tended to make those of us with faintly sallow skin look as if we had contracted hepatitis.”

A student would be assigned an ideal weight, based on her height and figure, from which the needle on her bathroom scale was not to budge—as pre-flight “weigh-ins” would later ensure—and even if she was on the gaunt side of well proportioned, as a young and bony Patricia Ireland discovered, she was forced into a girdle. The theory, as another woman phrases it: “At eye level, walking up and down the aisle, they wanted everybody to look smooth.” Supervisors routinely gave “girdle checks,” a procedure that consisted of flicking an index finger against a buttock. Perceptible jiggle meant failure—and a possible suspension.

For those lacking seniority, scheduling was unpredictable and erratic. Pay was lousy for everyone, forcing many women to sleep four or five to an apartment in dormlike “stew zoos.” “If you wanted to eat,” says a former flight attendant, “you had to find a boyfriend real quick.” In 1960, a stew starting out with American might have made, depending on her schedule, at best $4,000 a year—the equivalent of $24,400 today.

If women had enlisted to escape drudgery, they were disappointed to find plenty of it in the air. An Eastern stewardess described the job to Newsweek in 1968 as “food under your fingernails, sore feet, complaints and insults.” Another woman cited in the same article claimed to have tied a pedometer to her leg on a turnaround flight between Chicago and San Francisco by the end of the day, she had clocked 17 miles. “The only glamorous part of this job is walking through the terminal,” a third stewardess complained.

And then there were the situations for which no amount of training could prepare one. A TWA hostess was in the middle of the meal service on one of her first flights when she came to the seats of two men who were “fondling” each other without benefit of a blanket. “I had these two meal trays, and all I could think to say was ‘Would you like dinner now or later?’” A Pan Am stewardess remembers a flight with Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher while they were on their honeymoon. At some point the plane hit turbulence. “We wanted to check their seat belts, but we didn’t dare.” And why not? “They were under the blankets—use your imagination!” (As a general rule, even when retailing ribald anecdotes, former stewardesses maintain a Doris Day-like level of decorum.)

It is said that one is statistically more likely to die crossing the street or driving to a supermarket than in an airplane accident. Whether or not you take comfort in that when boarding a plane, it was decidedly not the case in 1930, when the first stewardesses in America, or anywhere else, were hired by Boeing Air Transport, a forerunner of United Airlines. At that time, passengers had to worry not only about frequent crashes but also about sudden drops of altitude, which, in unpressurized planes, could rupture one’s eardrums. That stewardesses were required to be registered nurses and were initially outfitted with white, hospital-style uniforms was intended to be comforting, to reassure nervous fliers that they wouldn’t spiral into a cornfield on the way to Grandma’s or the anvil salesmen’s convention (though one could just as easily imagine the medical motif having the opposite effect). It was also hoped that the fact that stewardesses were women would have a galvanizing effect on male passengers—not in the Coffee, Tea or Me? sense but rather: These girls are man enough to fly—what are you scared of

In terms of her more concrete functions, an air hostess’s duties in the early 30s might have included such pre-flight chores as loading baggage, dusting, making sure all the seats were screwed down tightly, and joining in a “bucket brigade” to fuel the plane. En route, she might have had to restrain passengers from throwing garbage and cigarette butts out open windows. These were not the glamour days that ex-stewardesses are so fond of talking about.

By the 1950s, after the introduction of faster, safer, and pressurized planes, flying had evolved into a much less dodgy proposition passenger complaints now had more to do with lost luggage than with getting killed. At some point during the decade, the number of air passengers in America first exceeded those who traveled by train in 1957, a similar tipping point came for transatlantic crossings by air versus sea. In those days, commercial aviation was highly regulated. Among other things, the government dictated where and when the airlines could fly and how much they could charge on transatlantic flights even the amount of legroom and the number and type of courses that could constitute a meal were prescribed by international agreement. (In 1958 there was a minor furor over what the word “sandwich” meant after Pan Am accused some of its European competitors of stretching the definition to include virtual smorgasbords.)

With innovation so creatively discouraged, there were few ways for airlines to distinguish themselves. This was when industry leaders began to realize that the very femaleness of stewardesses was a marketable asset. (Through the 1930s and 40s, many airlines had preferred hiring male stewards, partly in emulation of train and ocean-liner service.) As The Saturday Evening Post noted in 1954, “Because service is one of the chief areas of competition among the lines, the companies increasingly are stressing the importance of the girls.” That same year American became the first airline to impose the mandatory retirement age of 32, thereby hoping to ensure its stewardess corps’s ongoing pulchritude. It was, perhaps, a largely symbolic gesture, given that the average stewardess flew for only two years anyway, most of them quitting in order to get married—a high turnover rate that would last into the 1970s. Gwen Mahler, a former TWA hostess, is a statistical case in point: she started flying in 1955 at the age of 20, retiring a year later to marry a pilot she had met over a malted at New York’s LaGuardia Airport three months into the job. (She got the conversation rolling by admiring his uniform.) As for colleagues who took a more careerist approach, “I can remember thinking, Oh, this gal has been flying for four, five years? I wonder what’s wrong with her?”

It was on October 26, 1958, that Pan Am flew America’s first regularly scheduled commercial jet flight, its Boeing 707 taking off for Paris from New York’s Idlewild airport. By the early 60s all the major carriers were flying jets on their most significant routes. The fastest comparable propliner, the DC-7, took more than eight hours to get from New York to San Francisco or Los Angeles. A 707 made the same trip in a little over five hours.

Not only did jets offer a faster, quieter, and smoother ride (“You’ll be able to stand a half-dollar on edge. . . . You’ll be able to hear the ticking of a watch. The flower you bought when you left will be fresh when you arrive,” gushed an ad for the 707), jets were sexy in the same early-60s way that the Kennedy administration and James Bond movies were, all kept aloft by an atmosphere of sleekness, power, and Cold War technology. For those who could afford it, jet travel made the world accessible in a way we now take for granted—and have maybe even begun to fear a bit—but was intoxicating at the time. This was when the jet set was born, when the fanciful premise of Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me,” of casually floating down to Peru or sipping exotic booze in far Bombay on a whim, became a reality—at least for movie stars and international playboys.

This was the cultural breeze that lifted stewardesses to their apex as icons of glamour. Their uniforms had traditionally taken many of their stylistic cues from the military, but now it was time for something new in the air, and in 1965 the advertising executive Mary Wells persuaded Braniff International Airways to hire Emilio Pucci to redesign its stewardesses’ uniforms with his op-art patterns and palette of Lilly-Pulitzer-on-acid colors. He wasn’t the first name designer to dress stews (Oleg Cassini, for one, had created uniforms for TWA in the 50s), and he wasn’t being entirely fair when he observed that “most airplane stewardesses are dressed as if they were traveling by bus in the year 1925.” (Many stewardess uniforms were beautifully tailored and split an interesting difference between classicism and the stray space-age flourish.) But he was the first to take the implicit come-on of the stewardess’s role and bring it into line with the new decade’s louder, more in-your-face sensibility. The airline’s ads were soon smacking their lips: “Does your wife know you’re flying with us?” Braniff’s stock, which had been trading around $24, was goosed up to $120.

“We were envious of the Braniff uniforms,” admits one former Pan Am stewardess, who along with her sisters was still stuck in wool suits that looked like “something Tippi Hedren might have worn” (as V.F. contributing editor Laura Jacobs once put it). The owners of Braniff’s rivals were certainly envious of its stock price, and soon every carrier’s stewardesses had to have modish uniforms. Hems went up, colors got bolder, fabrics became more oil-based. United’s new outfit was punctuated by a bright orange hat that looked like a cross between a jockey’s cap and a mailbox. National promoted “uniforms that purr,” with hats and jackets made of simulated tiger fur—allegedly designed with the input of the stews themselves. The nadir, arguably, was the paper uniforms TWA introduced in 1968 to promote certain of its destinations. They came in four styles: a Roman toga, a faux-lamé miniskirt that was meant to represent Paris, “penthouse pajamas” from Manhattan, and an English “serving wench” getup. The ads promised “the end of routine travel with hostesses to match,” and this proved to be true, since there was nothing routine about watching a flight attendant whip out a roll of masking tape to repair her uniform, or, worse, catch on fire. (The uniforms’ manufacturer had quickly run through its supply of nonflammable paper). The promotion lasted just seven or eight months.

The airlines’ advertising agencies also followed the Braniff lead. Pan Am’s radio commercials asked, “How do you like your stewardesses?,” as if they themselves were the cuts of meat they were cooking to order. Continental, which had long painted its planes with splashes of gold, introduced the slogan “The Proud Bird with the Golden Tail.” Since the airline’s stewardesses were dressed in golden uniforms, this was widely perceived as a clumsy double entendre in the new sex-sells climate.

This was the era of the swinging stew, first enshrined in popular culture by the 1965 play Boeing-Boeing, in which a bachelor—played by Tony Curtis in the same year’s film version—juggles three unwitting stewardess girlfriends, thanks to the miracle of dovetailing flight schedules. The subsequent success of Coffee, Tea or Me? in 1967 prompted its paperback publisher, Bantam, to exhume a dud airline novel from 1960 and republish it as The Fly Girls with a new front cover featuring half-dressed hostesses and back-cover copy that pretty much defines the narrow genre of stew lit: “Underneath their uniforms, they were simply girls—warm, soft, yielding creatures who lived too fast and loved too recklessly. Everyone thought they were such angels. . . . They didn’t know about those passionate nights in those strange hotel rooms such a long, long way from home . . . ”

Occasional public scandals involving stewardesses and other airline personnel only served to enhance their image as Playmates with wings. At a 1962 presentation on flight safety for Congress, a TWA flight engineer showed pictures he had taken with a hidden camera of, in newspaper columnist Jack Anderson’s description, pilots “cavorting with stewardesses in flight.” Flight attendants periodically made headlines by being arrested for prostitution. Was there a natural affinity between the two professions? A lawyer for five such women explained the connection to The New York Times in 1971: stewardesses “meet men easily and are able to see them in the afternoon.” But a flight attendant defended her colleagues against the “unfair” aspersions: “If you took all the secretaries in the Empire State Building, the percentage [also getting paid to have sex] would be about the same.”

When quizzed about the “swinging” issue, former stewardesses roll their eyes with the politest annoyance imaginable, much the way the president of a sorority house might if asked to give a disquisition on binge drinking. Oh, it may have gone on. There may have been certain “types” who went in for that sort of thing—can we talk about our charitable work now? “Well, there was as much as you wanted, that’s for sure,” says a former stewardess, the “much” being male companionship. “But among my colleagues,” she continues, “very few of them took as many chances as I did. They were more gently reared, I suppose.” Indeed, the general sense you get after talking to dozens of stewardesses is that the profession’s libidinal reputation has been oversold, an impression shared by previous reporters: as the Saturday Review assured readers in 1971, flight attendants had been “badly misjudged” and were decidedly not “vixens.”

But special mention must be made of the stewardess-pilot relationship. The airplane was a workplace in which hierarchy, thanks to the gender divide, was infused with a jolt of sex—always a provocative dynamic, as doctors and nurses will also tell you. “Back in the 60s, we were just stupid,” says Kay Moran Tolhoek, who flew for Eastern for five years, beginning in 1962. “These captains would hit on these flight attendants right out of Arkansas or some damned place, and they’d end up having affairs for six, seven, eight years. And you knew the captain wasn’t going to divorce his wife. The majority of them were just fooling around, and it really was the naïve girls that these captains zeroed in on.”

“I suppose there is as high an incidence of stewardesses involved in an affair with the married captain as there is of secretaries who have affairs with their married bosses,” writes the author of Flying High. “You are not fated to have a mad affair with a married pilot if you become an airline stewardess, but if you want to, you can certainly find an attractive one to have it with.” Attractive, maybe, but not likely a big spender: to this day, pilots are saddled with an industrywide reputation for skinflintiness and a bent toward tackier forms of moonlighting. One representative anecdote, which may put the eroticism of the pilot-stew relationship in perspective: A former stewardess remembers inviting a captain back to her place for what she thought would be a “hot date.” Instead, he arrived with Amway samples.

The 1970s proved to be as awkward a decade for air travel as they were for everything else in which taste is a consideration. A quick way to chart the industry’s growing glamour gap: In the 1970 film Airport, the stewardess heroine was played by Jacqueline Bisset, a renowned European beauty. In Airport 1975, the equivalent role went to Karen Black—as fine an actress, but also the one who could just as convincingly play a Denny’s waitress.

Reflecting the times, the airlines’ advertising was becoming increasingly crude. “It was really quite unbecoming,” says Laurie Power, “but it was part of that era, when they had nothing else left to sell. Everybody had movies, everybody had multi-course meal services, everybody had everything, you know—what else could they do?” Marketing studies said essentially the same thing. And so it was in 1971 that National introduced a slogan that soon became infamous (at least among stewardesses, who hated it): “I’m Linda [or Cheryl or whoever]. Fly me.” Building on the momentum of its “Proud Bird with the Golden Tail” campaign, Continental now boasted that “we really move our tail for you.” Reinforcing this message with unintended synergy was the 1969 film The Stewardesses, a soft-core drive-in favorite in which it was revealed that stewardesses spent their free time trying on bras, showering, and practicing yoga poses in the nude.

All of this had a cost. The sex sell, according to Laurie Power, “subtly changed the attitude of passengers toward flight attendants. Instead of it being kind of a cachet to go out with a flight attendant, it became ‘Let’s see who can get the flight attendant for sport.’” She remembers carrying a tray of dirty glasses up the aisle when a passenger stuck his business card into a half-filled wineglass with the invitation “Here, honey. Call me.” Pinching incidents, and worse, were on the upswing. “We’re the cat’s scratching pole” is how a Braniff stew put it at the time.

Perhaps this was all a male-chauvinist rearguard action, because stewardesses and their union, now known as the Association of Flight Attendants, were at the same time pressing legal battles that would transform the job from a two-year adventure into an actual career. Using the leverage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, federal courts in 1968 had struck down the rules forbidding marriage and forcing thirtysomethings into retirement. In 1970, restrictions against flight attendants’ being pregnant were, under pressure, voluntarily withdrawn by many airlines. And in 1971, in the decision that would arguably do the most to put an end to the “coffee, tea, or me?” era, the Supreme Court ruled that airlines could not discriminate against men.

The stewardess was now, officially, a flight attendant. (By 1986, men would make up 14 percent of United Airlines’ cabin crews, to give one example.) Among other things, this change professionalized the job in a way that no amount of feminist critique ever could have, since no one of either sex likely wanted to see male flight attendants in paper serving-wench outfits.


American Airlines fires flight attendant who posted satirical videos

American Airlines has fired a longtime flight attendant for what it says were advertisements by airline rivals and passenger travel itineraries posted on his private website in violation of company policy.

Gailen David, the flight attendant, says the airline fired him on Wednesday because of satirical videos he posted about it.

Videos created by David since Fort Worth-based American and its parent filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 29 made him something of an Internet sensation. Five years ago, he created the Sky Steward (www.dearskysteward.com) to offer travel advice and information.

“In its [bankruptcy] restructuring, American sent a letter to employees laced with insincere patronizing remarks,” David said Thursday in a phone interview from his home in Miami. “That’s when I decided to make a video where I was in drag and pretending to be an American Airlines executive.”

In the six-plus-minute video, which is on YouTube and the Sky Steward site, David is dressed as a woman playing the role of vice president of flight attendants in a parody of restructuring plans American presented to employees.

David, who has been an American flight attendant for 24 years, has been on unpaid medical leave for stress for nearly two years since experiencing an emergency plane landing in Phoenix.

American says David wasn’t fired because of his videos.

“After publishing the private travel details of American Airlines passengers and continuing to promote our competitors through advertisements on his website, flight attendant Gailen David has been terminated,” said American spokesman Bruce Hicks.

“He has repeatedly failed to adhere to our policies,” Hicks said. “We take our passengers’ privacy seriously and will not allow employees to violate that trust.”

In a Wednesday memo obtained by The Dallas Morning News, American noted that David had been counseled in August on the company's "conflict of interest and social media policies" in relation to his business and website.

The memo also stated that David’s actions violated American’s “Rules of Conduct 24: Consider the welfare of the company and your fellow employees. Perform no act that is detrimental to either.”

David acknowledged that his website has been an issue with American.

“They were very upset,” David said. “They didn’t like the fact that I developed the Sky Steward. They kind of left me alone, but every once in a while they contacted me and asked me to remove something they considered disparaging about American.

“I posted a photo of a woman with her feet up in the Admirals Club and [American] wanted it down” he said. “That’s the type of tit-for-tat I’ve had with American over the social media.”

David also acknowledged that he took the ads and photo down, and has since reposted them to his website. He maintains that American “never said a word to me about ads on my site being a conflict of interest.”

David said the passenger information he published on the Sky Steward was given to him by another American employee about former American executives and board members who were traveling on “first-class company passes that were tax-free.”

The union representing American flight attendants filed a termination grievance Thursday on behalf of David, saying the action was groundless and seeking his reinstatement.

“We would do this for any flight attendant — we’re going to support them and we’re going to fight for their rights,” said Dane Townsend-Pepper, a spokeswoman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “We feel that he and any employee has the right to express their opinion and express their free speech rights.”

The APFA and other unions at American face increasing pressure from the airline to quicken contract talks to move along its bankruptcy case. Last month, American outlined major changes for all employees under its bankruptcy reorganization, including plans to cut about 13,000 jobs, reduce benefits and change work rules.

The union called David “a folk hero within the APFA community.”

Two weeks ago, the APFA’s board of directors unanimously approved a resolution supporting David and any other members who “appropriately exercise their speech rights in an attempt to promote dialogue regarding the critical situation that Flight Attendants are facing at American Airlines utilizing respectful parody or serious discourse.”

The resolution also states that American flight attendants have “the right to express their concerns and criticism of the company business model and misguided operation.”


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"If the passengers would understand what it takes to get a meal onboard," says Walder, "they would never complain."

Todd English's Chilled Black Olive Spaghetti Salad
Serves 4-6

Made at home, this'll hold up well for a plane. Pick up a knife and fork after you pass security.

1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped capers
2 cups pitted black olives, such as Calamata, Gaeta or oil-cured black olives
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
Shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the spaghetti. Cook until tender, drain well and rinse under cold water. Set aside. Place a medium-size skillet over medium heat and when hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic, capers and olives, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Transfer the olive mixture to a food processor and while it's running, gradually add the remaining oil, salt, pepper and vinegar. Process until completely smooth. Add the olive oil paste and basil to the spaghetti and serve immediately with shaved Parmesan cheese.


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United flight attendants protest over labor contract

United Airlines flight attendants, some in uniform, braved the blistering heat outside Bush Intercontinental Airport on Thursday to protest labor contract negotiations that have lingered in the wake of the carrier's merger with Continental Airlines five years ago.

About 100 people lined John F. Kennedy Boulevard and chanted, "What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!"

Flight attendants, working under pre-merger contracts, have been negotiating a joint contract for three years.

"It's time for us to be recognized for our hard work and for our sacrifices," said Steve Ekerberg, a Boston-based United flight attendant and strategic campaign lead with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

Houston was one of 18 places worldwide participating in the protest. The Association of Flight Attendants represents about 24,000 United workers, about 4,000 of whom are in Houston.

Before the airlines merged, Continental and its subsidiary Continental Micronesia were represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. United was represented by the Association of Flight Attendants. The latter union now represents all flight attendants in the merged airline.

1 of 9 Hannah Meek, 10, joins her parents, Shannon Meek and Chris Meek, who have both been United Airlines flight attendants for 18 years, during a protest Thursday near Bush Intercontinental Airport. Mayra Beltran/Staff Show More Show Less

2 of 9 Lisa Schultz, a flight attendant for 26 years, joins fellow United Airlines flight attendants in protesting on Thursday near Bush Intercontinental Airport. Mayra Beltran/Staff Show More Show Less

3 of 9 United Airlines Flight Attendant Andrea Chisholm joins the protest near the entrance to George Bush Intercontinental Airport joining flight attendants around the world to support of negotiations for a fair contract on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Houston. ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle ) Mayra Beltran/Staff Show More Show Less

4 of 9 United Airlines Flight Attendants protest near the entrance to George Bush Intercontinental Airport joining flight attendants around the world to support of negotiations for a fair contract on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Houston. ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle ) Mayra Beltran/Staff Show More Show Less

5 of 9 United Airlines Flight Attendants protest near the entrance to George Bush Intercontinental Airport joining flight attendants around the world to support of negotiations for a fair contract on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Houston. ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle ) Mayra Beltran/Staff Show More Show Less

6 of 9 United Airlines Flight Attendant Mary Stanley joins the protest near the entrance to George Bush Intercontinental Airport joining flight attendants around the world to support of negotiations for a fair contract on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Houston. ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle ) Mayra Beltran/Staff Show More Show Less

7 of 9 A supporter flashes a sign in solidarity for United Airlines Flight Attendants protesting near the entrance to George Bush Intercontinental Airport joining flight attendants around the world to support of negotiations for a fair contract on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Houston. ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle ) Mayra Beltran/Staff Show More Show Less

8 of 9 Hannah Meek, 10, and Dillon Meek, 9, join their parents Shannon Meek and Chris Meek, who have both been United Airlines Flight Attendants for 18 years, during a protest outside George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Houston. ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle ) Mayra Beltran/Staff Show More Show Less

9 of 9 United Airlines Flight Attendant Carolyn Frels joins fellow United Airline flight attendants in protest outside George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Houston. ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle ) Mayra Beltran/Staff Show More Show Less

Because of the pre-merger contracts, flight attendants are in different scheduling systems. Molly Sheerer, a spokeswoman with the Association of Flight Attendants, said this is causing IT, scheduling and hotel issues. Sometimes, flight attendants are made to wait hours before getting into their hotel rooms.

"One of the biggest things causing inefficiencies is the fact that they don't have a joint contract," she said.

Two hackers have scored a million frequent-flier miles each on United Airlines for finding security holes in the airline's computer systems.

The awards were made under a security program that United started in May. Technology companies have offered so-called bug bounties, but they are unusual in the transportation industry.

United spokesman Luke Punzenberger said Thursday that two people have received the maximum award of 1 million miles each and others got smaller awards. A million miles is enough for several first-class trips to Asia or up to 20 round-trips in the U.S.

Punzenberger declined to say what kinds of flaws the hackers found but said their information had been turned over to company researchers. "We're confident that our systems are secure," he said.

Chicago-based United has suffered several major problems with technology systems since 2012, when it switched passenger-reservations and other systems over to those that had been used at its smaller merger partner, Houston-based Continental Airlines. Last week, all United flights were briefly grounded and more than 1,000 delayed after one such breakdown, which the airline blamed on a faulty computer router. A smaller outage occurred in June.

Carrier pays miles to hackers who found IT flaws

United spokesman Luke Punzenberger said in a statement, "We are disappointed that we have not yet reached a joint agreement with the AFA (Association of Flight Attendants), but remain committed to working with the union to reach an agreement and are actively engaged at the table."

In a negotiations update July 15, United said it had reached a tentative agreement on significant parts of a new contract.

United has reached four separate collective agreements with flight attendants since 2011. It has reached joint agreements with other unions representing employees such as pilots, dispatchers, customer service and reservation agents, ramp service employees and others.

"AFA and United don't yet agree on the economics, but the notion that United is asking flight attendants to 'pay for the merger' or proposing a 'concessionary' contract is just plain false," the negotiations update said. "The company has stated in clear terms - with a detailed economic framework and financial analysis to back it up - that it is prepared to provide our flight attendants with an industry-leading joint agreement."

Sheerer said flight attendants want job security, better hotel standards, a better scheduling system and more.

They also want to make more money in light of United reporting a record first-quarter profit of $582 million, or $1.52 per diluted share, excluding $74 million of special items.

Bill Bux, a Houston-based employment lawyer with Locke Lord, said three years is a long time to negotiate a contract. However, there are a lot of underlying issues that can affect the bargaining table.

When bringing two unions together, people will sometimes lose seniority or other rights. This affects flight routes, work schedules and on-call duties.

He also said union members, who made concessions during the economic downturn, will want to share in United's profits.

"When times are good, it's time to make up and share in the wealth," he said.


Make Fabio Viviani's stuffed Italian cannelloni

The celebrity chef and restaurateur shares his pasta recipe, which includes two different sauces.

Rep. Karen Bass 'hopeful' about passing police reform as negotiations intensify

As the anniversary of George Floyd's death approaches, negotiations over police reform have intensified after lawmakers revealed Congress will miss the Tuesday deadline to pass federal legislation -- a target President Joe Biden and top legislators were hoping to meet. Biden, in his joint address to Congress in April, urged lawmakers to bring the police reform bill to his desk to sign into law by the anniversary of Floyd's death. Watch "After Floyd: The Year that Shook the World -- A Soul of a Nation Special" Tuesday, May 25, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

How to see the 'Super Flower Blood Moon,' 1st lunar eclipse of this decade

This week's full moon will be the second supermoon of the season, appearing brighter and larger than usual. According to the Farmer's Almanac, the "Flower Blood Moon" will be roughly 222,000 miles away from the Earth early Wednesday morning. May's full moon is known as the "Flower Moon," and because a total lunar eclipse -- also known as a "blood moon" as it gives the moon a reddish hue -- is also set to happen at the same time, it's being called the "Super Flower Blood Moon."

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2 dead, 12 injured in New Jersey birthday party shooting

An outdoor birthday party at a southern New Jersey home ended in a barrage of gunfire Saturday night that left two people dead and 12 injured, police said. A massive search for the unidentified assailant continued Sunday morning in Cumberland County, where the mass shooting broke out at a large home in Bridgeton, New Jersey, near Fairfield, just before midnight, prompting party revelers to dive for cover or run for their lives. A 30-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman were fatally shot, and a dozen other injured adults were taken to hospitals, including one in critical condition, according to the New Jersey State Police.

Ryanair flight forced to land in Belarus with top activist on board

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GOP Sen. Susan Collins supports Jan. 6 commission, but has 2 'resolvable' issues

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Israel-Hamas cease-fire put US in position 'to building something more positive': Blinken

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Suspect in custody after 2 dead, 8 injured in Minneapolis shooting

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Man investigating dogs barking overnight finds dead body in ditch near his home

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Mother of 6-year-old killed in California road rage shooting pleads for justice: 'It feels like my life is over'

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Suspect arrested in investigation of alleged hate crime attack outside Los Angeles restaurant

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Kevin Spacey books 1st film role following sexual assault allegations

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Repatriating refugees at Syrian camp could stem ISIS resurgence: US general

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Husband charged in death of missing Connecticut mom hours after her body was found

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Biden to meet with George Floyd's family 1 year after his death as policing bill stalls

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Flight attendant who denied unopened soda can to Muslim will no longer serve United customers

United Airlines apologized again Wednesday for an incident involving a passenger who claimed she was discriminated against when she was denied an unopened can of Diet Coke on a flight.

The flight attendant who refused to give a Muslim an unopened can of soda because she said it could be used “as a weapon” will receive additional sensitivity training before returning to her position, but will not serve United Airlines customers in the future, her employer said.

The dispute arose Friday after Tahera Ahmad, a Muslim American chaplain at Northwestern University, claimed she was told she couldn’t have the unopened can of Diet Coke she requested because passengers “may use it as a weapon” on the plane.

When the man sitting next to her received an unopened can of beer, Ahmad said she protested. A fellow passenger then allegedly yelled, “You Muslim, you need to shut the … up,” and said that “You know you would use it as a weapon.”

Ahmad was wearing a hijab on the flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C., according to Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, which is representing Ahmad in the dispute and held a joint press conference with her Wednesday. Both the pilot and the flight attendant apologized to Ahmad after the flight, she said.

Both United Airlines and the company that was operating the flight initially characterized it as a “misunderstanding regarding a can of diet soda,” a statement Ahmad and others pilloried on social media as trivializing. United says it has apologized to Ahmad, and will also be sending her a written apology.

“United does not tolerate behavior that is discriminatory – or that appears to be discriminatory – against our customers or employees,” the company said in the statement. Employees at United and Shuttle America, the company that employed the flight attendant and was operating the flight, already undergo annual cultural sensitivity training, the airline said.

In a statement Wednesday, Republic Airways Holdings, which owns Shuttle America, said it “deeply regrets the poor judgment and lack of sensitivity” the flight attendant demonstrated toward Ahmad. Both companies say they have opened investigations into the incident, and Republic Airways Holdings says it is “confident that this is an isolated incident.” Officials there are reviewing company training policies, Republic Airways said, and are “in the process” of reaching out to Ahmad to apologize.

There is no policy barring flight attendants from providing full, unopened beverage cans to customers upon request, Republic Airways Holdings said, and no policy regarding speculation as to how passengers may use the can.

The flight attendant has been “removed from United Express flying,” Republic Airways said, and will receive additional sensitivity training before being allowed to fly elsewhere in the airline’s network, which also includes Delta, American Eagle, and US Airways flights.

The story of Ahmad’s encounter spread quickly after she wrote about it in an angry Facebook post published mid-air. The conversation quickly escalated, with many commenters using the hashtags #IslamophobiaISREAL and #UnitedforTahera to express their frustration and threatening to boycott United.

In a press conference Wednesday, Rehab called the confrontation “an act of discrimination that must be taken seriously,” and said the airlines have “failed to acknowledge the blatant and egregious nature” of Ahmad’s treatment.

Rehab told The Times that while United’s statement Wednesday was a “good first step,” he and Ahmad are not satisfied yet with the response. “Our goal is to ensure this doesn’t happen again, it isn’t to get any money, it isn’t to get anybody fired,” Rehab said. He added that CAIR-Chicago and Ahmad have requested a meeting with United officials, and are still considering legal action.

In a statement, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro called the flight attendant’s behavior “unprofessional and humiliating,” and urged United to promise it would train its staff to prevent similar events in the future. Schapiro said Ahmad is “one of the few female Muslim chaplains in the country, and an esteemed leader in our community.”

Ahmad’s experience joins a list of confrontations in which Muslim Americans have alleged harassment or discrimination while flying. In February, a Muslim American woman wearing a hijab said she was harassed by a passenger who told her, “This is America.” An airline employee on board moved her and her children to the back of the plane to “defuse the situation,” Darlene Hider told Buzzfeed, and threatened to remove her husband and other passengers when they rushed to defend her. A Delta spokesman told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that the airline has “completed a full investigation of the incident” and is committed to diversity.

Abed Ayoub, an attorney for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Hider’s brother, says they are considering bringing a civil suit on Hider’s behalf and filing a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In 2011, a U.S. citizen and graduate student at San Jose State University was ordered off an AirTran flight from Washington to Orlando, Fla., detained in the airport, and refused passage by the airline after being questioned and cleared by the FBI because of comments one of them made about airline safety had made two teenage passengers suspicious. Dr. Kashif Irfan, a U.S. citizen born in Detroit, told the Los Angeles Times then that he felt his family was being profiled because the women wore headscarves and the men had beards.

The airline apologized to the family, and also called it a “misunderstanding.”


Watch the video: Αεροσυνοδός της British Airways σχολιάζει σε βίντεο τα.. πέη των Νιγηριανών και απολύεται (July 2022).


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