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Equality denied boarding at Aeroflot?

News reaches us from Russia, that, despite 70 years of Leninism and now an assault by the Cultural Marxists, notions of equality do not appear to be taking off at Aeroflot, reportedly with a fleet of newish aircraft, now Russia most powerful ‘brand’ (surely ‘Kalashnikov’, but I digress).

Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot is fighting a legal battle with several of its female flight attendants who say it favours slim and attractive cabin crew.

One case has been thrown out of court. The concept of someone actually needing to be up to the job appears to have survived in Russia.

The company argues that every extra kilogram of weight forces Aeroflot to spend more on fuel.
Its application form for would-be flight attendants requires details of height, weight and clothing size.
Staff have to meet a minimum height requirement because they need to store hand luggage in the overhead lockers, Aeroflot says.

The fuel penalty was quoted as every extra kilogram of weight costing an extra 800 roubles (£11; $14) annually on fuel, but Aeroflot has other points.

‘…a survey carried out for Aeroflot showed that passengers preferred attractive flight attendants and agreed that an airline had a right to stipulate weight limits and clothes sizes for its staff.

Perish the thought that the fat and the short are not wanted, it’s all down to job-need.

In one case, the complaint is stark.

Ms Ierusalimskaya, aged 45, wants Aeroflot to pay her 1m roubles (£14,000; $17,750) in compensation, Russia’s Kommersant news reports. Her clothes size is 52 (XL, under the international system).
She said the airline had transferred her to domestic flights, cutting her income. She complained that Aeroflot’s rules required stewardesses to be at least 160cm (5ft 3ins) tall and have a clothes size no larger than 48 (L; 16 in UK; 42 in Germany; 14 in US).

Aeroflot’s point of view:

“A heavy physical build makes it harder for a flight attendant to move around the cabin and provide a smooth service for the passenger,” an Aeroflot official told the court.

Quite, you can’t have stewardesses so wide that they would need to be punted down the aisle with a trolley, that’s just not safe.

But a Russian Trade Unionist, helpfully called Boris, is on the warpath.

Boris Kravchenko called Ms Ierusalimskaya’s case “an unprecedented case of sex discrimination”. He is a member of President Vladimir Putin’s Council for Human Rights, and chairs the Russian Labour Confederation.
“The trade unions in this sector have teeth,” he said, warning of possible strike action “if such discriminatory behaviour persists”. He was speaking to Russia’s RBC news website.

Boris is keeping rather quiet about what happened to women with Beria it seems.

Now does this resistance to PC blandishments augur well for Russia, in that it might have a cultural meta-context where, if other silly and evil notions of statism and/or banditry can be got rid of, it might lay the basis of a free and prosperous commonwealth? And are we in the West closer to that goal?

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23 comments to Equality denied boarding at Aeroflot?

  • Paul Marks

    Actually I take this the other way – i.e. that demented Western (i.e. Frankfurt School of Marxism) “anti discrimination laws” are taking root in Russia – yes the courts may be a farce now (doing whatever Mr Putin tells them to do), but the fact that these “laws” are on the books at all is bad.

  • Laird

    And to bolster Paul’s point, there’s the fact that the “trade unionist” Mr Ed cited sits on “President Vladimir Putin’s Council for Human Rights”. The every existence of such a Council is a bad sign.

  • Lee Moore

    From my experience on British Airways, this case has already been fought in the UK and the Russian shot putter build girls won it. There was presumably another case in which a straight male was denied a job as a flight attendant and claimed discrimination challenging the requirement that all male BA flight attendants be not only gay, but camp to Are You Being Served standard. He lost.

    Incidentally, not to stick even remotely to the subject, Mrs Moore – who is small and slim, but who always flies with the quantity of luggage that a 19th century explorer of Africa would have hired a village of bearers to carry – believes that airlines should operate a luggage allowance system that includes the weight of the passenger. Since I weigh a suitcase and a half more than her, she resents paying the same as me for a ticket. Bitterly.

  • I am so glad Beria ended up getting the same treatment he meted out to others. Not only was he condemned for “treason” and shot but the NKVD excelled itself in making him an unperson. A western journalist (Rene MacColl IIRC) who chanced to be visiting saw that the photo of Stalin and friends in the Metropole Hotel had what looked (appropriately 🙂 ) like a ghostly exhalation where Beria had been hastily scrubbed out overnight. He wondered who was that smiling young man standing next to Stalin in a street poster – and then realised they had painted another figure over Beria’s. In another street he was baffled who the woman in the large hat was in a pictured group with Stalin – till he realised that Beria had changed sex in death. (Such sexual humiliation could not have happened to a more deserving target.) Soviet encyclopaedias were relentlessly sought out and altered, the article on Beria being replaced with one on the Bering Sea.

    Putin seems mild by comparison – though I note another dissident has died in Russia (from the effects of a beating received a few months ago – perpetrators uncaught of course). I would prefer any “human rights” official in Russia to investigate such matters, not stewardess sizes.

    I think this is one of many things that Ms Ierusalimskaya could reflect upon to realise she has little to complain about. Her width problem (which appears considerable if I’m reading those sizes aright) could be solved by a little dieting, which might improve her life expectancy, never mind her earnings. I appreciate her height problem is not so easily solved – if she has one, that is (the quotes seem unclear on whether she is under 5’3″). If she is under 5’3″, that is all the more reason to address her width problem.

  • Roué le Jour

    In other news, Billy Bunter sues Clean As A Whistle chimney cleaners for refusing him a job citing blatant girthism.

  • Alisa

    …“President Vladimir Putin’s Council for Human Rights”. The every existence of such a Council is a bad sign.

    I hope that this does not confuse anyone into thinking that such organizations are in any way similar to their Western versions – because in spite of their names, they are nothing more than Potemkin entities, with the sole purpose of their existence being to present Putin’s Russia as enlightened and Western-like (only much better, of course). No one in Russia takes them seriously, as far as I can tell, although I am sure their employees do feel the need to justify their salaries by making various Western-PC pronouncements as was done in this case. So yes, it is a bad sign, but not of what someone in the West might imagine.

  • Alisa

    …the requirement that all male BA flight attendants be not only gay, but camp to Are You Being Served standard.

    Lee, you are joking, right? Right?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Lee, you are joking, right? Right?

    That “presumably” gives his game away.
    (Though, at first reading, i felt unsure that that word means what Lee thinks it means.)

  • the other rob

    Just as Lenin would propose resolutions against banditry, while sending Korba to knock off a bullion train, I suspect that this is merely a typical Russian case of saying one thing while doing another.

    Nevertheless, it’s a black day for chubby chasers everywhere.

  • Mr Ed

    Paul and Laird,

    I side with Alisa in thinking that this Council for Human Rights and the law is window dressing, perhaps for amusement and also (another) stick to beat targets of opportunity in Mr Putin’s Russia.

    I have a list of happy customers of the Council for Human Rights, the link is here. 😉

    I note that the BBC have not noticed that there is no mention of male air stewards in Aeroflot. Presumably they do have some, but don’t worry about what they weigh.

    Can you imagine the media fuss and the ‘rush to apologise‘ from a CEO if this had been a British, American or Canadian airline?

  • Alisa

    Thanks Snorri, I seem to have missed that bit – oh well.

  • What often gets missed from these stories is that these overweight, frumpy old women now complaining about discrimination only got the job in the first place because they used to be young, pretty, slim, and not so bitter. It’s less justice for all and more pulling the ladder up after them.

  • Presumably they do have some, but don’t worry about what they weigh.

    They do. The stewards worry about what they way, if you know what I mean, so their employer doesn’t have to.

  • Lee Moore

    That “presumably” gives his game away.
    (Though, at first reading, i felt unsure that that word means what Lee thinks it means.)

    Is this yet another bit of education I’ve missed out on ? What does “presumably” mean, that’s deeper than “I presume” ?

  • PersonFromPorlock

    If Aeroflot has stewards as well as stewardesses, that pretty much blows their ‘weight’ argument away; not that it deserved much respect in the first place.

  • Watchman

    I’m reminded of an observation of my dad’s about flying in the old USSR – every plane had two stewardesses, one thin blond in her twenties, and one dark-haired thickset field athlete candidate in her fourties; he assumed something happened in their thirties to transform them (and keep them off planes). My mum (with perhaps some cynicism, at least from my point of view looking back at this) identified this thing as having children, although it must be a Russian genetic peculiarity that it changes hair colour.

    So it is possible this is simply Aeroflot wanting to employ only the early stage of the Russian air hostess, before she undergoes metamorphosis? In which case this may or may not be some form of discrimination, but it is probably a crime against nature and the narrative of stereotypes.

  • Alisa

    Watchman, that’s easy: the older and less-appealing gal was a minder for the young and attractive one – not that it necessarily negates your supposition.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Lee: i did say “at first reading”. That should have given MY game away: at 2nd reading, i was sure, or almost sure, that “presumably” was used in its original meaning.
    (It helps that i have had to learn to detect British irony in everyday conversation — most of the time.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    Of course extra height also means extra weight; plus, shorter men might find tall women intimidating, thus less attractive. So it’s a trade-off between weight and ability to store luggage in overhead lockers. Alternatively, flight attendants can wear platform shoes before takeoff and after landing, taking them off during flight.

    Do i need to give an irony alert?

  • bobby b

    “Lee, you are joking, right? Right?”

    I thought it was hilarious. I’ve flown with those attendants.

  • David Bishop

    December 1973, Aeroflot KUL-LHR (via Moscow)

    At the stand, prior to take-off, one of many beefy Russian engineers from the Indonesian oil fields on his way home was smoking near the rear of the aircraft (Il-62 or ‘VC10ski’). The flight attendants were all massive women, bulging out of their uniforms, minimal make-up and hair awry, who looked as if they’d give Tamara Press real competition. One of them yelled at him from the front of the aircraft to put it out. He heard but ignored her. Big mistake. She strode down the aisle, snatched the cigarette out of his hand and stubbed it out with a glare that would have subdued a charging bull. He cowered, beaten.

    The attendants on the flight from Moscow to London were utterly different: smart, svelte and charming.

  • Lee Moore

    every plane had two stewardesses, one thin blond in her twenties, and one dark-haired thickset field athlete candidate in her fourties; he assumed something happened in their thirties to transform them (and keep them off planes). My mum (with perhaps some cynicism, at least from my point of view looking back at this) identified this thing as having children, although it must be a Russian genetic peculiarity that it changes hair colour.

    I think it’s just the long term effect of a diet of potatoes. It’s very common to find in poor nutrition countries (which the Soviet Union certainly was) that the young are slim, the middle aged are fat, and the old are dead. That’s what starch does, and starch is a cheap source of food.

    The change of hair colour is a second order effect. Once the waistline has gone, there’s little point in wasting money on hair dye. Or in a command economy, where hair dye can only be obtained by sleeping with the manager of the hair dye depot, you’re going to do better when you look like Anna Kournikova than when you look like Tamara Press.

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