A Moscow court has dismissed a lawsuit by Russian flight attendants who had sued Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot, for discrimination. The airline had imposed regulations governing stewardess’ weight, height and clothing sizes.
Several Aeroflot flight attendants had stepped forward claiming that the company demoted them based on their body types and attractiveness.
Irina Ierusalimskaya, one of the flight attendants who sued the carrier, claimed that Aeroflot set discriminatory regulations in the summer 2016 when the staff was expected to fall into a specific height range (between 5’2″ and 5’6″) and clothing size (small or medium). Those who didn’t command these biometrics were reportedly not allowed on international flights and demoted, at a lower rate of pay, to overnight local flights only.
Evgeniya Magurina, another stewardess with Aeroflot, told a local news channel that Aeroflot didn’t officially announce these new rules which were imposed stealthily. “All stewardesses were photographed, measured and weighed by the airline in June last year, supposedly to have new uniforms ordered,” she said. After these measurement sessions, she said, some flight attendants were suddenly reassigned to local flights only. When Evgeniya questioned why her routes were changed, she said she was told that the airline had set new rules and she no longer fitted in.
“When my boss looked at my photo, he said: ‘Zhenya, you know, your cheeks are too big for international flights. And you have big breasts, so you should be wearing a sports bra. This is the way they explained to me the new rules,” Evgeniya said.
It then turned out, she continued, that only thin and beautiful flight attendants would be assigned to international flights. “Everyone older than 40 or with clothing size larger than small or medium was taken off international flights,” Evgeniya said.
“This is so humiliating. It is like we were graded in a group ‘fat, old and ugly,'” commented another Aeroflot flight attendant.
In response to the flight attendants’ lawsuit, Aeroflot referred to Russian labor law, which allows imposing strict work rules if they are necessitated by the line of work, or industry. Aeroflot insists that regulations on stewardess’ weight, height and clothing size are conditioned by “limited working space on the aircraft.” If the flight attendant is larger than the set parameters, Aeroflot argued, it would be difficult for them to move around the plane. Larger flight attendants could also cause inconvenience to passengers who might bump into them during the flight, Aeroflot said.
Another factor that influenced the new rules, according to the airline’s spokesperson, was the desire to please the customers. “Clients of Aeroflot prefer young, strong, and attractive flight attendants,” he said. “Attractive flight attendants are also a great advertisement for the airline.”