Flight attendants contribute significantly to passengers’ in-flight experience as well as safety, and it’s definitively not an easy job. They have to routinely renew their training, and be up to date with safety features of any aircraft they work on. However, India has an additional metric to measure whether flight attendants are fit to work: Body Mass Index (BMI).
According to Hindustian Times, Air India is grounding 57 flight attendants for being overweight. These cabin crew members will not be able to fly, but will be performing ground duties instead:
These cabin crew members, including air hostesses, have been told to “shape up” within a stipulated time frame, failing which they would be grounded permanently, Air India sources said.
Air India has over 3,800 cabin crew members, of whom more than 2,500 are women. Out of the total cabin crew strength, around 2,200 members are on permanent rolls.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India categorizes flight attendants as “fit,” “temporary unfit,” and “permanent unfit” based on medical evaluations. The current guidelines sets the normal BMI range as 18 – 22 for female cabin crew, and 18 – 25 for male cabin crew. Flight attendants over this range are deemed “temporarily unfit,” and must reduce their weight within 18 months or be removed from flying duty.
Air India got under the spotlight when it grounded over 100 flight attendants in September 2015 due to their weight. For what is worth, the airline then issued a statement urging the DGCA to relax their guidelines regarding BMI of cabin crew.
Just like there are requirements for flight attendants to be a certain height or be able to reach a certain height with many airlines, though that’s perhaps to make sure cabin crew can close overhead bins during pre-takeoff answering pre-landing checks. I do think that a blanket weight or BMI requirement may be a bit too harsh, especially at the level set by the DGCA. Ultimately, as long as flight attendants can perform in-flight services without hinderance and be able to operate the safety features of an an aircraft, I don’t see why they should be grounded.
What do you think of the grouding of flight attendants based on their weight?