Sexist Flight Attendant Skit Performed At Frequent Flyer Event Goes Viral

This escalated pretty quickly. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), which represents American’s flight attendants, is calling for answers after a skit that was performed this weekend was posted online. It depicts four ladies in flight attendant uniforms (with red heels) putting on a cabaret show that many are describing as sexist.

What happened?

Here’s my understanding of what happened:

  • Some Executive Platinum and Concierge Key customers got together for an event that was intended to raise money for charity
  • During that event a skit was performed, featuring flight attendants and pilots in uniform, which many are saying was both demeaning and sexist
  • American says they had no involvement, as this was a private event that wasn’t in any way hosted or condoned by the airline
  • It’s also worth emphasizing that none of this would have been made public if one participant hadn’t chosen to share the footage online, as this wasn’t intended to be broadcast in any way

Here’s the 10+ minute skit:

American’s flight attendant union is calling on management for answers.

A video that went viral last night has prompted the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) to demand that American Airlines (AA) CEO Doug Parker conduct an independent investigation of Management’s involvement in the incident. The video, which was posted on Twitter, captured a skit of individuals portrayed as Flight Attendants promoting sex appeal as an attraction to AA’s most prominent and lucrative passengers, those with premium Executive Platinum status. It is set to the musical score of “Big Spender.”

“This cannot be happening in today’s environment. We will not tolerate our profession being objectified in a sexist manner,” said APFA National President Lori Bassani. “We want the facts about the Company’s involvement and we want answers.”

Different perspectives on this

It seems like there are two prevailing viewpoints.

One viewpoint is that this all happened in a private setting, and the event wasn’t at all supported by American. If everyone in the room enjoyed it and it was raising money for a good cause, then we’re all just making something out of nothing.

The other viewpoint is that this skit depicts flight attendants as sex symbols and further reinforces stereotypes that existed about flight attendants decades ago, which has fortunately changed over time (at least in the US). The flight attendants are wearing red heels, they talk about how they want to find a rich husband in first class, etc.

Then there’s the other major element to this. American says they weren’t involved in this, though their logo appears on stage (though it could have been used without their permission).

Does it just matter they weren’t involved in the skit, or what if they provided some sort of giveaways for the event? Furthermore, allegedly at least some of the people on stage are actual American flight attendants, even though they’re not wearing anything branded. Should they be in trouble with the airline?

My take

Obviously I don’t have all the facts, and I wasn’t there. My initial instinct is that this comes across as being in very poor taste. It’s sexist and demeaning to the profession. However, based on my understanding of things, I wouldn’t assign any blame to American, as they weren’t behind this. I’d peg this more on the event organizers, and the person who shared it online.

All that being said, I do feel a bit hypocritical saying that. Just recently I went to see Pam Ann perform. For those of you who don’t know Pam Ann, she’s an airline comedian who has been doing skits about airlines for years. The thing is, she’s really, really, really inappropriate. Every second word is a cuss word or involves sex, and basically her whole skit is sexist and demeaning to flight attendants.

Here’s an example of her performance (again, there’s a lot of bad language, so view at your own discretion):

When she performs she draws audiences of hundreds, and they’re almost entirely flight attendants. No one complaints when she performs. I’ve never seen a flight attendant union call for a boycott of her, but rather you see flight attendants there laughing their heads off.

So I don’t know. Clearly there’s some double standard. It’s okay when a comedian says certain things, until it’s not. I don’t know where exactly this event would fall in comparison to a Pam Ann performance. Perhaps the issue is that this skit is just cringeworthy, and not funny in any way (at least to me).

What do you make of this situation?

(Tip of the hat to @xJonNYC)

Comments

  1. i think the much bigger consideration is that you *have* to think that everything – and i do mean EVERYTHING (see also: Hillary Clinton’s emails, celebrity nudes etc.) – has the potential to get out now. how that didn’t cross these people’s minds is sort of beyond me, especially in the #MeToo era. and this will definitely hit the news networks, i mean they are always looking for low hanging fruit when it comes to the airline industry and this is about as low hanging as it gets.

  2. What is this thing doing on your blog?

    Remember cooking recipes and relationship advice. That’s the ticket.

  3. Holy mackerel that skit is atrocious. The only thing inappropriate is their attempt at comedy. I had to turn it off less than halfway through.

    Kidding aside… my response is “whatever”. If some private group wants to put on a stupid skit, then go for it. It’s more embarrassing for the “leaker” than those involved if they thought this would go viral and have any impact.

    Pam Ann… now that is comedy. Gimme more!

  4. “I’d peg this more on the event organizers, and the person who shared it online.”

    Once your conscience reaches this conclusion, I think you know whether it was a good thing or bad.

    The right thing is right whether private or public. If it’s bad because it’s released, it’s bad regardless.

  5. @Ryan – I agree, once this gets into the news networks it will blow up big time. Unfortunately, what was probably a unfunny skit in an otherwise enjoyable evening, that no doubt made money for charity, will now probably be cancelled. Because somebody for whatever reason, posted it online.

    Rowan Atkinson famously said, you should only apologize for making a joke if it isn’t funny. People we laughing at the skit. According to Mr Bean’s analysis, no apology is necessary.

  6. @Debit

    Dude you are a no-lifer, you’re on here constantly, Lucky’s content obviously speaks to you on a very deep level.

    Also why do we care about this? Go on Seeking Arrangement, there are tons of flight attendants who are selling themselves, I’ve met a few of them myself. It’s a profession that’s made for that lifestyle, let’s call a spade a spade and not get too worked up about this.

  7. I won’t bother watching the silly skit, especially after reading the reviews above, but it highlights one aspect of this era that really offends me: the readiness – nay, eagerness – of so many who seem to seek out excuses to be offended about something.

  8. There’s a meet up of exec plats and concierge keys? I never knew.

    This is absurd. First of all that in the era of #metoo they would even consider this given the potential issues. Second, because, huh, flight attendants are sexy today?

  9. Welcome to a culture that gets easily offended. Pair this with the obnoxious entitlement of millennials these days and you wake up in a societal nightmare. I’m so done with this.

  10. “There’s a meet up of exec plats and concierge keys? I never knew……..”

    Who provided that mailing list for all the invites?

  11. I don’t think Pam Ann would agree with the view that AA FA’s should be seen as sex symbols… “Gloria….Gloria”

  12. If the airline management was not involved in this and it was indeed a private event the union needs to settle the hell down. Maybe they should actually get the facts straight before releasing statements like this, especially when it was their own union members doing it.

  13. @Fredd spot on. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that there is some kind of war going on against comedy in general. I am beginning to think that the professional victims and their willing sycophants want all of us to live completely dour, humorless lives.

    Oh well. I assume in the next few days, the Party will put those responsible for this video up on the telescreens for the Two Minutes’ Hate so that they will never be able to publicly function again nor live any kind of meaningful, fulfilling life in society.

  14. Meh, as we say in Miami:

    ¿No todos los pequeños copos de nieve tienen mejores cosas de qué preocuparse?

  15. This video is more a poorly executed attempt at parody of the cabin crew stereotype, in my opinion. Very amateur, unrehearsed, and minless. That’s all. Loosen up everyone! Lot’s worse things to get outraged about.

  16. Regardless of what one thinks about the video, the fact that it was a private event doesn’t make it any better. just because something isn’t intended to be public doesn’t condone behavior.

    but in any case, why is this even being mentioned on your blog, Lucky?

  17. Really… who cares. People are way too easily offended today. It’s getting ridiculous. My family was in the airlne industry… including my mom who was a flight attendant for years; she would laugh. Is anyone really going to see this skit and start treating people differently. Does this really affect anyone’s life? Stop being victims. Please!

  18. How do you get a bunch of AA status holding members all in one room for a benefit? Who provided them with the list of members to invite? It must in someway have involved AA…or am I missing something?

  19. Trex there are private facebook groups for EP and CK members, invite only membership… At least 4 I know of. AA was not involved in this event last night, We were supposed to attend but couldn’t make it.

  20. Who gives a raging crap?? Stop being so damned offended about everything. Stop giving the pound me too movement another non issue to bitch about.

  21. I AM OUTRAGED !!!
    OUTRAGED I SAY !!!
    WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!?
    SOMEONE IS GOING TO PAY FOR THIS !!!
    What are we talking about again?
    Nevermind.

  22. I’m with the majority commenting. This really is just a private skit and could have been of anything. But because it was about airline’s and someone posted this which usually someone does these days it’s now made a big deal out of … RIDICULOUS….Maybe they should have done a skit about dogs and and cats lol and we wouldn’t b talking about this.

  23. There is no way the union believes that this is an actual stereotype in this video. In 15+ years as Executive Platinum, I can count on one hand the number of AA stewardesses I’ve seen that are both as attractive and friendly as the actresses portraying them here. Much ado about nothing.

  24. My understanding is that the American Airlines logo and name is not to be used by anyone without permission from the Airline which is clearly in the background. Nor is the Airline to be slandered in anyway. As for Employees, they sign off on an ethics compliance once a year stating they agree to this.

    This skit is completely making fun of American Airlines specifically being that the logo is clearly on a big screen in the background. Not only making fun of their flight attendants but belittling their service, aircraft and pilots. If it said “Bla Bla Bla Airline” or “Pam Ann Airline” on the Screen this would be completely harmless and lame.

    So if there are any employees in the video or had anything to do with this skit their jobs could now be in jeopardy thanks to the person whom decided it would be a great idea to make this viral.

    If they are just private folks not thinking…they could be potentially sued if they did not get permission from the Airline. This is the reality of it all folks.

    Of course then there is the News Media…just out there putting gas on the fire! All of this is pretty pathetic if you ask me!

  25. If AA isn’t involved who provided the Executive Platinum & Concierge Key names? One or more of those women is an AA flight attendant. If AA isn’t involved how did she get invited to perform? In a time when we’re more aware of sexual harassment in the workplace why choose THIS skit for a charity (or any other event). It’s degrading.

  26. That top one, I just don’t see what the problem is, they had fun. No one got hurt. I enjoyed watching it. Seriously, what’s out world coming to?

  27. This shouldn’t even be newsworthy. The performers were enjoying themselves, and the audience seemed to like it as well. Using the airline Union’s standard, almost every show on the Vegas strip would need to be cancelled because it’s sexist. It pokes fun at stereotypes to the amusement of top customers in order to raise some money. I’m sure those union members that were performing were volunteering their time for charity. That should be both noted and commended.

  28. The only thing inappropriate I can see is that customers are being mislead by implying there are sexy Stewardesses at AA. Nothing could be more far from the truth.

    Sidenote: If they really raised lots of money with this, Dog Parker should look at this and learn. Replace the workforce with younger&fitter Stewardesses, get them a fitness program and customers will be happy to significantly pay more.

  29. Wow. The fun police are at it again. A few thoughts… All of the people appear to be consenting adults. No? Not everyone lives in the echo chamber of political correctness. For some of us, it’s just too exhausting to constantly virtue signal in order to express our moral superiority. Bad taste? Maybe. IMHO there are much bigger fish to fry. Lighten up. Not everything is a HUGE deal.

  30. It’s amateaur satire at a private event. Not worthy of your reporting. Much ado about nothing.

  31. “there are private facebook groups for EP and CK members, invite only membership……..”

    As Groucho would say, ” PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER!”

  32. Jamie will do anything for a click to his blog,, including posting internal AA mails from his BFs email. He’s now cost people their jobs, he needs to shut it down…

  33. @Fredd and Peter, I’m with both your lines of thought. We can’t even laugh at ourselves any longer without someone taking it “real” or thinking you’re offending “someone.” Get over it, people. Laugh a little and move along. No one is calling anyone anything, just acting for fun AND from history that’s a bit true.
    Geez how far we’ve fallen…

  34. I liked it! They sing great!
    BTW: I pay for my 1st Class seats rather than using the upgrade lottery (fun to know I prevent freeloaders from getting upgraded)
    I want some of that attention on my next flight… good humor

  35. Pam Ann is funny because she makes fun of *everyone*. If the men who commissioned this skit aimed the parody hose at themselves a bit, this would have been funny, too. A little mocking of ALL stereotypes is always entertaining. But there was no scene of a fat old businessman taking a call from his wife where he pretends to be in Cleveland while his young paid-for girlfriend sits next to him on a flight to Cancun. There was no scene of a guy screaming like a two-year-old because there wasn’t anymore airplane chicken dinners left. There was no scene with an old drunk pilot in a bathrobe trying to get into the hotel room of a 20 year-old new-hire flight attendant. Just scenes mocking the worst stereotypes of the women. Spread the love, and we will, too. It’s that simple, guys.

  36. If an amateur sketch depicting airline stewardesses performing Bob Fosse’s “Big Spender” is offensive to you, then you should be totally outraged that there are professional productions of Bob Fosse’s material, including the musical Chicago, that exploit female dancers’ talents for business profit. Why the selective outrage?

    This blog is really slipping, I’ve started to go back to TPG for more miles and points related content.

  37. “Not everyone lives in the echo chamber of political correctness”

    True, and that drives some people crazy. They devote their lives to trying to force the entire world to live in that echo chamber. And they will stop at nothing until they achieve their objective. Which in the long run will be to turn all the nations of the world into replicas of North Korea.

    In a couple of years you will have a chance to vote for this as a nationwide Totalitarian program called the Green New Deal (sic). No more meat, no more private insurance, no more planes, no more cars, no more coal/oil/gas power plants. “Saving the Planet” (sic) requires the elimination of personal freedom, including freedom of thought. Everyone must be forced to kneel before the Far Left State. Eventually even that will not be enough; it will be required to smile while kneeling to show how much you love it.

    As Mussolini famously said: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”.

  38. This seems like any lame corporate event. Skits that aren’t funny because they can’t just go the whole way (ala Pam Ann). That said the outrage over it is even more laughable. I could see the unions feeling the need to fawn objection just because, but I can’t imagine they really think it’s a big deal either. The really terrifying ones are those who take deep offense to these things with complete sincerity.

    Lastly, the funniest thing about this skit to me (which it seems is lost on most?) is that they are actually making fun of the Elite Status members (or whatever they are called), right in front of a room full of them. The Big Spender bit was parody…the “where are all the rich men my mom said I would meet in first class” was the setup. That was the funniest aspect of the whole skit.

  39. As usual, I’m with Stephen Fry on this… ‘It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that”. As if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. “I’m offended by that.” Well so fucking what?’

  40. Those girls are fat, old and ugly.
    Just like the FAs you see on AA.
    I mean who were paying to watch those grannies anyway?
    I couldn’t watch more than 10 seconds of that clip.

  41. The grace and beauty of flight attendants on many foreign airlines just puts the US carriers to shame and this skit only reinforces that idea.

  42. All of the commenters saying, “It’s not a big deal” and to “Lighten up” or worse, “I’d like some treatment like that”, I take it you’re ok with nearly 2/3 of flight attendants being sexually harassed on the job? You’d be ok with your wife, sister, or daughter working in an industry with these sort of stats and an employer who CLEARLY OK’s such events including their f******g logo?

    You don’t see the correlation between promoting such sexist behavior and the exploration of actual employees?

    You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Every single one of you.

  43. I noticed the majority of the comments are made by men! How typical! If a skit with your corporate logo was made depicting big, fat, ugly business men two timing on their wives with the company secretary… I doubt you would be quite so blasé with your reactions! I see very few trim and fit, good looking middle aged men out there in the corporate world either. Maybe a little self reflection is called for.. There are also MALE flight attendants too but those were quite obviously in absentia in this tastelessly trash skit. Yup about as sexist as you can get.

  44. “even though they’re not wearing anything branded.” The FAs are wearing their crew uniform scarves. That; AA logo on the vid screen; & real FAs & AA customers in attendance, AAa can hardly feign ignorance & total non-involvement.

    And what about the poor “preferred” customer played by an employee – think he wanted this out there for HIS family to view? The Plat customers there will probably start flying UA after this mess.

  45. Too many people have a sense of humour bypass. How can this be “sexist” when it was performed by women?

  46. When I joined their ranks in 1973 there were many, many ‘girls’ named “Sugar” and “Bambi” stewardesses. They were cute and times were different. We had LOTS of parties in those days. Then we became “flight attendants” and became a little more professional. And we put on a little weight. Management didn’t like that. We became difficult to deal with. So now flight attendants are returning to the “Bambi” image and management is happy. This just sort of happened, not directly the result of corporate policy, but more the result of an increasing lack of respect towards crew members, by both the traveling public and management. The real problem here is that what was once okay in private is now fair game when publicized. If the union is upset then I think the union should be looking at its’ own members instead of blaming management.

  47. @Edward – more the result of senior FAs ageing out to retirement/disability and younger crews taking their place.

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