Cathay Pacific Flight Attendant Uniforms Too Sexy?

Cathay Pacific’s Flight Attendant Union (FAU) seems to think their flight attendant uniforms are too sexy, and is asking Cathay Pacific to redesign them. For what it’s worth, this is the same union that threatened to withhold smiles in 2012 during contract negotiations.

Via the South China Morning Post:

Cathay Pacific flight attendants are asking the airline to redesign its uniforms for women, which they say are too revealing and may provoke sexual harassment.

The union representing cabin crew complains that the blouses are too short, showing off flesh when the attendants bend down to get items out of a food trolley.

The Flight Attendants Union (FAU) also says the skirts of the uniforms, introduced in 2011, are too tight-fitting, but says management has so far rejected its pleas for a modesty makeover.

So at first this article caught me by surprise, since I’ve always thought that Cathay Pacific has some of the most “modest” uniforms out there. I actually think Cathay Pacific’s uniforms show some of the least “skin” of any airline out there. The tops might as well be turtlenecks, based on how far up they go, while the skirts are fairly long. Heck, I think US airline flight attendants show more skin.


That being said, I can see how they could be too tight, and how they could be a bit “exposing” when bending down. And that can certainly be a problem.

The union seems to be linking the uniforms to a rise in sexual harassment among flight attendants:

Choi said she believed the too-revealing uniforms were contributing to an apparent rise in incidents of sexual harassment of cabin crew by passengers, which she now estimates to affect each cabin crew member on one in every 10 flights.

Asked why she thought cases of sexual harassment seemed so prevalent, she said: “I think part of the reason is that we treat our passengers so well. They are spoilt in some ways.

“Some of the Marco Polo Club [frequent flier] members think they can do things to us because they are privileged and we somehow allow it. That is very bad.

“They think it is part of their privilege ā€¦ Afterwards, they believe they can apologise and everything is settled.”

Choi added: “When you report it to the flight manager, they always say it is the crew member’s decision whether or not to call the police. They tell you, ‘It’s your decision. Do you want to delay the flight by calling the police?’

I think if anything the problem is that Cathay Pacific needs to have clearer guidelines for reporting sexual harassment, and not “guilting” the flight attendants into tolerating it, which sounds like the case.

I’m also kind of surprised that the issue is with Marco Polo members. My female flight attendant friends in Asia have all told me they’ve experienced much more sexual harassment in economy, where space is much more “limited” and less frequent travelers don’t have quite as many boundaries.

Regardless, the comments on the South China Morning Post article are fascinating.

Like this one, suggesting Cathay Pacific is provoking men to rape flight attendants because the uniforms are red:

I’d like to send my message to Cathay Pacific company!!! It’s VERY IMPORTANT!!
Actually fashion designer Eddie Lau, make fatal MISTAKE! There is NO problem that “blouses are ‘too short’ and skirts ‘too tight’ .. If Eddie Lau know psychology – she will NEVER create Uniform in RED COLOR!
Because “Lady in RED” is only GOOD for romantic song.. : ) …but RED COLOR in general produce AGGRESSION, and when woman in RED it’s provoke men to RAPE her !!!
Cathay Pacific – you MUST to change this RED UNIFORM immediately to something Blue, Green, or any other color from 16 millions of them šŸ™‚

Or this one, suggesting the captain should charge down the aisle and “slap the hand of the offender” if there’s any sexual harassment… because that’s the only way we can really instill confidence in the flight’s safety:

As a long time flyer of CPA, I am appalled to find out that in cases of harassment the flight’s Captain doesn’t charge down the aisle and slaps the hand of the offender ! I thought he was The undisputed authority on board. that is not good news for safety confidence on board.

Or this one, suggesting Cathay Pacific should hire “older uglier women for cabin crew:”

Cathay Pacific should hire older uglier women for cabin crew especially for the business and 1st class to avoid sexual exploitation by the Marco Polo perverts who think they have a right touch here and there. These perverts should go to Wan Chai or to Manila.

Gotta love the internet…

What do you think? Are the uniforms leading to sexual harassment, a lack of clear boundaries on how to respond to sexual harassment, or something else?

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific
  1. I mean no offense to the wonderful, extremely professional flight attendants at Cathay Pacific, but at no time flying CX have I ever associated any flight attendant, female or male, with the word “sexy.” I think we’re past the era of sexy flight attendants and all used to the idea of a competent and mildly stern woman in her 50’s attending to your champagne pours.

    Now, the boys at Air France, on the other hand… luckily they come from a country where sexual harrassment is a way of life.

  2. The blouses/shirts are indeed short and lift up to expose skin when the flight attendants help with the overhead bins.

    @gary, there is rampant sexual harassment of FAs on planes. Surprised you don’t get that fact.

  3. el al male flight attendants are too sexy regardless of their uniforms… even better without them… šŸ˜‰

  4. Surprisingly, there is not much mention of the SQ FAs who wear corsets to accentuate their curves, and needless to say – their uniform seems to be designed to show cleavage, especially in F and J class when they sit down / kneel down / bend down to talk to the pax or offer pajamas and amenities or collect meal orders… CX FAs are a style of their own – quite gracious!

  5. isn’t this a cultural issue. the male passengers perceive the FAs to not be where they should be in their opinion, so therefore harassing them is “acceptable” in their mind.

    changing the uniforms is not going to do anything to stop this. if the passenger thinks it is okay, the FAs could be wearing a fully covering long dress and still be groped. this harassment issue b/c the uniforms “show too much skin/whatever” is very much like saying a woman shouldn’t be out after dark, or simply shouldn’t be in whatever location, and asked to be attacked by just being there.

  6. How about Delta FA’s that use high heels boots to their knees while working on planes? That is not sexy but in my opinion a safety issue since there is no way they can help evacuate a plane in case of an emergency wearing those boots.

  7. “Sexy” clothing in that pic???? Bring on the Hooters girls as flight attendants. We need the flying experience to go back to the way it was in the 70’s. šŸ˜€

  8. It seems that people agree that blouses are revealing when lifting/bending, so they should be lengthened if FAs desire.

    But, I think, the bigger issue is that FAs don’t feel sufficiently supported by the management when it comes to dealing with unruly or harassing passengers. It sounds like CX is afraid of DYKWIA passengers.

    P.S. @ Lucky – I’d be curious if you could do a post on experiences of Asian FAs, e.g. to see if certain groups of passengers feel overly entitled and don’t treat FAs with respect.

  9. “These perverts should go to Wan Chai or to Manila.”

    Sounds like a legit Hong Kong-er to me!

  10. my GF is a NH CA and she said if she is not filing a report on a customer, she is hearing a story on almost every long haul flight from her crew and its sad. esp when the union rep for the ANA inflight group is also a member of management. (doh!) deaf ears. they have been asking for pants for years and obviously nothing. not even in the Japanese news. Why? It goes back to a culture when the women serve and remain obedient. I am not a sociologist but it says something when a female VP of a company (NH) is serving tea at a meeting with lower level male colleagues.

    Not all about the uniform. Its about a mind set. Western females are more empowered (rightfully) and wont take crap. Asian females, take crap.

  11. Oh please… its only the traditional Hong Kong girls who pretend to be virgins. they are not that sexy!!! its like going to an all boys school. Anybody looks hot after a while… they should stop being such prudes and lighten up…

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