As reported by El Periódico and noted by Live and Let’s Fly, Spanish ultra low cost carrier Vueling is facing a fine over its employee dress code and appearance standards.
Vueling fined over lipstick & high heel rules
Vueling, which is owned by International Airlines Group (the same parent company as British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus) has been fined €30,000 by Catalonian authorities for gender discrimination. This came after a complaint was filed by Stavla, the union representing flight attendants at the airline.
The issue boils down to Vueling’s much stricter appearance standards for women than men. While male flight attendants are only told to have a “clean and neat appearance,” female flight attendants are told that they have to wear foundation similar to their skin tone, eyeliner, and black mascara, and have to wear heels that are two to three inches high.
While the fine amount isn’t that large for a major airline, it’s significant in that it’s the first time that the Spanish government has attempted to regulate the appearance standards of airline employees. Catalonian authorities have stated that the airline should introduce “less burdensome and more balanced corporate image, without affecting fundamental rights.”
Following the ruling, Vueling has pledged that it will no longer have separate appearance standards for female flight attendants, and won’t require them to wear make-up.
My take on Vueling’s government fine
People have varying opinions on flight attendant appearance standards. Personally I care most that flight attendants are comfortable and feel a sense of pride in how they present themselves, whatever form that may come in. It’s not the 1960s, and flight attendants aren’t there for us to fawn over. While I can appreciate that some airlines sell glamor, I don’t think that should really be a priority for a regional ultra low cost carrier.
I think the Catalonian authorities are spot on here. Spain is a country with some progressive laws, and flight attendants are unionized, so this shouldn’t be an unreasonable request. If flight attendants don’t want to wear heels and make-up, they shouldn’t have to, in my opinion. That’s especially true if Spain requires no discrimination when it comes to dress code based on gender.
It’s absolutely sexist to tell men to just look presentable, while having a laundry list of requirements for how women should appear.
Vueling has been fined by the Catalonian authorities for its significantly more stringent flight attendant appearance standard for women than men. While male flight attendants only need to have a “clean and neat appearance,” female flight attendants have been required to wear foundation, eyeliner, mascara, and heels. Fortunately that has now changed.
What do you make of this Vueling fine?
It is a tough one, goes without saying standards should be equal for men, women and non-binary cabin crew, but I do think people should be smart and presentable - I do think it represents airlines badly when crew look messy and unkempt and it is sadly a common sight on most western airlines not just low cost ones. Recent flight on British Airways and it was a bit disappointing to see staff so messily presented.
I couldn't care less if flight attendents wear makeup or not. But I definitely DO care if they show up looking like they rolled out of bed.
It's a tough task for airlines to issues guidelines in the new world.
Therefore there is the "clean and neat" requirement. What are you confused about?
Bunch of hypocrites.
Their language still discriminates different gender.
Personally I find make-up ugly, so the banned rules made no sense whatsoever.
And what's this current "norm" of 2"-3" heels?
Back in the 1980s in ballroom dancing (a glamour area, I think), 2" was standard, but 3" was considered extremely high.
I do think at least 1/2" looks more elegant than completely flat, but more than 2.5" frankly looks inelegant.
Looking at it from 180-degrees, this could theoretically be less problematic for female FAs depending on how nitpicky you want to be. The loophole I see is that the male grooming standards are superficially less onerous but way more open to Vueling's interpretation. They don't define "clean and neat" in any way, so it's wholly open to interpretation by the airline or the purser or whomever is policing grooming standards. Haven't read the totality of...
Looking at it from 180-degrees, this could theoretically be less problematic for female FAs depending on how nitpicky you want to be. The loophole I see is that the male grooming standards are superficially less onerous but way more open to Vueling's interpretation. They don't define "clean and neat" in any way, so it's wholly open to interpretation by the airline or the purser or whomever is policing grooming standards. Haven't read the totality of the regulations but could they not simply deny a flight to a male FA who was subjectively "not" in compliance based on whatever the purser/grooming police thinks that means?
Compared to the male regulations, the regulations for female grooming is specific while levying more superficial requirements insomuch as foundation use, eyeliner, etc. But, using malicious compliance, female FAs could absolutely follow those rules but to disastrous results if they so choose. Just because you have makeup on, per regulation, doesn't mean it has to look good. Or simply do the bare minimum and force Vueling to prove you're in non-compliance. And without wording as nebulous as the male grooming standard, this could turn the tables. It'd be a lot of work, but ultimately it might actually be easier for female FAs.
Ultimately I applaud Veuling for at least taking the initiative to ensure their staff present themselves well (something the US3 need to learn about) - though unsure if this is the best way to do it since it enforces highly subjective rules as to "beauty", though indirectly. Their hard product and business ops, on the other hand, could use a TON of work though...especially as a resident of Catalunya that is sometimes begrudgingly a passenger of Vueling because of their route network in the Med/Adriatic. Case in point: a 757 (or A321...been a while) leased from who-knows-where in which two of the forward lavatories were missing toilet seats. Not just the lids, but the actual lid/seat combination leaving a literal hole in the commode base. FAs shrugged and responded with "Yo no sé." But at least they looked great while doing so.
[unthawing from a glacier after having missed the past 20,000 years of societal development]
"This could theoretically be less problematic for female FAs."
I’d be okay with the f/a rules provided the men are required to be 1.8-1.9 meters in height with a 5% BMI and 18 cm (when soft) members.
Otherwise, yeah, the court made a good ruling here.