All Female Crew Lands In Country Where They Aren’t Legally Allowed To Drive

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Well this is awesome!

Last Tuesday was International Women’s Day, and my inbox was flooded with airline press releases about airlines operating flights staffed exclusively by women. It’s great to see how far the aviation industry has progressed, though it clearly still has a long way to go.

For example, here’s part of the press release from the Lufthansa Group, which I almost found embarrassing, since they couldn’t even get an all female cockpit crew for an Austrian 767 (bolding mine):

In recognition of today’s International Women’s Day (#IWD2016), the passenger airlines of the Lufthansa Group flew with female crews into John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. From the cockpit to the cabin, 63 female aviation professionals operated the flights, which originated from five cities throughout Europe, including Frankfurt, Munich, Geneva, Vienna and Brussels. Only one Austrian Airlines pilot was the “odd-man-out”, as the carrier continues developing its female cockpit crew to include a Boeing 767 pilot.

Hopefully at some point having all female crews isn’t something which is noteworthy anymore.

But here’s an “all female crew” first which is especially cool, and pre-dates International Women’s Day. I’m not sure how I missed it, but it gained traction on Reddit yesterday. A couple of weeks ago Royal Brunei had their first ever flight staffed exclusively by three female pilots… and it was to Saudi Arabia! Per Royal Brunei’s Instagram:

RB’s first ever female trio at the flight deck; Captain Sharifah Czarena, Senior First Officer Sariana and Senior First Officer Dk Nadiah in the flight deck prior to operating flight BI081 from Brunei to Jeddah wishes Brunei Darussalam a “Happy 32nd National Day”

This wasn’t even for International Women’s Day, but rather coincided with the country’s National Day. Here’s the picture of the three pilots:


Now I’m not sure if the flight being operated to Saudi Arabia was a coincidence or not, but if so, it’s a pretty awesome one. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women can’t legally drive, so to have three female Boeing 787 pilots land a plane there (and presumably “drive” it to the gate) is great.

Not that it excuses Brunei’s horrible human rights policies, but it’s still pretty cool…

Do you think the flight being operated to Saudi Arabia was a coincidence or by design?

  1. No one really cares. It is a non issue. Not even women care, unless they are activists. It is as important as a an all Rhode Island crew.

  2. Totally by design(I truly hope). Of all the countries in the world where they fly to have the KSA as the first for an all female flight is quite the coincidence. It’s also awesome.

  3. Isn’t Brunei kinda repressive, and also under Sharia Law? So they were giving the figurative middle finger to the Saudis by doing this? What am I missing?

    Cue the comments telling me how ignorant Americans are.

  4. @Neil S: Sharia law doesn’t explicitly prohibit women from working, and certainly not as pilots (I’m pretty sure airplanes weren’t around in the 7th century). It does say that women need their husbands’ permission to work, but that doesn’t come into play with the picture. Of course, Saudi Arabia is more repressive than Brunei seems to be, but that doesn’t mean that Brunei was necessarily giving Saudi Arabia the middle finger. The Brunei airline might just be proud of their women employees.

  5. Good to see. More women need to be working instead of pumping out rug rat kids.

    At the end of the day I could careless who is flying the plane as long as they know what the hell they are doing.

    Men need to have more control over their wives.

  6. If you ever doubt there’s still mouth breathing aholes that dislike women while simultaneously pretending they couldn’t care less, all you need to do is look at these comments.

  7. Seems waaaay to activist to me. Is it even a thing that women want to be piolts but aren’t offered jobs, or get lower pay??!

  8. @ Sammy — Oh, I doubt Royal Brunei did this to be “activist.”

    But yes, it is “a thing.” Fewer than 5% of pilots in the US are women, and while I don’t know the international figure off-hand, it’s similarly skewed.

    And it’s a hard “thing” to change. Each time a little girl boards an airplane and sees a flight crew that is exclusively male (and generally white), it reinforces the idea that being a pilot is a boy job, and that boy jobs and girl jobs are different. The same “thing” leads boys to believe they can’t be nurses or elementary school teachers, and limiting imaginations based on gender doesn’t do anyone any good.

    As Ben said, hopefully we’ll get to the point where this isn’t news or even noteworthy, but we’re not there yet, especially in the aviation industry.

  9. What?
    I thought the three chicks in the cockpit were stewardess with their matching headgear and all.

  10. Great story–thanks for sharing. The irony is too striking to be a coincidence.
    Love Tiffany ‘s comments, too. +1

  11. @Tiffany – “Fewer than 5% of pilots in the US are women, and while I don’t know the international figure off-hand, it’s similarly skewed”.

    It’s very possible (and probably true) that women have less of a tendency to want to become commercial piolts. There can be many reasons that deter the average women from choosing such a career. Maybe, maybe not. But just because less than 5% of US piolts are women does not mean that they are being rejected or even snubbed from this particular career path. It just means that in our more sexists past it was a strictly male field and now it’s taking a bit of time to even out the male:female ratio.

    I’m sure the first male nurses had quite a few stares, but who cares? They have the job they wanted and no one is stopping them. Yes, people stare when things are different. In some fields a female may be “different” but as long as they aren’t being stopped or being treated differently because of their gender there is nothing to make “a thing” about.

    It is an activist “thing” to have “Women Flying Day”. It is acting to promote an (non)issue. Ask the people who started it. So yes, surprise surprise, Royal Brunei took part in an activist “thing”, albeit they probably didn’t realise it which is what adds to the humor that gave Ben a chuckle.

  12. *this is all following the assumption that the picture is actualy depicting Royal Brunei piolts.

  13. Lucky, really dissapointed that you highlighted RB, but completely missed Air India’s DEL-SFO flight on Women’s day, the 777 flight had an female crew. IT WAS THE LONGEST FLIGHT STAFFED ENTIRELY BY WOMEN IN HISTORY. Kinda sad when folks hammer AI at every opportunity they get, but never applaud for all the good. More details here:

  14. Congrats “Lucky” and Tiffany . . . you’ve outdone yourselves with Metamucil For The Mind. Just exactly how does this Propaganda Compliance (PC) relate to the “points and miles” hobby and the F & J reviews?
    BTW, I’ve trained Third World airline pilots in B737NG’s. When SHTF and the autopilot is of little use, good luck. Current Third World pilots, both male but predominately female, are “button pusher” flight managers and not stick and rudder pilots that can draw on basic flying skills when absolutely necessary. When the computer farts, as they tend to do, it can get real ugly real fast.

  15. @Bhindar Dundat
    A rather damning testimony on the quality of training you offer.

    I am all for positive role models. Congrats, ladies!

  16. @Bhindar

    sometimes it’s you?


    I haven’t even unleashed my weapons grade comments yet. 🙂

  17. @snic – You do realise that calling it “Sharia law” is like calling US law “Western Law”. Yes laws in Christian Western countries are largely descended from a common Christian view, but they differ wildly today. Exactly the same with Sharia. Most people seem to act like it’s a list of rules written down in the Quran!

    You therefore need to talk about Brunei law, not “Sharia law”. And contrary to your claim, I can find no mention anywhere that Brunei requires women to get the permission of their husband (or anyone – it’s not a legal requirement to marry!) to work? Are you just blindly assuming that’s the case or have you read/heard it somewhere?

  18. @kim

    Congrats! You’ve joined manage to make the best dumbass (make that Dumbass since it’s a proper noun for you) comment about airline pilot training. I would explain the experience requirements necessary for a pilot to sit in the right seat of a commercial airliner; however, I doubt you would understand the technical side and the serious implications of Propaganda Compliance (PC) when staffing positions that require highly skilled individuals, male or female. Kim, what do you call someone who bare passed and graduated in last place from a Third World medical school? Answer: Doctor. Is this the person you’re interested in performing surgery on you?

  19. @ Bindar

    Your jaundiced view of the Third World coupled with an obvious superiority complex informed my original comment. Nothing to do with the technical aspects of pilot training but your attitude when training. I understand your concerns on Propaganda Compliance but that is no reason for blanket condemnation of Third World pilots. I know several excellent ones and I do understand what it takes to sit on the right and left in the cockpit of a commercial airliner.

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