Skip to comments.Fly the Friendly -- and Beautiful--Skies
Posted on 11/27/2007 7:27:19 PM PST by JACKRUSSELL
(BEIJING) -- Fly on a Chinese airline and you will be pampered by flight attendants who look eerily alike. They are young, beautiful and practically the same height.
This is not a coffee-tea-or-me stereotype, but the result of a rigorous selection process that is more beauty pageant than equal-opportunity job interview.
If you're older than 24, don't bother applying.
If you aren't taller than the average Chinese woman, go home.
And if your legs are similar to tree trunks, don't call.
Sound like a throwback to the dark ages of workplace discrimination?
Here, in the world's fastest-growing aviation market, entry barriers for flight attendants are not only tolerated -- they're flaunted as symbols of excellence.
"A lot of Chinese passengers judge the quality of airlines based on the quality of their flight attendants, meaning, 'Are they pretty or not pretty?'" said Luo Man, a media director at China Southern, the country's largest carrier.
Good looks are such a commodity these days that China Southern has put its annual recruitment drive on reality TV. While men are not excluded from the jobs, only women are featured in the on-television selection process. The show, funded in part by the airline, follows a six-month audition -- complete with swimsuit competition and a race involving luggage, makeup brushes and drink trays -- through several major Chinese cities. Thousands of young women line up for the chance to compete for 180 openings.
China Southern's Web site for the show, which provides news on the auditions, has had more than 1 million hits.
"This is every little girl's dream," said Lu Ju, 20, who has flown three times in her life. "I want to be beautiful like the flight attendants. They can see the world and go places most people can't."......
(Excerpt) Read more at chicagotribune.com ...
Thousands of women all young, beautiful and practically the same height have applied for 180 openings for flight attendants at China Southern Airlines. The selection process is much more old-fashioned beauty pageant than equal-opportunity job interview. Prospects must be no older than 24, have nice legs and be taller than average. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
China Southern Airlines puts its annual flight attendant recruitment drives on TV. The show follows a six-month audition through several major Chinese cities. Thousands of women show up for the chance to compete. During a recent taping at a resort on the outskirts of Beijing, the contestants lined up with military precision, each wearing tight shorts and snug T-shirts. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Two young women chat during the auditions, which include a swimsuit competition and a race involving luggage, makeup brushes and drinks trays. Demand for new flight attendants is so great it has spawned a cottage industry of academies to produce cabin crews. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Fu Rao, 18, center, helps a friend with her makeup duing the competition. She believes youth and inexperience can work to her advantage if she's hired. There are a lot of passengers who are also flying for the first time we are in the same boat and therefore better able to put them at ease, she said. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Fu Rao is overcome with emotion after finding out that she avoided elimination from the auditions. The vast majority of aspiring flight attendants didn't make the cut. Judges were looking not just at their appearance, but also how they responded to disappointment and unexpected situations and how well they worked in team situations. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Some of the aspiring flight attendants practice before a competition. China Southern officials defend the emphasis on youth and beauty. A lot of Chinese passengers judge the quality of airlines based on the quality of their flight attendants, meaning are they pretty or not pretty, said Luo Man, a media director for the airline. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Two young women compete in the drinks tray-carrying contest. They shifted from shorts and T-shirts to the buttoned-down blouse, pencil skirt and black heels of a flight attendant. Back before the cameras as the clock ticked, they threw on rouge and eye shadow and touched up their hair in front of tiny hand-held mirrors, then grabbed trays of drinks to present to the judges. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
The Chinese flight attendants are very beautiful and poised. Harkens back to an earlier time in the US aviation industry.
Hillary will be sad she has no Chinese fall back job.
Obviously, the beauty must be in the eye of the beholder.
Flew from Fuyong to Beijing on China Air.
Unacceptable seats. Pitch was maybe 27 inches and width 15 inches. I’m 6 foot tall, 210 pounds. I didn’t fit. I’m not a gigantic lardass...15 pounds over...sure...not a giant sloth.
Shiznitty airlines. Don’t fly China Air for any reason. The rest of the asian airlines are fantastic...Asiana is a class act. China Air...GARBAGE!
I've flown China Air once...Honolulu to Hong Kong and back.Don't recall it having been particularly bad but it was only after I returned that I learned of their abysmal safety record.
Most of the Asian airlines are like that. JAL and ANA have the same sort of rules.
One of the reasons I quit flying domestically and commercially in 1992.
“Me lovey long time!”
Sure beats the bitter old cows Northwest hauls around.
My experiences were completely different. My wife and I recently flew from LAX to Asia and back on China Airlines, and were treated very well. Food and service were excellent. That was the second time I have flown on China Air, and we would fly them again in the future.
Can you though? LOL!
All the domestic Chinese carriers are tight for the laowai (westerners). I’m 6’1”, 280 pounds, wear a size 56 jacket (and a size 38 pant - I’m all chest). Nothing in economy fits, so the key is to fly first class - it’s usually just another 300 RMB, or if you’re smart show up about 30 minutes before your flight, and if the flight is pretty much full you’ll get a free upgrade to the first class seats.
If I am stuck in economy, it’s not that bad... Thankfully the longest flight from Shanghai is about 2 hours, down to Shenzhen. But most of what’s in China doesn’t fit bigger Western guys.
On the other hand, it’s really cheap to get custom made suits, shoes, and furniture (I pay 800 RMB per suit and shirt, and 300 RMB for leather shoes). I have 5 tailored suits, 10 shirts, even tailored jeans and khakis. Had a custom bed made for my apartment in Shanghai, and an oversized chair for the living room. Quite nice, if you can do it!
Oh, the fun of living in a country where the average person is literally half your size...
What a scandal. I'd just hate to fly an airline with gorgeous, polite stewardesses.
I used to llike buying Hong Kong made suits, even in a second hand store. Superb workmanship. I took a suit into my tailor for alterations and the lady went on and on about the hand stitching, how she'd never seen such craftmanship.
Unfortunately, their safety record also harkens back to an earlier, more dangerous time in the aviation industry.
“The estimated fatal event rate for China Airlines is about 11.4 fatal events per million flights. This is more than triple the rate of most major airlines in North America and western Europe.”
You Huge Gweilo! I am 50 jacket. I’ve been guilted about that forever.
that said, upgrading is always a good thing. I always did it on ferry trips. Usually a few dollars meant special treatment
However, can you order out for air? This little matter of each breath in Shanghai being the equivalent of smoking a carton or suchlike would dampen my enthusiasm.
And that little matter of water that comes in yummy metallic colors...
Waiting for a train in Yokohama Japan late one evening.A train came to the end of it's run and the crew got out. The hostesses were spit polished and coifed to a T (even at the end of their run). They walked together down the platform with a bit of a swagger.
Meanwhile, our travel industry seems to intentially become less and less customer oriented (just landed in PHL tonight and sat on the runway for over 45 mins. The ramp crews were short this evening as some did not show up for work today. The pilot was livid!)
If you aren't taller than the average Chinese woman, go home.
And if your legs are similar to tree trunks, don't call.
I demand that these rules be instituted at US carriers immediately!!! ;)
So much more pleasant than flying NWA or UA transoceanic flights where seniority rules mean all the attendants are old bags.
Actually, I’ve found the air in the Minhang district of Shanghai - where I live 20 weeks of the year - to smell, breathe, and look cleaner than that of Los Angeles. No kidding.
Water from the tap tests and tastes clean as well. The building I’m in doesn’t have any special filtration. Clean enough that I don’t mind cooking, bathing in or drinking it, and I’ve never gotten sick - food poisoning, intestinal issues, etc.
A lot of the bigger Chinese cities are actually quite modern and pretty clean anymore. Money does that - money from the laowai spending, money in the hands of the successful zhongguo ren wanting a better life, money from the government wanting to build up an infrastructure to build a modern economy.
A lot of China still has a LONG way to go, but some of it is actually pretty nice, comfortable, clean, and easy to live in. Affordable, tasty, good international cuisine in some world-class restaurants, great nightlife, very low cost for most of your durable and consumable goods, very affordable housing (I pay $315 per month for a fully furnished 850 square foot two bedroom, one bath apartment on a high floor of a rear building in a nice clean, quiet, upscale complex), and you can make a lot of money here quite easily, if you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort.
Ever fly Korean Air? Do it once, just to experience the welcome/safety instructions. Not only do all the flight attendants look identical, they all bow/move/bend at the EXACT same time. It’s like synchronized swimming, just with flight attendants showing how to buckle your seat!
ANA (Japanese)? Another cloud in heaven.
Korean and Asiana? Also nice.
United? American? Delta? Northwest?
You can flush 'em right down the toilet.
(Gee, that wasnt kind now, was it!?)
PS, IMHO, that blond kid seems to be learning early! lol ;-)
Now hold on a sec. Your babe is smack dab in the middle. Yellow shirt. Third row.
I was in Japan for two weeks. You know how it is. You get used to manners there very quickly.
So the flight back was through San Francisco. We unload and go into Customs. An Officer is there at the bottom of the ramp. 9mm pistol and a barking dog yelling "Have your passports ready!!". I get to the Seattle gate for the final leg home . There was some ancient hippie playing an accordian. And did so en route home on the plane.
What a culture shock!
I retired from the Friendly Skies in 2003. It was time, and besides, I’m an RN, so I’ve been considering a return to nursing. I maintained my weight of 110 the entire time I worked as a flight attendant.
Last month, I flew to Beijing from Washington, DC. Because of my seniority, we were able to fly first class both ways on my passes. (It’s stand-by after revenue seats are sold, but we usually get first class or business.)
It’s embarassing to see how really overweight some flight attendants are now! They seem to grow larger each year. But because of the union, there are no weight rules like there once was.
The rules changed because of lawsuits, and compensation was given to those who were psychologically and physically “damaged” because of having to lose weight. Yep...they are the huge ones now. Besides, they’ve been hiring overweight flight attendants for several years...most are in their 20’s and 30’s.
On my recent trip, the F/A’s who were attentive were of average weight. The big ones were lazy with an attitude;they could barely walk.
Because of my benefits, I paid $300.00 for first class, round trip. If I flew coach, my cost would be $30.00 round trip. If you check United’s website, a seat from IAD to PEK, first class, rd trip, is $19,000. So I’m not complaining for myself, but for the revenue passengers. Besides, those F/C seats turn into beds, so I sleep most of the time.
A woman sitting nearby was a personal assistant to a guy living in Beijing. She said he will not fly United because of the service...he will only fly the Asian airlines. She flew United only for the “miles,” and admitted she is usually disappointed in the service, the attitudes, and the overweight F/A’s. I have heard similar complaints from customers in the past.
Weekly, I receive flight attendant union news in emails. Well, do I have to say what unions are all about? It’s never about improving service to passengers, it’s about F/A rights and that United is exploiting the employees, so you don’t have to do this or that...etc.. And, oh yes...vote Democrat! http://www.afanet.org/
While in China, we flew on China Eastern and Hainan Airlines. Those gals were as described in the article. And yes, at Singapore Airlines, they are exquisite. But I can’t understand how they work in those long dresses!
In the span of one day, you can take one taxi and get the nicest ride possible, really fun chat and information, and take another taxi a few hours later and barely escape with your life.
In Japan, pretty much every day you know what is going to happen, and hardly anybody dishes out an crap to you as people generally dont interchange with strangers to begin with, let alone foreigners. In NY, you are liable to be panhandled to death.
For me the type of aircraft (always Boeing) and the comfort of the seats are the most important things.
This issue and these differences are rather openly discussed among both Western (US,UK, Australian, European) businesspeople as well as Japanese businesspeople I know who are frequent biz air travelers.
It is an open secret, everyone knows it.
What I find comical is this (maybe tragic in a way).
Since I comprehend Asian languages rather fluently, but you might not suspect it looking at me, I have stood around or sat and listened somewhat surreptitiously to absolutely SHOCKED Asian air passengers comment in their native languages (mostly the Japanese are the most strict) amongst themselves, particularly first timers trying a US carrier, about the U.S. Flight Attendents.
I have not infrequently heard things in the open, albeit a bit hushed, like: "wow!", "My God!", "look at her, how fat!", "she's rude!", "can you believe this!?", even "yep, for sure, Asian attendents are the best".
I think the US flight attendents in Asia know this, but it is like they dont even care. I wish they did care, I would give them more of my business as I always want to "buy American". But I am also a consumer and will vote with my feet, and in this case, Asian service, manners, appearance, attitude, way of talking, way of asking, way of setting table and placing food, EVERYTHING, they win hands down. You dont even have to ask for stuff. They read body language without any words spoken and will run to get you a chopstick after you dropped one, or get an other pillow for you. Often on US carriers you have to SHOUT that you want something--often they will just plain forget even after saying they will come back to you. Generalizations, I realize, but that is my long experience.
Wo shi da meiguo ren! I’ve always been barrel chested, but that’s not the worst part. I’m 6 feet, 1 inch - and have a 28” inseam. Meaning the pants I wear would normally fit a guy 5’ 8”, and my jacket is for a guy 6’ 6” tall. I’m all torso.
So my issue with seating, cars, and such really isn’t leg room; in fact, economy seats are fine with me, from a legroom standpoint. Just that my shoulders usually end up ABOVE the top of the seat, and my head sticks way out!
Thankfully my tailor in Shanghai (Yarn Boss) is really good - the clothes hang perfectly, are comfortable to wear all day, exquisitely made, and dirt cheap (I mean, 125 RMB - $16 - for a custom tailored dress shirt in your choice of 400 fabrics, and two dozen collar and cuff styles).
Northwest does offer you the choice of an old cow or a gay male steward.
Unions and lawyers are the death of this country.
I first flew in 1959, so I have really seen it go down hill.
“....the attractiveness of the stewardesses has never been important to me. Not even their “helpfulness” is an issue mainly because (particularly on long flights) I tend to get up and roam around and,thus,can get anything I want for myself.”
Okay, so you’re one of those who gets an aisle seat and stands in the galley and talks to us. I always enjoyed those friendly types, but when there’s work to be done, these big gals just aren’t capable. It isn’t about “attractiveness.”
They can’t bend down for anything in the bottom of the cart, you can’t get past them anywhere (the working areas are small.) Therefore, many can’t even work in the aisles. They have to stay in the galley.
I want to see one of them help you in an emergency evacuation. I’ve been to many annual emergency training sessions, and the big gals can’t bend (stoop) down to pull the manual infaltion handle for the inflatable slide, which is located at the base of the door once it’s opened. I’ve seen the training instructors just shake their heads...but they have to pass them....the rules.
Besides, I don’t think a first class or business pax, paying the amount they do, should have to get up to get water. Count the first class seats in a 777 or 747....10-14. If three F/A’s, assigned to first class, can’t handle that on a 14 hour flight...and have to grumble because someone asked them for something, that’s sad. And I saw it on my recent flight....from a big F/A each time.
They should merge with the American Federation of Teachers, since they have the exact same priorities.
Veda Shook is not amused by the focus on looks and youth.
"I find it very offensive," said Shook, international vice president for the Association of Flight Attendants, the world's largest labor union for cabin crew members, representing more than 55,000 employees at 20 U.S. airlines.
"When a carrier views their selection process as a beauty pageant, it's really a setback to our profession on a global scale."
I would think a dwindling number of travelers willing to patronize US carriers due to poor flight attendant service would be an even bigger setback to her "profession" on a global scale, but that's just me... ;)
“...Flight Attendants are dispicable. Plus, there seems to be a push to hire homosexual males and crew them together.”
Yes, when I started, the rules were such that...
1. Once you turned 32 or got married, you had to resign. (I really don’t believe in that rule now.)
2. Also there were no male flight attendants.
3. We were weighed monthly. I went up to 118 one time... weighed with my uniform on. My supervisor called me in and said it was not acceptable, so I had to lose the weight, which I did.
I flew with homosexuals in recent years, and I’m one to say “live and let live.” I respected the ones who didn’t flaunt it, but there were some who were FLAMING in the aisles. It was always so embarassing. And you can’t tell me that wasn’t recognized during the hiring interview.
Today..anything goes, and it’s not good.
“Take Thy Pick.
Northwest does offer you the choice of an old cow or a gay male steward.”
Many years ago I went up to first class to help two guys who were working together. Joe Piscopo and that beautiful gal, whom he eventually married and divorced, decided that they wanted a bit of privacy, so they went into the lav together.
HA! If you wanted to see two flaming guys get pushed out of shape over that! They knocked on the door furiously and demanded they come out at once. I apologized to Joe later...he was laughing.
“I would think a dwindling number of travelers willing to patronize US carriers due to poor flight attendant service would be an even bigger setback to her “profession” on a global scale, but that’s just me... ;)”