CHENNAI: It takes more than the perfect smile and a trained accent to be a cabin crew member. Weight too is a qualification for in the last five years, Air India has asked 295 cabin crew members, mostly women, based at Chennai airport to lose weight.
An RTI application filed by OnlineRTI.com reveals that of the 295, four were taken off permanently from flying duty after they failed to maintain the required Body Mass Index (BMI) or weight standards prescribed by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
BMI indicates `weight in proportion to height', which means whether a person is underweight, overweight and obese, or weighs appropriately for his or her height.DGCA guidelines say BMI of 18-25 is normal for a male cabin crew member while it is 18-22 for a female. A BMI of 2529.9 for male crew is treated as overweight and 30 and above is obese. BMI of 22-27 is overweight, and 27 and above is obese for female crew.
Statistics show that the number of Air India cabin crew members based in Chennai who have failed in BMI has come down from 65 in 2011-12 to 53 in 2015-16. However, the state airliner took off four crew members permanently from flying duty in 2014-15. The actual number of crew members who were taken off from the flying duty in airline industry could be higher as the rule is very stringent in private airlines. Air India officials said they declare `temporary unfit' the cabin crew who fail to reduce weight according to DGCA guidelines. If weight issues persist for more than 18 months, the crew would merit `permanent unfitness'.
"Such crew members will be assigned for an airport job which pays less than flying duty," said an official.
"Cabin crew declared unfit should undergo a gradual reduction of weight by a combination of diet, exercise and lifestyle change under periodic monitoring by the airline operator. Drastic weight reduction plans, medication and surgery for weight reduction have drawbacks which may affect the cabin crew adversely and are to be avoided," a DGCA circular reads.
Presently , Air India has 146 cabin crew staff based in Chennai which includes 78 permanent employees. An airline official said weights of cabin crew members were checked recently.
"They are grounded because they may not be able to perform emergency duty if they are overweight. Two to three chances are given. The problem is more with women.Many of them find it difficult to control BMI after pregnancy .A few of them volunteer for ground duty ," an official added.
Air India started to stress on appearance of cabin crew because during the UPA government, aviation ministry wanted the airline's crew to look smarter like private airlines. But former pilot and air safety expert captain Mohan Ranganathan said, "It's more of a sexist thing. An overweight person can be agile and a slim person may not have the fitness to perform duties on board." In 2009, an SC bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and H L Dattu, while hearing a petition filed by female cabin crew members who were dismissed for being overweight had said, "All the passengers will be happy if your air hostesses are good with them instead of (your adopting) this approach."
Original article can be found here: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com