Manila: The video of air stewardesses dancing to pop music while delivering flight safety instructions to passengers aboard a regional carrier, has prompted concern from a union for flight attendants.
The short film of dancing Cebu Pacific flight attendants has been uploaded on YouTube and is currently enjoying considerable popularity, but a statement issued by the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) says it's "deeply perturbed" by the clip, as well as the effect it will have on the image of Filipino stewardesses.
FASAP says that while the dancing stewardesses may appear to be simply a harmless publicity stunt to attract passengers, "in the long run the stereotyping of flight attendants as entertainers will surely have a negative and sexist impact in the minds of the public".
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The FASAP members are flight attendants from Philippine Airlines, which happens to be Cebu Pacific's chief rival in the local and regional route. And now the union is accusing Cebu Pacific of staging a promotional ploy, "at the expense of the unwitting female-dancer-flight attendants".
Cebu Pacific introduced the gimmick on September 30, about the same time that FASAP was in the middle of a labour dispute with PAL management over a number of issues, some of them gender-based. FASAP wants PAL to improve the image of flight attendants, moving away from seeing them merely as ‘sex objects' and ‘cocktail waitresses'.
The union suggests doing this by getting rid of its 40 to 45-year-old age limit. Rather than helping to change the stereotypical image, the dancing flight attendants are considered to be furthering it.
"This ‘gender insensitive' packaging is a throwback to the unenlightened past during the '50s and '60s, when stewardesses were made to wear hot pants and mini-skirts to appeal to the dominantly male business travellers.
"To make them dance in front of passengers is a new low. This kind of practice has been abandoned by other airlines worldwide, being discriminatory and unacceptable to modern times," FASAP said.
The statement added that flight attendants are safety professionals and that requiring them to dance in front of passengers is demeaning and undignified.
The YouTube video of Cebu Pacific's dancing flight attendants is currently among the hot topics on and off the web. The two-and-a-half minute video has had more than four million hits. It has also featured in news programmes abroad including CNN's AC 360 with Anderson Cooper.