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Dancing flight attendants in Philippines cause concern

Video of air stewardesses dancing while delivering flight safety instructions prompts concern from a union

  • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent
  • Published: 08:00 October 6, 2010
  • Gulf News

Cebu Pacific’s dancing flight attendant
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Cebu Pacific’s dancing flight attendant campaign started last Thursday and going by the reviews on YouTube, it’s here to stay.

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".

Read reaction from expats in Dubai and around the world

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".

Labour dispute

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.

Comments (13)

  1. Added 09:27 October 7, 2010

    I agree with Zeeshan, that these days Women are subjugated to unnecessary pressure which is a kind of exploitation. Women of today have become Entertainment Toy, even to sell a loaf of bread they are forced to show their skin. What surprise me more is to see women appearing in adverts of commodities like motorbilkes which women seldom ride. Its a shear exploitation of dignity of a women which was well preserved in the past

    I. Malik, Dubai, Afghanistan

  2. Added 08:24 October 7, 2010

    This will make the steward job difficult. Air hostess job is to serve people in the flight not entertainment. If anybody needs entertainment, there are other ways too. There are all kinds of people in the flight and air hostess have all the rights to have dignity and respect. This will create a definite chaos and it should be condemn.

    Adeel, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 00:29 October 7, 2010

    Come on... this... a breach of safety? It's a basic learning tool... using music and actions to deliver an otherwise boring and dry message. I mean how many people actually paid attention to their demonstration now? If you think this is sexist, think again. I flew with Cebu Pacific several times in the past and their uniforms are polo shirts and khaki pants. Other airlines have done much, much more daring stunts. Check out Air New Zealand's video where their crew are wearing nothing but body paint or Thomson Airways which used toddlers to deliver the point.

    Mike, Dubai, Afghanistan

  4. Added 20:24 October 6, 2010

    I don't support this initiative at all; its an aircraft, not a night club! the least they should have done was avoid the dirty moves and done it more gracefully to 'entertain and relax' people onboard - as per the previous supportive comments. It gives a very demeaning image of the philipino women unfortunately. I hope the airline management seriously considers re-choreographing the dance moves if not remove the whole idea altogether.

    SAZ, Toronto, Canada

  5. Added 17:35 October 6, 2010

    I believe women are subjected to unnecessary pressure and expectations from society. Inside, they all want to stayin the kitchen and look after the needs of their families. Prancing around in skirts on an airplane does not garnish respect for the opposite sex.

    Zeeshan Dogar, Toronto, Canada

  6. Added 15:17 October 6, 2010

    I agree that it is demeaning to in-flight crew worldwide. In fact, the entire show was in complete disregard of the norms set by IATA and flight safety governing bodies. Concerned authorities may have to look into the legal aspects of this "event", even if it was a "one of test demo".

    Raymond, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 15:13 October 6, 2010

    This is cool, a new way of doing things and people should get used to it. Other airlies should learn from them. If it gets the people's attention then great. Airline announcements are boring.

    Nancy, Brett, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 15:07 October 6, 2010

    There is nothing unsound in this presentation. Moreover, this is a very nice demonstration. Surely, the passengers will pay more attention to the instructions rather than to presenting the same in a monotonous way. Nowadays, we hear more news regarding flight mishaps. This kind of treatment will force the passengers to get into a relaxed mood before the take off. Nice initiative.

    LAL JOHNS, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 14:06 October 6, 2010

    as Filipino working in Dubai, I'm really thinking of flying back home and visit the whole archipelago via Cebu Pacific. This is a very effective way to perk up the sleepy travellers! I just wish I could have my leave approved more than 2x in a year... all smile!

    Robert, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 13:11 October 6, 2010

    Admit it, (specially for people who usually travel) we are no longer interested to listen to the Safety Demo done by the cabin crews. I believe that this was a good move to encourage the passengers to listen. I cannot see the point wherein the cabin crews can be seen as sex objects as the ladies are dancing in a decent manner. Com on dirty dancing is different from just a simple demo dance.

    Keon, Sta. Rosa, Philippines

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