Unveiling the Most Absurd and Unfair Flight Attendant Requirements

unfair flight attendant requirements

Did you know that some airlines have some pretty absurd and unfair requirements for the flight attendants they hire?

The industry has a long history of hiring a very particular type of person, but to what extent has this tradition continued into the twenty-first century?

We were pretty shocked and enraged to learn about a few of these strange prerequisites.

Join us for a turbulent journey as we explore the infuriating and bizarre requirements some airlines still demand their flight attendants to meet. At the end, we’ve compiled a list of airlines with super strict and unfair requirements.

1) Age

Did you know some airlines will only hire people under thirty!? As an early 90s baby myself, I was appalled to find out I am now too old to be hired by airlines like Gulf Air which has an official age cut-off of 30-years-old.

And can you believe that to be hired by Air Arabia you have to be younger than 26!

Other Middle Eastern airlines, like Etihad and Qatar have no official age limit, but have historically not hired anyone over 35. Asian airlines are also notorious for implementing somewhat inflexible age requirements on their flight attendants.

In fact, in 2022 a 50-year-old woman working for a Chinese airline was let go for being “too-old.” 😱

Thankfully, the number of airlines that have given up their ageist hiring practices far outnumber those that still engage in age-based discrimination, and this flight attendant was able to restart her career with a European carrier.

2) Gender

Some airlines will only hire females and therefore actively discriminate against men, transgender women, and non-binary people.

Unfortunately, this type of discrimination is not uncommon with Southeast Asian airlines.

Candidates for one Malaysian airline even reported having to take their tops off to “prove” their gender.

What is most shocking, in my opinion, is that these discriminatory hiring practices aren’t even left over from a bygone era.

No! GoAir, a low-cost airline based in India made the decision to stop hiring men in 2013 in order to save money on jet fuel. 🤯

3) Marital Status

Married? Then you would be out of luck applying to work for Gulf Air, which requires their flight attendants to be single.

Once hired you have to ask permission to get married.

Back in the ye-old days of the 1950s airlines all over the world required flight attendants to quit upon getting engaged. Why on earth is this still a policy in place at any airline today? The mind boggles.

Although Qatar Airlines will occasionally hire already married women, if you were hired before getting engaged, you are also required to notify the company that you wish to get married.

4) Maternal Status

Similar to not being married, some airlines have very strict rules about starting families while working for them.

Gulf Air and Qatar Airways have been known to fire flight attendants if they fall pregnant.

Qatar Airways recently received some bad press for firing flight attendants who become pregnant.

To improve their public image, Qatar has started allowing pregnant flight attendants to assume different roles with the airline once their pregnancy is known.

Etihad Airlines also forbids flight attendants from becoming pregnant within the first three years of their careers with the airline.

After three years flight attendants still need to notify the airline of their pregnancy and could be grounded until their baby is born.

5) Weight

So many of the flight attendants I flew with still had noticeably disordered eating from years of having their weight checked each time they reported for a trip.

The US outlawed specific weight requirements for flight attendants in 1991, but some airlines still have absurd weight restrictions.

Air India, for example, requires its flight attendants to have a “below average” BMI and will even fire employees who do not stay thin after being hired.

Even with protections against weight discrimination, it is good to keep in mind that all airlines are permitted to require flight attendants to be small enough to fit through the window exit without any part of their body touching the edges of the window frame. It is also a requirement that flight attendants be able to properly fasten the jump seat harness at its largest setting.

In countries like the US, airlines are allowed to enforce these weight loss requirements because they are intended to ensure the safety of would-be flight attendants.

6) Height

Height requirements are quite common in the airline industry, but some airlines are stricter than others.

For the most part as long as you are tall enough to reach the safety equipment in the overhead bin, you are tall enough to become cabin crew, (typically about 5 ft tall). But some airlines are a little more “concerned” about the height of their flight attendants.

The requirements become ridiculous when the height minimums clearly exceed what is necessary to carry out the related responsibilities.

Airlines that require women to be 5 ft 6 or taller, for example, are clearly trying to use “safety” as an excuse to justify casting people of a certain body type.

7) Image

Back in the day it was pretty well known that airlines hired beautiful people, meaning you had to be thin, tall, have a clear complexion, and no visible scars. Such discriminatory requirements are mostly a thing of the past, but there are still some airlines with really crazy “image requirements” including:

  • Requiring flight attendants to have specific complexion, clear skin, and no visible scars.
  • Forbidding flight attendants from having any tattoos at all, even if they would be covered in uniform.
  • Dictating the hairstyles and makeup that must be worn while in uniform.
  • Hiring only flight attendants with ample chests.
  • Issuing overly sexualized uniforms, including bikinis.

Airlines are notoriously strict about their employee’s grooming habits, tattoos, piercings, and hairstyles but these examples go a bit beyond the current industry norms.

8) Smoking Habits

We all know it’s illegal to smoke on planes, but being a smoker is a disqualifying habit for flight attendants working for Qatar Airlines or Fly-a-Deal.

On a practical note, I can imagine it is really hard to be a smoker when working as a flight attendant.

Oftentimes you will have to work a full 16-hour day without ever getting a chance to take a smoke break. I’m not personally a smoker, but this seems like it might be quite uncomfortable.

As such, I highly recommend quitting if you want to be a flight attendant.

9) Perfect Eyesight

While most airlines allow flight attendants to wear glasses or contacts to correct their eyesight (to a point), some airlines go a step further and require their crew members to have perfect eyesight without corrective lenses.

Apparently, Thai Airways does not allow their flight attendants to wear glasses or contacts. They must have 20/20 vision.

In many ways this is discrimination. Being slightly near-sighted is a disability, but not one that interferes with someone’s duties as a flight attendant.

Which is why most airlines simply stipulate that you have to be able to achieve 20/20 vision with corrective lenses.

10) Education

Most airlines require candidates to have a high school degree or equivalent school-finishing qualification but there are some airlines that take things a step further and require other types of education, such as:

  • Nursing licenses.
  • Diplomas from a flight attendant academy. (Though this is rare these days.)
  • Etiquette courses.
  • Bachelor’s degrees.

Although not all airlines require bachelor’s degrees, airlines have statically been known to prefer candidates who have completed an undergraduate degree.

11) Swimming, Self-Defense, and Wilderness Survival

Some airlines will require flight attendants to take courses on swimming, self-defense, and/or wilderness survival.

I remember being taught about all the things I could use in the galley to knock someone out, if necessary.

That was a wild time. Other airlines require their flight attendants to learn how to tread water, or survive in extreme climates like the Arctic, or the jungle.

Examples in Real Life

There are some airlines that just go too far with their absurd requirements. We have compiled a list of some of these airlines and their crazy requirements for you here. Enjoy! (Or not).

➡️ Thai Airways

Thai Airways checks off several of the bizarre requirements we talked about above. You can see the full job posting below, but here are the highlights.

  • All flight attendants must be Thai Nationals
  • Women are required to be single; men are not
  • Perfect eyesight without glasses

flight attendant absurd thai airways requirements

➡️ Royal Jordanian

Royal Jordanian certainly has controversial hiring practices too!

  • Only women
  • Must be younger than 30

flight attendant absurd female requirements

➡️ Air India

Air India is very selective. Here are some of the unusual requirements their flight attendants must meet.

  • Women must be within the BMI range of 18-22. (For reference, “healthy” goes up to 24.)
  • Must be 27 or younger. Unless transferring airlines, then the maximum age goes up to 35
  • All flight attendants must hold a current Indian passport

flight attendant absurd air india requirements

➡️ Fly a Deal

In case you are scratching your head, Fly a Deal is Saudi Arabia’s low-cost carrier. They tripped our strange requirement sniffers with the following criteria:

  • All flight attendants must be non-smokers
  • Candidates need to be in “excellent health and fitness.” (Which is typically code for thin.)

flight attendant absurd flyadeal requirements

➡️ Vistara Air

This airline, like some of the others on this list, have stricter rules for women than they do for men.

  • Women must have a BMI between 18 and 22
  • Men, on the other hand, can have a BMI up to 25
  • Must be 27 or younger

flight attendant absurd vistara air requirements

Final Thoughts

Though we aren’t discouraging you from working for any of the airlines mentioned in this article. It is pretty clear that some airlines insist on having some unfair, sexist, and absurd requirements for their crew members. 

If you, like me, would be disqualified from working at any of the airlines named above, don’t despair!

There are plenty of airlines all over the world that have far more inclusive hiring practices. North American and European airlines, in particular, are subjected to anti-discrimination laws, meaning they literally cannot get away with enforcing certain BMIs, etc.

I also want to close by mentioning the fact that the United Nations has stepped in and issued statements condemning airlines like Etihad, Qatar, and Gulf Air for their discrimination against flight attendants who want to get married and/or start a family.

We hope this article was amusing but also informative.

It is important to keep pushing the industry to become more inclusive, but whatever the case may be; if you don’t want to work for such restrictive airlines, you don’t have to! 

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