Do Airlines Hire Overweight Flight Attendants?

You have always wanted to be a Flight Attendant, it’s your dream job, your goal and your ambition. You are perfect for the position: you have previous experience in customer service, a passion for aviation, and you speak 3 languages, you are the complete package.

Or are you?

Is your weight a factor in your getting or not getting this dream job?

Is being a size 16 really going to stop you being selected to be a flight attendant?

If you are not sure about the answer, you’ve come to the right place to find it out. Come with me and see for yourself.

The answer

Let’s face it.

Everyone knows there are certain jobs that value a person’s appearance.

When someone is searching for a job as a model, or fitness influencer it can make sense to require a certain weight.

It’s what that particular job is about.

But what is the job of flight attendant one that fits into those categories? Should weight be important for working as a cabin crew?

The answer depends on who you ask and, importantly, which country and which airline you are talking about.

Each of them have different standards.

 

In the USA

The U.S. is a good news story for flight attendants.

You’ve probably seen or heard that there are all sizes flight attendants working for major US airlines – tall, short, all races and from size 0 to 18.

So, to a reasonable extent, I would say that all kinds of body types in the US are accepted.

This is because for most American airlines, there are other aspects – clean record, customer service background, languages, etc – that are more important than your body image, which is exactly as it should be.

As long as you look polished and professional, then you are acceptable.

Provided that you meet all the other requirements, of course.

So, if you are thinking of applying in the USA and you feel unsure about your weight, relax, because there are not really any weight requirements as long as you are able to fit into the jumpseat with seatbelt and shoulder harness fastened.

If you are not too big for that jumpseat seatbelt, you are good to go!!

In East Asia

In East Asian countries such as China, Korea, Japan, Singapore, or the Philippines, the situation is much different.

As you probably know, most Asians are quite slim.

What’s not so well known is that they are also extremely weight-conscious.

There is a ‘slimness obsession’ that is part of their culture, which means that being fat or overweight is seen as unattractive for most people.

That mentality includes also the people in the airline industry. And that’s why most airlines in that part of the world recruit only slim, young and pretty candidates.

There is a lot of competition, so they pick the ones they want; well-educated, thin and beautiful.

In terms of actual weight rather than appearance, during the interview they will calculate or ask for your BMI (Body Mass Index), a measure that uses your height and weight to determine if your weight is healthy, underweight, overweight, or obese.

And if you are out of the range, you just don’t get selected.

Sometimes it can be exaggeratedly restrictive.

See the case of this Malaysia Airlines flight attendant fired for being 700 grams ‘overweight’.

In the Middle East

In India, Pakistan, and the Middle East – Emirates, Qatar, is a bit the same.

gulf air cabin crew job ad
See the ‘weight proportionate to height’ criteria

In airlines like the ones above, there are grooming supervisors dedicated to ensure flight attendants meet the airline’s image standards.

Which means that you can be grounded if you have weight issues.

So there is still a long way to go for airlines in the Middle East and Asia in general.

Hopefully change is on the way.

In Europe

In Europe, things are changing.

But you can still find a bit of everything, it’s a mix of a few old-fashioned airlines and others that are a bit more open-minded.

The good thing is that body positivity has been a trend in Western cultures for the last few years. And in European society in general, there is not really a fat-phobia, at least one that is not openly obvious.

Of course, there are still some airlines that hire only slender cabin crew and reject others with stupid excuses like “your English is not good enough”.

But in general, countries like France, UK, Ireland, Germany accept all bodies, shapes, and skin tone, challenging all beauty standards.

Note: take into account that Europe’s overweight standards are different from the US or Asian standards. Moderately overweight is ok, extremely overweight really won’t be acceptable.

So, my advice is:

If you want to be a flight attendant and you are worried about your weight:

  • Research the airline that you want to work for. Read the job description carefully and find out all the information that you can. Do they have height or weight requirements? How is their selection process?
  • If you have a contact who can help you find out more, by all means use her/him for information from an insider’s viewpoint. Ask about the interview, tips on what to wear, the physical requirements, examples of the group exercises, etc.
  • You can also search social media networks to get an idea of how do the flight attendants of that airline look like. Try for instance, try these hashtags: #deltacrew”, #jetbluefa, #airfrancecrew

The bottom line is the same for all aspects of applying for a flight attendant position – the more research you do, the better prepared you will be and the better prepared you will be, the better chance that you have.

After this, you probably have an idea on what to expect and what they expect.

So it’s time to decide if you want to give it a try.

But don’t focus your decision just on your weight.  Being likable in the interview is more valuable than being just thin or pretty.

While it’s desirable to have a healthy weight proportionate to height, there are other factors that managers seek:

  • prior experience
  • languages
  • team working skills
  • ability to work under pressure
  • etc.

You can be the prettiest, most attractive body, but if the HR recruiters don’t find in you what they are looking for, or they don’t connect with you, sorry, but you won’t make it.

Here are a few general tips for your interview: these may seem simple and applicable to all interview situations, but they are fundamental and extremely important.

  • Make sure that you show up looking sharp, polished and dressed appropriately
  • Be polite and socialize with other people during the day.
  • Arrive early.
  • Actively listen when your interviewer is speaking and show that you are paying attention.
  • Watch your body language. You want to show yourself open and interested. Smile when it’s appropriate.
  • Always stay positive. Don’t make any negative comments.

In the end, physical appearance is not everything.

There will still be cases where it’s important, but if you are smart, capable and charming, look professional and meet all the criteria, you can be successful.

Good luck!

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