Travel

Qatar Airways CEO calls U.S. flight attendants ‘grandmothers,’ riling unions and prompting Delta response

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 24th, 2017 10:57 pm
[OP]
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Qatar Airways CEO calls U.S. flight attendants ‘grandmothers,’ riling unions and prompting Delta response

http://airport.blog.ajc.com/2017/07/11/ ... -response/
At a gala at an InterContinental hotel in Dublin, Ireland last week to celebrate Qatar Airways’ launch of its Dublin-Doha route, Al Baker told the audience that “the average age of my cabin crew is only 26 years.”

“So there is no need for you to travel on these crap American carriers,” Al Baker said. “You know you’re always being served by grandmothers on American carriers.”


I've observed the same phenomenon myself. Asian carriers tend to have younger flight attendants whereas they come in all ages on NA carriers. Thoughts?
57 replies
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Nov 24, 2008
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I'll bite.

Obviously, North America is more progressive in that ageism and sexism are being overcome. Lots of work to do in that regard, but when you compare the airlines as Akbar did, you can see the visible results of progress. Of course, it also highlights the sour ageism and sexism of Akbar himself.

And finally, if anyone here starts commenting on the differences of the staff along the lines of Akbar's comments, this thread will be reported since grandmothers definitely have the right to work whatever your preference is.
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Mar 6, 2015
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So long as I continue to get my lukewarm beverage and little baggy with two peanuts in it I couldn't care less who it's being served by.
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Well part of it is the "sales/image" aspect of the airline, but part of it is probably also unions, labor contracts/laws, company structure and such.

North American airlines probably have different labor contracts stating that you can't be fired/laid off based on your age.
Or conversely, maybe Asian/Middle Eastern carriers have different career progression paths once you've reached a certain age to try and "move" you away from the customer facing role.
Could also be cultural; maybe customer-facing roles aren't viewed as "proper" past a certain age so the people tend to want to move out of those jobs once they grow older?

I'm sure there's a bunch of different factors involved.
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I have nothing against grandmothers; I actually had two of them.

Having said that, I can attest to the idea that Qatar Airways has some fantastic looking sky waitresses and have no qualms admitting that I like the look of younger women better than 'grannies'.

There, I said it and I'm sure I'm not alone. :rolleyes:
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I know a former flight attendant for CX. She says it's quite well known that CX and SQ will promote/"transition" people away from the cabin at 35. She managed to get her 10 years to keep her permanent interline fares before this was forced on her. It happens in North America as well, just under different pretenses...
uber_shnitz wrote: Well part of it is the "sales/image" aspect of the airline, but part of it is probably also unions, labor contracts/laws, company structure and such.

North American airlines probably have different labor contracts stating that you can't be fired/laid off based on your age.
Or conversely, maybe Asian/Middle Eastern carriers have different career progression paths once you've reached a certain age to try and "move" you away from the customer facing role.
Could also be cultural; maybe customer-facing roles aren't viewed as "proper" past a certain age so the people tend to want to move out of those jobs once they grow older?

I'm sure there's a bunch of different factors involved.
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In case of emergency where passengers have to be evacuate, isn't it better to have younger flight attendants who may be more athletic?
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Nothing positive can come out of this thread...
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I don't care about age of flight attendants. What I do care is service I'm getting and Qatar airline is miles better than any NA airlines I have flown with (AC, Westjet, United, Delta)
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Oops, double post
(see below)
Last edited by PointsHubby on Jul 14th, 2017 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rothesay wrote: In case of emergency where passengers have to be evacuate, isn't it better to have younger flight attendants who may be more athletic?
Not if they sprint away like a scared little rabbit.

EXPERIENCE trumps beauty I say (so 26 with 6 years is not going to add up to 35 with with 15, or 40 with 20)

Clearly this CEO has his prejudices about women, beauty & age.  Just seeing Flight Attendants as an extension of the Beauty Contest Runway... He's well stuck in the 1960s

Air travel has changed drastically since then

In this day & age of air travel I want ALL MY FLIGHT ATTENDANTS (whatever their Gender or Age) to exhibit the ability to take charge and remain calm, and get the job done.. Whatever that might be

Look at all the cases where there have been emergencies on flights in recent years...

There have been Customers who are drunk & disorderly (mouthy), pitched fits, and started fist fights

There have been medical emergencies (heart attacks - strokes - birthed babies etc)

And there have been the worst of things... Flight emergencies (aircraft distress) or Hijacks & Terrorists

Being a Flight Attendant is not an easy job.  Never has been.  But I'd say now more than ever.

ADD - I would add that there is nothing wrong with being a young Flight Attendant ... Everyone has to start somewhere.  And more power to that person if they are mature beyond their years & can take charge in a crisis.  But equally is there nothing wrong if the SENIOR (lol) Flight Attendant with their training & experience who can stay calm, and motivate others in an Emergency Situation.  I remember the public inquiries into various Cdn Air Crashes (with Survivors) and sometimes the younger crew would say they were just too stunned to move, until someone more senior on the staff took charge barking out orders... Then they just naturally responded because it was like they were on auto-pilot, my boss needs me to do this (so job in this instance took the place of what was the natural reaction of self preservation... Which is essentially as pax we'd hope that Flight Crew would do in the worst of situations)

So the best of both worlds... Those both younger & athletic, as well as older and experienced. Thankfully that is the example displayed by the majority of airlines in the west
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Rothesay wrote: In case of emergency where passengers have to be evacuate, isn't it better to have younger flight attendants who may be more athletic?
Not really.
Was on a WestJet flight where the attendants were late 30's year old men....I would choose Grandmothers LOL
Really, for a CEO trying to sell pretty young faces? Had he been in North America saying that the news would have been all over him for being a misogynist LOL
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His mistake was that he missed the real source of poor service on North American carriers. It's not the older women. It's the UNIONS.

What he should have said is: "At Qatar Airways I'm the boss. What I say, goes. And as the boss, I give my customers what they want because ultimately the customers pay my salary. Frequent fliers are dirty old rich men so I give them 20-something hoochie FA's to look at on my planes who also give great service. In America, the unions are the boss. High seniority, lazy, can't be fired, get away with bad service. Their airlines have lost control. Too bad so sad. I will always be #1 because I keep unions out. Take that, Delta!"

The comments on this page speak volumes about the attitudes of elite frequent fliers (again, the people who pay his salary and keep Qatar Airways in business):
http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/ ... s-comment/

You can try to shove political correctness down everybody's throats via the media, public shaming/bullying, etc... but these guys are voting against PC, with their wallets and the Qatar Airways CEO is just telling it like it is. Money talks BS walks...
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EastGTARedFlagger wrote: His mistake was that he missed the real source of poor service on North American carriers. It's not the older women. It's the UNIONS.

What he should have said is: "At Qatar Airways I'm the boss. What I say, goes. And as the boss, I give my customers what they want because ultimately the customers pay my salary. Frequent fliers are dirty old rich men so I give them 20-something hoochie FA's to look at on my planes who also give great service. In America, the unions are the boss. High seniority, lazy, can't be fired, get away with bad service. Their airlines have lost control. Too bad so sad. I will always be #1 because I keep unions out. Take that, Delta!"

The comments on this page speak volumes about the attitudes of elite frequent fliers (again, the people who pay his salary and keep Qatar Airways in business):
http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/ ... s-comment/

You can try to shove political correctness down everybody's throats via the media, public shaming/bullying, etc... but these guys are voting against PC, with their wallets and the Qatar Airways CEO is just telling it like it is. Money talks BS walks...
Can't be more wrong

Qatar and other middle Eastern airlines are only able to be successful because they're subsidized by the govt

Nothing to do with unions
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EastGTARedFlagger wrote: His mistake was that he missed the real source of poor service on North American carriers. It's not the older women. It's the UNIONS.

What he should have said is: "At Qatar Airways I'm the boss. What I say, goes. And as the boss, I give my customers what they want because ultimately the customers pay my salary. Frequent fliers are dirty old rich men so I give them 20-something hoochie FA's to look at on my planes who also give great service. In America, the unions are the boss. High seniority, lazy, can't be fired, get away with bad service. Their airlines have lost control. Too bad so sad. I will always be #1 because I keep unions out. Take that, Delta!"

The comments on this page speak volumes about the attitudes of elite frequent fliers (again, the people who pay his salary and keep Qatar Airways in business):
http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/ ... s-comment/

You can try to shove political correctness down everybody's throats via the media, public shaming/bullying, etc... but these guys are voting against PC, with their wallets and the Qatar Airways CEO is just telling it like it is. Money talks BS walks...
Sorry, I will always put the blame squarely on the Airline Industry vs the Flight Crew

Sure, they are unionized (and anyone knowing the history of this industry knows WHY that came to be) ... It had to happen

I watch people work. Flight Attendants are hard working folks with lots of responsibilities (a job description that has clearly grown over time)

I would be ard pressed to find anyone on a flight that I could term "lazy"
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PointsHubby wrote: Sorry, I will always put the blame squarely on the Airline Industry vs the Flight Crew

Sure, they are unionized (and anyone knowing the history of this industry knows WHY that came to be) ... It had to happen

I watch people work. Flight Attendants are hard working folks with lots of responsibilities (a job description that has clearly grown over time)

I would be ard pressed to find anyone on a flight that I could term "lazy"
I flew to Asia on EVA Air in May, and then came back on Cathay Pacific. On both flights, the service was in a completely different league than anything I've ever experienced on, say, Air Canada or Alaska. Oh, and the crew on the Cathay Pacific flight was Vancouver-based (i.e. they're Canadians), so it's definitely not a nationality or culture thing.

If the difference is, as you claim, not due to incompetent airline management and lazy unionized staff, then what's your explanation? Are Air Canada flight attendants somehow kept busy by tons of tasks that Cathay Pacific flight attendants are magically free from, which hinders the ability of Air Canada's flight attendants to provide an equally high level of service quality?
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Doubleshot wrote: Can't be more wrong

Qatar and other middle Eastern airlines are only able to be successful because they're subsidized by the govt

Nothing to do with unions
Are you suggesting Air Canada was as good as the Middle Eastern and Asian carriers when it was still a Crown corporation owned/subsidized by the feds? Come on...
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Conquistador wrote: The outrage can subside now. He has apologized for his comments.

http://fortune.com/2017/07/13/qatar-air ... ndmothers/
We're not outraged. Ugly sexist, misogynistic CEO can say whatever he wants about Delta flight attendants. What he says totally proves that he, his company and the people supporting his comments are sexist, misogynistic and ageist and as a result will most likely lose more customers than he gains.

As quoted from the article you link, Sara Nelson, AFA's president pretty much nails it when she made her first comment about the situation:
Straight from Akbar Al Baker lips, he confirms what AFA has said all along: Qatar Airways thrives on misogyny and discrimination. Qatar is not only seeking to choke out U.S. Aviation, but also the 300,000 good jobs built through opportunity created on the principle of equality," she wrote. "There is no room for a separation of humanity in air travel or in an emergency. Flight Attendants are onboard to save lives and every life counts. If you prop up Qatar Airways you are supporting sexism, racism, and ageism. Period."
[OP]
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I don't see how the comments made by Qatar Airways CEO was misogynistic, or sexist. He used age to make a point which makes him ageist at worst. Some companies and industries see visual appeal as part of the service/product and there's nothing wrong with that.

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