Air India Just Suspended 57 Crew Members for Being “Overweight” (And Yes, It’s 2017)

Jan 20, 2017

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While the Women’s March on Washington is gaining an unprecedented amount of support from around the globe for women’s rights, Air India is making a statement of a different kind. Just days after introducing a controversial new “female-only” seating plan in its economy section, the carrier confirmed that it recently grounded 57 members of its cabin crew for being overweight. And yes, in case you’re wondering, it is still 2017.

In 2014, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) — India’s version of the FAA — updated its guidelines to include very specific requirements for cabin crew members in regard to vision, hearing and weight. According to these guidelines, airlines should be using body mass index (BMI) as a gauge for whether or not an employee can successfully perform his or her job duties. For men, this means having an ideal BMI of 18 to 25, or 18 to 22 for women — for what it’s worth, WebMD cites any BMI under 18.5 as being “underweight”.

DGCA rules dictate that if a crew member is found to be overweight, he or she is given a deadline to lose the weight. Those who are unsuccessful are deemed “temporarily unfit” to work the cabin and assigned to a ground position instead.

It’s not the first time Air India has gotten into hot water over its weight policy. In 2014, the airline warned 600 employees — more than 17% of its cabin crew — that they needed to lose weight in order to keep their jobs; nearly 130 of those employees ended up being let go in 2015. The reasoning behind all this? At the time, an airline official told The Telegraph that, “People who are fitter can respond quicker and more efficiently in case of any untoward situation.”

In the past, the All India Cabin Crew Association — an organization representing the country’s crew members — has been vocal about their issues with these guidelines, calling them “arbitrary and discriminatory” and raising important questions about the ability of flight attendants to conduct their jobs appropriately regardless of how much he or she may weigh. Only time will tell how the group will react to this latest action.

What do you think about all this? Sound off, below.

H/T: Business Insider

Featured image courtesy of Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.

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