Last week it was widely reported that Heather Cho – the 40-year-old daughter of Korean Airlines chairman Cho Yang-ho – was sentenced to a year in prison after an epic outburst on a December 9, 2014 Korean Airlines flight from New York to Seoul, South Korea.
Cho, a vice president at Korean Airlines, was sitting in first class when a flight attendant handed her macadamia nuts in a bag as the plane was taxiing to a runway for takeoff. Expecting the nuts to be served on a plate, she began to question the cabin chief. After verbally and physically assaulting the man (at one point, she allegedly forced him to kneel down before her and beg for forgiveness), she ordered the plane to taxi back to the gate so the cabin chief could be removed from the flight, which ended up being delayed for over 20 minutes.
In the wake of the ‘nut rage’ incident, Cho resigned her vice presidency at Korean Airlines, but held onto her positions in other parts of the family business. Last week, she received a jail sentence of 12 months for jeopardizing flight safety. She is currently appealing the decision.
While the ‘nut rage’ story might seem bizarre, it isn’t nearly as off-putting as a story reported last week in the Washington Post. It seems that Qatar Airlines and a host of other airlines in Asia are living in an uncivilized era where labor standards and women’s rights don’t seem to be a priority.
According to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (an industry trade union group), Qatar Airways will only hire female flight attendants that are single, and they must remain unmarried for at least five years after beginning their employment.
If a female flight attendant wants to get married, they have to ask the airline’s permission.
If they become pregnant, they have to inform the airline immediately … even though the pregnancy can be grounds for termination.
Doesn’t sound like it can get much worse, right? It can.
Unfortunately for these women, being terminated from the airline likely means they will be deported. Roughly 90 percent of Qatar Airways’ staff are foreigners that are only allowed to live in Doha because of their employment.
While Qatar Airways ranks among the worst in terms of restrictions, other Asian airlines maintain practices not seen since the swinging 60’s.
– China Southern Airlines holds an annual contest for prospective female flight attendants that includes a swimsuit pageant.
– Vietnam-based VietJet held a swimsuit pageant of its own three years ago – on one of their flights.
– Asiana Airlines flight attendants must adhere to strict guidelines on makeup color, nail length and hairstyle (a bun with a maximum of two bobby pins).
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