ABC News' Stu Schutzman reports:
It's literally "the battle of the bulge" says the Times of London, as Air India squares off against its flight attendants deemed unable to meet "company weight restrictions"...translation, they're considered too fat to fly. India's largest airline announced today it has fired ten of them, all women, for being "exceptionally overweight."
Air India began grounding "fat" flight attendants last summer empowered by India's Supreme Court. The Justices (12 men), in their infinite wisdom, backed the airline's contention that a flight attendant's physical appearance was part of her public "personality". Lawyers for the women offered the old fat-but-fit argument, the Justices would hear none of it, instead ruling "...there is no scope for any debate on overweight people." Ouch!
Air India's guidelines use a weight-to-height-to-age formula. An 18 year old woman who is 5 foot tall can weigh no more than 110 pounds. For a 25 year old, the limit would be 123 pounds. The airline says it warned its overweight employees to lighten up or else, some of whom it says tipped the scales as much as 70 pounds over the limit.
One of the women, fired after 27 years with the airline, says she has tried to diet but it's a struggle. "It's ridiculous," she told the Times, "weight is not an infectious disease." But it is, apparently, to Air India which is getting stiff competition from other regional carriers who are employing noticeably young, svelte, good-looking flight crews.
Air India may indeed have an image problem, but not because some flight attendants are a few pounds overweight. Whatever the opposite of PC run amok is, they seem to have captured it. Imagine anything remotely like this happening here in the US...never fly.