• The Story of the 59 year old American Air Hostess: Think she’d have made it in India?

    Part of Virgin Atlantic’s reinvention process is to reinvent the ridiculous  benchmark that an Air-hostess aspirant has to look up to. Young and hot, tall and leggy was how they all came, but Atlantic has attempted to change that by bringing aboard a 59 year old grandma of 11 as their latest recruit on the air crew.


    Katrine Haynes is just some weeks away from her 60th birthday, but decided to pursue her long-standing dream of being a flight attendant anyway. “It’s what I’ve been wanting to do for 25-30 years, and I feel the time is right,” she confessed to Telegraph.co.uk.


    The grandmom of 11 has always had a nest full of little birdies that needed her attention, but now that her children have grown up, she feels she can do justice to the job she has always yearned for. “I haven’t gone for it before, because I had young children so I couldn’t give 110 per cent to the role at the time.”


    In a 48-hour recruitment drive organized by the American commercial airliner company, Virgin Atlantic chose to give “flight” to the ambitions of the one most unlikely candidate – on presumably unbiased grounds such as her passion for the profile, and her skill in the field. Moreover, they also set a precedent for other recruiters and encouraged them to expand their horizons while making hires.


    This attitude especially needs to travel halfway across the world to our country. Our air hostesses look like clones of each other, with zero diversity – not in body-type, definitely not in age. In fact, the Hindi translation for Air hostess is “Hawai Sundari” which in itself is discriminatory against women who were not born with a “genetic lottery” of good looks.


    The one Airline which employs women independent of their physiognomy, but istead of being lauded, they have only been ridiculed by many an entity – passengers of course, but also comedians, journalists, writers and pretty much anybody who has the invincible combo of unsolicited opinions and social media. I have been one of them too, having grown up in the same superficial society as my fellow countrymen. However, my conscience started pricking me sooner than my peers, whenever I would reduce perfectly lovely and warm women to their vital statistics and beauty pageant winning potential.


    This hate speech only exposes the deeply entrenched shallowness in our mindsets. Moreover, there is something deeply disturbing about us as a population, still looking to be fed grapes by hour-glassy women propped on either arm of our chair. Our idea of air travel is the exact modern-day version of this analogy. Ask yourself how many times you have described an air voyage as bland, un-stimulating, bad even- and gave the ‘unattractiveness’ of the staff as one of the reason?


    It is bizarre that our eyes still look for these ridiculous conventions of beauty to be sufficiently entertained. And even more absurd, that we are looking to treat those eyes while we are doing something as mundane as traveling. Neither the staff, nor the airlines owes us anything apart from trained pilots, hospitable staff, comfortable seats, healthy food, and perhaps ear-plugs when your ears are about to explode while landing. Over and above that, the Hawai Sundaris may well be 59 year old grannies- as long as they love their job, are good at their work, and don’t spit in our meals.


    Image Credits: Telegraph.co.uk