Thai Airways Tells Workers to Lose Weight or Don't Fly

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Thai Airways flight attendants who have failed to meet new weight and shape standards are accusing the airline of discrimination.

The flight attendants are threatening to lodge a complaint with Thailand's National Human Right Commission over the standards, which were introduced last June, reports the Bangkok Post.

The new regulations say female flight attendants must be under a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 points and keep their waistline to 32 inches. Men are not exempt from the rules, either, and must stay under a BMI of 27.5 and a waistline of 35 inches.

The crew was given six months to lose the weight. Those who failed to do so lost their international flight allowances, and have been moved to domestic routes or single-day round trips.

Out of 6,000 flight attendants, 41 have failed to satisfy the requirements -- 28 of which are male. The airline says if employees do not lose the weight over a year they will be transferred to ground services.

Teerapol Chotechanapibal, a spokesman for Thai Airways, says it is necessary to maintain weight standards and denied the practice violated the rights of the crew. Chotechanapibal maintains the regulations were aimed at improving the personality and health of flight attendants, as well as the safety of passengers.

An anonymous flight attendant tells the news outlet the regulation was a form of discrimination because it applied only to flight attendants and not other Thai Airways staff.

A spokesperson for Thailand's Labour Protection and Welfare Department tells the Bangkok Post the regulation was not illegal and came within the authority of management, which was concerned about customer service.

Last August, Turkish Airlines gave 28 flight attendants six months to lose weight or face reassignment. But in December, cash-strapped Air India hired back flight attendants that the airline previously fired for being overweight.

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