American Airlines Just Suffered a Huge Embarrassment. But Is It Really the Airline's Fault?
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Frequent business flyers can be an insipid, self-regarding bunch.
They watch the masses troop to the back of the plane, sip on their champagne and smugly pat themselves on the back for their evident superiority.
Airlines pander to them, of course. They want their money on a repeat basis.
Sometimes, though, you have to wonder what goes through fine minds of so-called Elites.
Last weekend saw the release of a video — posted to Twitter by travel blogger Jamie Larounis — that starrred four female American Airlines Flight Attendants.
They were in slightly more alluring Flight Attendant attire than that normally seen on board.
And they were performing a skit in which they fawned all over a First Class passenger.
You know, um, sexily.
The organizers of this, oh, entertainment, reportedly were some Executive Platinum and Concierge Key customers. Yes, American’s most important passengers.
It was held at a private venue and was supposed to raise money for charity.
Some might be less than charitable on seeing that the performance featured a large American Airlines logo in the background.
It’s not clear who took this liberty, but American did offer a few items for auction at this event.
I feel fairly sure its brand image wasn’t one of them.
Perhaps this was all good clean, humorous insider fun for these privileged types.
The part, however, that may have caused a little more consternation was when the four female Flight Attendants began to dance — with alleged sexy intent — around a First Class passenger.
To heighten the steamy effect, they sang Big Spender.
Yes, of course a Flight Attendant ends up sitting on the customer’s lap. You needed to ask?
The song was first performed in 1966.
And goodness me, this skit wouldn’t have looked out of place then.
These days, however, it might reek to many of bilge-brained sexism.
The fawning Flight Attendants are, reports say, real Dallas-based American Airlines Flight Attendants.
Which led the The Association of Professional Flight Attendants — representing American’s Flight Attendants — to demand an investigation.
There was the suspicion, you see, that the airline had some involvement in all this.
The Transport Workers Union — which also represents many American Airlines employees — saw the invisible hand of American’s management in the show. It claims this is all part of the airline’s strategy:
Destroy blue collar America and expose air travelers to potential disaster by fixing AA planes on foreign soil, while simultaneously sexualizing and degrading their own flight attendants.
Naturally, I contacted American to ask for its view. It offered me the contents of a memo it sent on Sunday to all its staff. It read, in part:
This was not an American Airlines event. We did not have any say about the content of the event, nor did we preview any of the agenda. Additionally, we were particularly upset to see our logo on the screen as the skit was performed.
Well, indeed. American also said: “We are as upset as many of you are with the video.”
It didn’t, at least in this memo, specifically rail against its manifest sexism. (Its utter lack of actual humor might have deserved a mention, too.)
Larounis, at American’s request, removed the video. Sadly, thanks to the internet’s cloying immediacy, it soon proliferated far and wide.
Many will hiss and tut at those who performed in this abject display.
Somehow, though, I can’t help but consider those who laughed and applauded.
Flying regularly in First Class may have its privileges.
I wasn’t aware that permission to be a sad, myopic, dunderheaded Neaderthal was one of them.