Imagine not long after QZ8501 went down an airline advertisement reads:
“Our planes land at airports, not at sea.”
“Our planes may be older but they are safer.”
But the above never happened. Imagine if it was another airline that had gone down. Guess who would be quick to make fun of the situation?
It happened when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing in the Southern Indian Ocean. The Air Asia in-flight magazine came up with an extremely distasteful article:
Its latest victim is Malindo Air – after Malay Mail Online reported that cabin crew candidates were asked to strip.
Malindo Air has since denied the allegation.
According to a statement carried by The Star, the airline said each applicant was briefed for her consent on the process before the checks were carried out.
“Grooming checks for visible marks are conducted privately by female supervisors in a professional manner and is part of the interview process,” it said.
“Herein candidates are briefed ahead and consent from each candidate is required prior to proceeding to ensure that no prominent marks will be visible while wearing the uniform,” it said.
How different are the uniforms?
Malindo Air cabin crew wear a finer white kebaya top. If you have ugly scars or tattoos, they would show up easier than if you are wearing the uniforms of Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia.
As expected, Air Asia was quick to take a CHEAP shot at Malindo Air’s unfortunate episode:
Perhaps like Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Air Asia, tattoos that can be covered by the uniform are acceptable. No visible tattoos are allowed.
Emirates has a similar policy. Tattoos that are visible while wearing their uniform are not allowed. The tattoos cannot be covered by cosmetics or bandages.
Etihad Airways has the same policy as Emirates’s. You cannot have tattoos that are visible while wearing their uniform and no covering using cosmetics or bandages are allowed.
If you look at the uniform you would think that Qatar Airways has the same policy as the ones adopted by the airlines mentioned above.
Qatar Airways does not allow tattoos no matter where they are located – PERIOD. The airline did not hesitate to make redundant senior employees when the policy was introduced.
How do you think did the interviewers find out about where their tattoos are? By stuffing remote cameras inside the candidates’ clothes?
Generally, any airline policy would say that cabin crew cannot have visible distinctive marks, be they scars, birthmarks or tattoos.
Normally a candidate is required to declare if she has any of such mark on her body and where are they exactly positioned.
If the candidate refuses to declare such marks, it would eventually be found out during the physical or medical examination stage. If they find a mark that you have not declared, you will be asked to go home.
Even if you get employed and decide to have a tattoo, your airline medical examination will uncover this and your employment contract will be ceased immediately.
Singapore Airlines is strict on tattoos as well. Although more liberal than Malaysia is, visible tattoos, scars and marks are not allowed to be on any of its cabin crew.
This is firstly because of the branding of Singapore’s icon. Whoever had read the book “Branding Strategy: The Singapore Airlines Story” would know what I mean. Branding in Singapore Airlines lingo means uniformity – Asian hair (no blonde Asians), Asian features, similar makeup, nails and service attitude. You cannot even talk on your mobile phone while walking in the Singapore Girl uniform.
Secondly, the branding of Singapore Airlines, or of any airline for that matter, is about superficiality. Being in an airliner is like being in a five-star hotel. Everyone wants to be served by a pleasant and well-groomed waiter/waitress, or in this case, stewards and stewardesses.
So it is not as easy as Air Asia’s claim of zipping up and you can become a cabin crew no matter if you have pock marks or pus-filled acne on your face.
Malindo Air’s cabin crew, like the ones Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines have carry that image of elegance. You know you are not on board an Air Asia flight when on board any of the other three airlines mentioned.
In short, although it offers inexpensive fares, Malindo Air maintains its brand and class. It certainly does not feel like a no-frills airline.
If you look up the definition of no-frills you will see that it means, among others, providing only the basic necessary of service – in another word: CHEAP.