A European airline has introduced regulations requiring its women flight attendants wear high heels to work.
As of this month, compulsory high heels for all women cabin crew are among some 20 pages worth of dress code regulations implemented by international airline Norwegian Air.
Norwegian Air is among the largest low-cost carriers in the world, flying to more than 150 destinations in the world, and transports tens of millions of passengers per year.
Among the requirements of its dress code, women must wear high heels at all times – a regulation that has drawn international ire – with flight attendants only exempt from its policy if they carry medical certificates.
Norway’s Socialist Left Party (SV) leader of the women’s political committee, Ingrid Hødnebø, said the airline was caught in the “Mad Men universe”.
“My immediate reaction is that it is almost comical that this is a problem in 2019,” Hødnebø said to local Norwegian news provider Verdens Gang (VG). “While the rest of the community has moved on, Norwegian is stuck in the ‘Mad Men’ universe from the 50s/60s.”
“A rule that requires women to wear high heels is direct discrimination.”
The State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Gender Equality Frida Blomgren backed Hødnebø, saying Norwegian Air’s new regulations are “incredibly old-fashioned”.
Astrid Mannion-Gibson senior communications advisor at Norwegian Air told VG the regulations had not been a problem internally.
“Norway’s flying crew must follow the company’s uniform regulations. The uniform is neutral and discreet and yes, it is true that different demands are made on men and women when it comes to makeup, hair etc. This is quite common with other airlines,” Mannion-Gibson said.
“Regarding [VG’s] question about heel, this is primarily to prevent the cabin crew from going with so-called ballerina shoes that are not to be recommended for health reasons,” Mannion-Gibson said.
The announcement comes just over a month after international airline Virgin Atlantic made the decision to relax its dress-code standards, removing a longstanding requirement for its women crew members to wear cosmetics to work.
Atlantic will also allow its women flight attendants the option of wearing trousers instead of skirts on flights – an option that Virgin’s counterpart in Australia has had for almost two decades.
Flight attendants on board Virgin Australia aircraft have had the option to wear trousers since the airline began flying as Virgin Blue in 2000.
“We want our cabin crew to be as comfortable as possible in themselves and while on board, considering the amount of time they spend travelling between different destinations. Since our Virgin Blue days, our female cabin crew have had the option to wear trousers,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson said.
“We are also looking at our uniform style guide so that we can maintain a modern aesthetic for our crew, and ensure that our dress requirements are always culturally and professionally appropriate.”