Sexy Asian Women Make Flying Better
March 30, 2013

Sexy Asian Women Make Flying Better

Flying can be a pain in the butt, but can a crew of scantly clad, young, sexy Asian women make it easier? More importantly, does it sell more fares?

Sex sells. It’s nothing new, and it’s been going on since the dawn of time, so what’s all the fuss about now?

Budget Thailand airline, Nok Air has been the focus of some recent controversy in the media. In a recent brand awareness effort, they published a calendar that equates somewhat to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar meets flight attendant, but a little less racy.

In the calendar, Nok Air acquired Asian Maxim models and photographed them in and around their giant yellow jets. As if it weren’t enough to have famed gorgeous supermodels, they had the young ladies dressed in bikinis.

Some folks are pleased, others not so much.

According to CNN Travel, “I kind of expected it to be fairly controversial, but at the end of the day more people ended up liking it than hating it,” says Patee Sarasin, Nok Air’s chief executive officer.

“When it debuted on Facebook, we had over 200,000 likes. I’m happy.”

The controversy seems to be less about the calendar and the bikini clad models and more about the global exposure of Nok Air’s hiring and recruiting practices.

Flight attendants must be less than 30 years old, in good physical condition, with pretty smiles, and a cheery attitude.

When interviewed, Kenneth Quinn, a partner and head of aviation practice at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Pillsbury Winthrop, explained, “Most governments have enacted laws and other protective measures against gender and age discrimination, as well as fitness discrimination, but Asian countries have less precise formulas in their labor laws that permit airlines to impose age and appearance limitations upon flight crews.”

In addition, Quinn clarifies; governmental bodies in Asia are generally less involved in regulatory lapses in this area.

“They try to leave it to the airlines and unions and work forces to deal with any problems,” he says. “Certainly weight and appearance limitations tend to be not strictly enforced.”

“Laws covering employment and particularly discrimination tend to be less rigid in Asia,” agrees Tom Ballantyne, aviation expert and chief correspondent for Hong Kong-based “Orient Aviation” magazine.

Supposedly, it’s a lot more acceptable to push youth and beauty in Asia, but I’m confused. Doesn’t that already happen? Everywhere?

There’ve been protesters and backlash about sex appeal and the blatant use of feminine curves in marketing since it began in the late 1800s, so what’s the big deal all of a sudden? From skinny models being thrown off the runways to the recent promotion of “full figured” mannequins, people have been fussing about the use of feminine sexuality for ages, but that’s not stopping it.

US budget airline, Southwest, has been doing this since the 1970’s with their “Remember what it was like before Southwest Airlines” ad campaign, in which they used scantly clad flight attendants speaking softly and sexily about the things their airline had to offer. Everything from the actress’ pouty lips to the camera angle helped further drive home the idea that the flight attendants are sexy and they’ll offer high quality service while you’re high in the sky.

To top that, Nok Air isn’t the only one doing this; they’re just the only one blasting it from the loudspeakers with a sexy calendar (that I know of, that is). Singapore Airlines has been doing it since 1972, just like Southwest.

Besides, there’s still no solid evidence that these “sex sells” ad campaigns actually sell anything other than a brand.

“I’ve never seen any evidence that directly links the beauty of flight attendants to the bottom line,” says Ballantyne. “Certainly it is true that many airlines in Asia-Pacific, especially low-cost operators, base part of their brand image on young, attractive flight attendants. How that translates to additional passenger numbers I’m not sure.”

I think it’s much about nothing. Nok Air is still only given three of five total stars in Skytrax’ “leading global Benchmark of airline standards.”

Duh. Online reviews are everything.

Image Credit: Gang Liu / Shutterstock

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