July 10, 2013
“High stress in high heels: Asiana Air flight crew praised for timely response”
Commenting on the heroism of the flight attendants on board the Asiana Airlines jetliner that crash-landed in San Francisco last Saturday, Bill Briggs of NBC News wrote: “They punctured an emergency chute that inflated inside the damaged plane and trapped people beneath. They doused fires while guiding—and sometime carrying—passengers through smoke to exits and away from the wreckage. . . . That the South Korean crew coolly carried out those valiant tasks while wearing pencil skirts, high-heeled pumps, buttoned blazers and scarves equally impressed high-ranking members of two U.S. flight crew unions.” Two flight attendants were thrown from the plane onto the runway and survived with injuries. The heroic actions of the jetliner’s flight attendants not only spotlighted their complete devotion to the safety and care of their passengers and their ability to skillfully apply their training to actual emergencies but also can serve to remind us of the strength of character displayed by flight attendants over the history of flight. In an article for the Women’s History Network Blog, titled “Up in the Air—Women as Flight Attendants Seeking Equality,” Joycelynne A. Scutt writes: “Since its inception, air travel has been a site for women’s activism.” In spite of different cultural values, especially in regard to appropriate dress and service, such activism is not confined to the United States. Just a few months ago, a ruling from Asiana Airlines was issued that would allow their female flight attendants, for the first time, the choice of wearing pants instead of the pencil skirts that have long been the practice.