A woman who worked as cabin crew for Emirates for a decade has said she was frequently weighed, and put on a weight management programme by the airline identified after being identified as “too heavy” at 10 stone.
Duygu Karaman told the press that she quit her job with the airline in 2019 after the “strict” and “upsetting” weight monitoring by the airline.
After a member of staff complained that she was “too heavy”, Karaman claims that she was asked to lose weight, and then monitored for a year to check that she had kept the weight off.
“They didn’t tell me who reported me but they weighed me and said they track everything according to BMI,” she says.
“Because I was 2kg over I was put in a weight management programme.”
Karaman says that she would be pulled aside for random weigh-ins before flights.
“I had to go into the weight room and be checked. I tried to keep it at that weight, but sometimes I would gain 1 or 2 kg.
“I was so upset. When they caught me on the weight checks I had to go back to zero months, and you have to remain clear for a year to be let go.”
Aviation blogs such as Aerotime have been tipped off by anonymous staffers in the past about a secret “Appearance Management Programme” at Emirates.
However, there is no public-facing information on or evidence of such a policy.
The Emirates website does state in its hiring guidelines that cabin crew should be “physically fit for this demanding role with a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI)”, as well as women having to wear heels and “a full face of make-up”.
“It’s definitely not okay,” says Karaman of the fixation on her weight. “I was really upset for so long and then I lost my self-confidence.”
She claims that other colleagues were subjected to the practice, with one eventually resorting to a surgical tummy tuck against doctors’ advice.
They should definitely drop this,” says Karaman of the airline’s weight policy. “My two or three kilo extra weight didn’t prevent me from doing my job.
“I was a senior cabin crew, I knew what I was doing. I was really good at customer service, I was really good at my job.”
An Emirates spokesperson said: “As a global airline, we treat the wellbeing of our employees with the highest priority, and we believe being fit and healthy, both physically and mentally, is an important aspect in them carrying out their duties safely and effectively.
“We’re proud of our colleagues who form Emirates’ cabin crew and are working in safety critical roles to maintain the quality of operations and service Emirates is known for.
“We do not comment on specific, confidential cases of existing or past employees.”