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Air India mandates pre-flight inspection of cabin staff grooming and weight, which irritates aviation bodies

Air India has decided to inspect cabin crew members' grooming and assess their body mass index (BMI) at airports

Air India mandates pre-flight inspection of cabin staff grooming and weight, which irritates aviation bodies
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Air India has decided to examine cabin staff members' grooming and body mass index (BMI) just before they board their planes, as per an official rule. The airline's two unions, the Air India Employees' Union (AIEU) and the All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA), submitted a letter to Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Vikram Dev Dutt on January 24 rejecting the decision, claiming it is dehumanising and in breach of DGCA standards.

"BMI is a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in metres. A high BMI can indicate high body fatness," stated the website of US' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The order dated January 20, 2022, has come days before Air India's hand over to the Tata group, which acquired the carrier in a competitive bidding process last year.

The instruction noted that cabin crew who are well dressed and groomed in accordance with uniform standards and regulations give a positive and professional image of the airline. "It is therefore emphasized that, all cabin crew adhere to uniform regulations communicated by the circular dated November 18, 2019," the order noted.

The instruction was delivered to all cabin crew members by Vasudha Chandana, Executive Director – In-flight Services, Air India, on January 20. "Grooming associates have been assigned the task of recording observations on the BMI management/grooming/uniform turnout of cabin crew when they report for a flight or standby duty at CCMCO (Cabin Crew Movement Control Office)," she noted.

She added that these observations must be collated and delivered to her office. She stated that each cabin crew member will be inspected or evaluated once every three months. The flight's cabin supervisor, on the other hand, will be responsible for ensuring that her or his staff is well-dressed and follows all uniform standards, she says.

She emphasised that all cabin supervisors must lead by example and ensure cabin crew compliance at all times. She stated that any non-compliance by a crew member must be documented in the cabin supervisor's report. According to the DGCA's standards, BMI checks can only be performed by medical practitioners, according to the aforementioned two unions in a letter to the CMD.

Non-medical grooming associates doing BMI checks at airports, according to the unions, breaches not just DGCA guidelines but also federal law, "settled service conditions and court orders."

"We must stipulate that we are not objecting to BMI checks, which crew have undergone for more than 15 years now, however, the same must be conducted by medical doctors, in the privacy of the Air India clinic, as has been the case until now," the unions noted. This process of weighing scale checks at airports "dehumanizes and denigrates" Air India's cabin crew, apart from violating working conditions, they stated.

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