Female flight attendants on this airline need a doctor's note to not wear heels

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Anna Brech
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A flight attendant wearing heels

Politicians have accused a budget airline of 1950s-style sexism, after it emerged that its female cabin crew must wear two-centimetre shoes

Female flight attendants working for budget airline Norwegian Air must carry a doctor’s note at all times in order to justify not wearing heels, it has emerged. 

Details of the shocking policy appeared in a 22-page dress code document shared by various media outlets this week. 

The airline rules state that heels must be at least two centimetres high, and female cabin crew need a medical letter – updated every six months – to be allowed to wear flats.

Norwegian Air defended its protocol, saying it was part of an effort to make their flying crew look “smart and consistent”.

“The guidelines were drafted with input from our pilot and cabin crew colleagues and have been well received,” a spokesman told the Independent.

He added that much of the airline’s dress policy applied to men and women equally.

Virgin Atlantic flight attendants
Last month, Virgin Atlantic announced its female crew were no longer required to wear make-up

This response was not enough to placate female politicians in Norway, a country that is widely considered to lead the way on gender equality issues. 

Ingrid Hodnebo, of Norway’s Socialist Left Party, accused the airline of being stuck in a “Mad Men universe”. Anette Trettebergstuen, who represents women in the country’s Labour Party, said: “The year 1950 rang and it wants its rulebook back.”

The truth is, Norwegian Air is far from alone in conjuring up sexist policies for its female cabin crew. 

Up until last month, Virgin Atlantic required its female attendants to wear make-up; and getting rid of that protocol was considered a newsworthy move

On British Airways, female crew must wear a minimum of lipstick and blusher, while Emirates female attendants adhere to a strict code  that includes a particular shade of red lipstick, and nail varnish approved by the airline’s grooming department.

Quite why looking “professional” or “smart” has anything to do with heels or lipstick is anyone’s guess. But unless the same rigorous demands are placed on male stewards, it’s entirely sexist - and has no place in this day and age.

Images: Getty


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.