Airline Demands Female Employees Ask For Permission Before Getting Married Or Becoming Pregnant

by Veronica Santos

In an open letter written by flight attendant unions to the U.S. Travel Association is an attempt to point out the undeniable wrongdoing within the policies of the Persian Gulf Airlines that include, Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways. Some of these practices go so far as demanding that women ask permission before they decide to marry or become pregnant.

As if that isn’t enough, the other issue the unions have voiced is the discriminatory employment denial of anyone in the LGBT community with Persian Gulf Airlines. Unfortunately, this heated letter was brushed off by CEO Roger Dow who said: “If the Big Three airlines and their unions are ever able to present compelling arguments for breaking the agreements with those priorities in mind, we’re all ears.” 

However, there are also issues of competition embedded here.  The “open skies” agreement were what brought in healthy competition through its international agreements by lowering airfares and adding more flights to various destinations. But currently, Middle East carriers have large sums of money given to them in the form of government subsidies. This is causing them to grow faster as a business and as a threat to other competitors. 

Bigger does not always mean better. In fact, according to a piece by Carrie A. Trey on her experience as an Emirates flight attendant, the job is very stressful with little to no time to rest whilst pulling in long, sometimes 24 hour shifts. Trey said, “I remember a flight from SFO to Dubai that was diverted to Kuwait, where we sat on the ground for four hours; by the time we landed in Dubai, we had been on duty for over 24 hours, with only a three-hour break.” Customer service complaints can mean an attendant’s paycheck is on the chopping block and a sure fire why to get negative letters of recommendation in the future.

Time off is rare even in cases of family tragedies and there is a report-and-rise system in place where if an employee reports another’s mistakes, no matter how small, they are praised for it.  In regards to pregnancy and marriage, Trey also mentions the 3 major Middle Eastern Airlines (which she refers to as the ME3) and said, “Pregnancy is also a terminable offense amongst the ME3, and if you happen to be both pregnant and unmarried, you could be deported from the U.A.E or Qatar.”

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