That’s the Spirit


What is up with all the sexist airlines?
While Southwest Airlines prefer to harass its customers, Spirit Air opts to feature sexist ads and debase their flight attendants. The image provided is one of their many heinous marketing ads they’ve been criticized for in the past – M.I.L.F. conveniently means “Many Islands Low Fares,” as well as an ad that says, “We’re proud of our DDs” (which stands for “deep discounts”). Their latest plan? To force their flight attendants to wear aprons with alcohol promotions on them.
Luckily, the Flight Attendants-CWA union is taking some action on both offenses. President Pat Friend, has been sending letters to CEO Ben Baldanza:

I feel as though I have entered a time warp and am reliving the battles for respect and justice for women that we fought 40 years ago. Several promotional fare ads…are demeaning not to just the hardworking flight attendants at Spirit Airlines but to all of America’s professional flight attendants.

Flight attendants have a statutory obligation to enforce Federal Aviation Administration regulations regarding intoxicated passengers. In-flight aprons that prominently display a logo from an alcoholic beverage company sends the wrong signal to passengers and diminishes the ability of Spirit flight attendants to enforce vital safety and security regulations and procedures onboard.

Even AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker is calling on folks to call Spirit out on this bullshit, “With the recent focus on the heroic actions of the US Air pilot and crew whose experience and expertise saved the lives of the passengers, I think it is most appropriate that we speak out on this. Airline safety should certainly sell over sexual innuendos.”
Indeed. Email their CEO and let them know what you think.
h/t to Tula!

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20 Comments

  1. Aconite
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Do the people who give the thumbs-up to these commercials even know what flight attendants do?
    Flight attendants are there to save passengers’ lives in emergencies. As one exasperated flight attendant put it, “We’re there to save people’s *sses–not to kiss them.”

  2. norbizness
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m more worried about the mandatory “pilots and co-pilots shroom it up before take-off” policy.

  3. Brad
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Yuck. That’s one of the things I dislike the most about this-day-and-age, the fact that every single surface needs to have an ad on it. I can’t stand it.

  4. woolf's orland
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Anyone else notice that the woman in the corner of that ad looks like Jennifer Coolidge, who played “Stifler’s Mom” in American Pie — a role which popularized the term “MILF”? Interesting…

  5. kt
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I emailed Spirit ages ago that their promotions were ridiculous, and I got one of those “sorry you feel that way, but we’re keeping them” emails back. Ugh.

  6. ShelbyWoo
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I noticed it and it certainly doesn’t add up with their “we didn’t mean it that way” defense.

  7. RedPersephone
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Yep, that’s what I noticed first, too. Ridiculous.

  8. jboonstra
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    and don’t forget ryanair’s sexist calendar, of course

  9. woolf's orland
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    EXACTLY.

  10. Tiffany
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    The good news is that I can’t see that this type of advertising is going to work for them. I wouldn’t fly on them, and if I were part of a couple I wouldn’t book a flight for the two of us on this airline either. Are they looking for the single, heterosexual male demographic? Because of the single, hetero males I know, few of them book their own flights and the ones that do don’t go to “the islands” alone. Women, even those non-feminist not-uptight types that patriarchal apologists point to, will reject this crap en masse.

  11. woolf's orland
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Permalink
  12. Suzy
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    i agree that their advertisements are bad, but what’s wrong with the aprons? They get revenue off of the ads so they can keep their company afloat and keep the flight attendants’ jobs.

  13. Posted January 31, 2009 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Want to see what sexist garbage UK airlines are spewing out? Have a look at this ad for Virgin Atlantic which is currently all over British television:
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oL1uud6Fy6M
    I thought we had got past the stereotype of cabin crew being mindless eye candy playing harem to a powerful male pilot, but obviously not. The only comfort I can take from it is the irony in using Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax (a song about gay male sex) to soundtrack an ad so obviously designed to appeal to straight men. I doubt the makers are culturally aware enough to reliase that though. *Sigh*.

  14. Chas
    Posted January 31, 2009 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Want to see what sexist garbage UK airlines are spewing out? Have a look at this ad for Virgin Atlantic which is currently all over British television:
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oL1uud6Fy6M
    I thought we had got past the stereotype of cabin crew being mindless eye candy playing harem to a powerful male pilot, but obviously not. The only comfort I can take from it is the irony in using Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax (a song about gay male sex) to soundtrack an ad so obviously designed to appeal to straight men. I doubt the makers are culturally aware enough to reliase that though. *Sigh*.

  15. Aconite
    Posted January 31, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Suzy, among the problems with forcing flight attendants to wear aprons advertising alcohol are:
    1. It reinforces the stereotype of flight attendants as waitresses/waiters, instead of crew members trained to deal with emergencies. (The pilots will certainly not be expected to wear aprons or ads, right?)
    2. It plays into the idea of flight attendants as domestic servants/little wifeys (yes, even the men) who are there for the gratification of male passengers.
    3. As things stand, the aprons will be advertising alcohol. Flight attendants are the ones responsible for dealing with drunk passengers. Imagine firefighters being forced to wear aprons advertising cigarettes while being responsible for putting out fires started by smoking in bed.
    4. As things stand, revenue derived from assaulting the dignity of flight attendants will almost certainly not go towards keeping jobs, but will go to CEO bonuses while flight attendants are laid off and those who remain are forced to take on even more tasks.
    I’m sure that only scratches the surface. If I didn’t have small hungry creatures yowling in my ears, I might be able to expand on this idea further.

  16. Aconite
    Posted January 31, 2009 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Chas, it’s actually likely that the makers of the ad are aware of the cultural reference. It’s not uncommon for admakers to deliberately place subtext that comments on the overt message into ads they hate doing but aren’t able to refuse working on. They know the adbuyers won’t get the message and a segment of the target audience will.

  17. Suzy
    Posted January 31, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    ok so i think #4 is a wee bit cynical. Not every CEO of a company is so money hungry that they will kill their company. Flight attendants as you pointed out are needed and I’m sure the companies want them to keep their jobs just as much as they do.
    And its been a while since I’ve taken a flight. Do flight attendants wear aprons now?

  18. Chas
    Posted January 31, 2009 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Well, I’d like to think so, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach. In fact it’s more depressing if the ad makers know that what they’re pumping out is sexist crap, but aren’t brave enough to simply refuse to be involved, and instead have to settle for making subtle hints about their disdain for the subject matter.
    Still, we can’t expect everyone to sacrifice their job in order to be activists…I could kick up a stink at my job about how the company I work for sells some of our products to defence companies, but in the current economic climate I don’t fancy biting the hand that feeds me.
    Back to the point though – I just frigging HATE the Virgin Atlantic ad!

  19. Aconite
    Posted January 31, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Suzy, it’s possible that I am being cynical with #4, but based on how many CEOs and other execs are taking home record-breaking bonuses this year while their companies are laying off workers and cutting salaries for the ones who still have jobs, I doubt it.
    Remember that in the current business world, many executives don’t have emotional ties to the companies they run. They’re brought in from outside to run the business; they didn’t build it from the ground up. They have no emotional stake in its success or failure. Increasingly, they’ve had no financial stake in its failure, either, since their salaries and bonuses have been guaranteed regardless of performance.
    Airlines have also shown a disregard for safety and well-being of passengers and crew, such as when they routinely fire senior, experienced pilots for the purpose of replacing them with less experienced (and therefore less expensive) pilots. Expecting executives to make decisions about crew welfare from the goodness of their hearts is more charitable than I can find it in myself to be.
    As for whether or not flight attendants routinely wear aprons: not that I’ve noticed. I’m not always the most observant person, but I’m pretty sure the sight of a male flight attendant in an apron would have penetrated my mental fog even if for some reason the sight of a female attendant didn’t.

  20. Stephen A
    Posted February 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    This is awful and it’s only justified if they fly to MILF Island

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