What would you do if you received video of one of your employees sexily pulling off and then sniffing her dirty clothing as she removes it and blowing a kiss at the camera? Especially if the clothes she was stripping out of were her work uniform?
That was the question facing a British Airways manager, who suspended a flight attendant after video of her peeling off her tights and sniffing them, and also sniffing two pairs of black shoes began making the rounds. "These I've been wearing all day with no knickers, just for you," she says, before sniffing the tights. She begins unbuttoning her shirt, blows a kiss to the camera, and says "See you soon!" as the video ends.
A British Airways spokesperson confirmed to the Mirror that it had indeed suspended a flight attendant for making the video, in which her face and voice are disguised but her name badge is briefly visible. "We hold our colleagues to very high standards and expect them to behave responsibly. When this doesn't happen we will always take the appropriate action," the spokesperson said.
An unnamed British Airways source described the decision to the Mirror this way: "It was doing the rounds and they hit the roof."
$103 for dirty clothes.
Why would a flight attendant make a video like this one? Apparently a lot of them do. The reason is simple economics--the videos are a sales tool for the flight attendants' used tights and other garments which they sell over eBay to fetishists. Although there is no evidence that this particular flight attendant sold her garments, there's apparently a healthy market for these items. A pair of tights can go for £10, with garments worn on long-haul flights fetching the highest prices, reportedly up to £80, or about $103.
As for the flight attendants, some of them are unapologetic. "A lot of us simply can't live on the wages we're paid," one told the Mirror. Indeed, British Airways flight attendant pay reportedly starts at just under $17,000 per year for new hires, and the average for all flight attendants is around $20,000 per year. That's after a raise the airline grudgingly gave them last fall, following several weeks of strikes. And London is one of the most expensive cities on the planet.
If the flight attendant had made the video for a fetishist boyfriend, or even if she was selling non-work-related garments to fetishists, you might argue that what she does in her off hours is her own business. But the whole point of these sales, and presumably the sexy video, is to show that these are genuine British Airways flight attendant garments worn on duty. Cabin crew apparently take pictures of their stockinged legs and feet aboard a plane to prove their authenticity.
While British Airways is well within its rights to discipline flight attendants who sell sweaty pieces of their uniform to those who crave these items, the airline also should consider paying these employees something closer to a living wage. It probably won't stop those who enjoy the thrill or want the extra cash from selling their used apparel to the highest bidder. But at least they won't be forced to do it just to make ends meet.