A veteran flight attendant claims she quit her job after three years of being asked to check her weight because she was considered “too heavy”.
Duygu Karaman was subject to the confidence crushing weight checks after a colleague secretly reported her, she alleges, and claims she was even put on a weight management programme.
The 37-year-old says she would be randomly pulled aside before flights and put on the scales to see if she’d shed enough pounds, and claims colleagues would have their pay cut if weight issues persisted.
Others working for the Middle Eastern airline were also subject to the demeaning practice, Duygu claims, including one of her colleagues who she says ended up having a tummy-tuck against doctor’s advice.
The flight attendant, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, eventually left the job after she claims she had three years of weight checks.
“It’s definitely not okay,” Duygu, who weighed at most 10st7lb, told The Mirror. “I was really upset for so long and then I lost my self-confidence.
“They should definitely drop this. My two or three kilo extra weight didn’t prevent me doing my job.
“I was a senior cabin crew, I knew what I was doing. I was really good at customer service, I was really good at my job.
“Emirates is really strict with their grooming policy. You never see an old cabin crew. They want pretty looking people.
“They don’t like people that speak up so they always want to get rid of the senior people.”
Duygu’s run-in with Emirates came seven years into her 10-year career at the United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier.
A member of staff complained she was “too heavy”, despite being a size 12, she says.
Duygu said: “They didn’t tell me who reported me but they weighed me and said they track everything according to BMI.
“Because I was 2kg over I was put in a weight management programme.
“They give you an A4 piece of paper which just said ‘don’t eat rice, don’t eat bread’. Stuff like that.
“They call it a nutritional department, but they didn’t give me much advice.
“It was stuff everybody knows like sleep regularly, which I can’t do because of the job.”
At first the flight attendant lost the required weight but, because she’d been noticed, she was required to keep it off for a year, she claimed.
“I’d get my weight checked unannounced before flights,” she continued.
“I had to go into the weight room and be checked. I tried to keep it at that weight, but sometimes I would gain one or two kilos.
“I was so upset. When they caught me on the weight checks I had to go back to zero months, and you have to remain clear for a year to be let go.”
Duygu said that she was not told she’d need to remain below a certain weight when she was hired, merely that she had to maintain good health and physical appearance.
She claimed that some of her colleagues were grounded on reduced salary because of weight issues, while one flight attendant resorted to surgery to get her weight down.
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“I left in June 2019,” Duygu continued. “I got called into the office to get my weight checked but I said ‘no more’ and I resigned.
“I am a bit happier, but I think I stayed too long in that job. I was having adaptation problems living on the ground.
“Now I am studying to be a dietician at the University of Reading.”
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Emirates is the biggest airline in the Middle East and the fourth largest in the world.
It was set up in 1985 with the backing of the Dubai royal family.
An Emirates spokesperson said: “As a global airline, we treat the wellbeing of our employees with the highest priority, and we believe being fit and healthy, both physically and mentally, is an important aspect in them carrying out their duties safely and effectively.
“We’re proud of our colleagues who form Emirates’ cabin crew and are working in safety critical roles to maintain the quality of operations and service Emirates is known for.
“We do not comment on specific, confidential cases of existing or past employees.”