An internal memo issued by PIA in which it directed cabin crew to dress in formal clothes over “proper undergarments” when not on planes has struck a nerve online with angry netizens who are pointing out that the airline has its priorities all messed up and needs to focus on improving its services instead. Among those who voiced their concerns over the development were filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, RJ Anoushey Ashraf and actor Adnan Siddiqui.
On Friday, the Ms Marvel director shared a screenshot from The Express Tribune’s article on the memo and wrote, “Our national airline has one million problems and let me say the way its women dress doesn’t even make that list — this is what happens when misogynist men get promoted.” She referred to a line that claimed the GM of flight services, Aamir Bashir, had observed the cabin crew’s attire and continued, “We can share this list with Aamir Bashir if he has trouble coming up with his own.”
“When you have planes that barely function and corruption so deep that all the passengers safety is the last thing on your mind but you have the audacity to worry about the ‘image’ of the airline because of the way women choose to dress off-duty,” wrote Ashraf under a news post on the story.
Prodding them to get over women and their choices, she pointed out that uniforms and hygiene being included in the rules may be fair, but hyper-fixating on women’s clothing isn’t. “Get your mind out of the gutter and use it for something that can actually help make the airline better.”
Echoing her words was Siddiqui, who asked the airline to get its priorities straight. “Instead of moral policing the cabin crew, the PIA should rather invest its energy in improving the infrastructure, safety and service standards.”
PIA issued an internal circular to cabin crew titled “Cabin Crew Dress Code for Surface Travel, Hotel Stay and Visit to Offices” on Monday, a copy of which is available with Images. It raised a concern that a few members from the crew “tend to dress casually while travelling intercity” which “leaves a poor impression”. To avoid soiling the image of the individual and the organisation, Bashir, who signed the note at the end, directed the crew to be “properly dressed in plain clothes which are formal and are worn over proper undergarments”.
“The clothing worn by males and females should be in accordance with our cultural and national morals,” the letter specified. There will be checks by TCPs, SPs, LCCs and Grooming Officers — all of whom were CC-ed — who are to monitor the crew “at all times and report any deviation”.
“PIA crew is the representation of the airline itself,” a PIA spokesperson told Images. “There is a proper guideline for the crew to present itself in proper and culturally sensitive attire, specially in public places, during their international and domestic travel. The circular is in continuation of that guideline and is for both male and female members of the crew,” they said.