Global Travel Media » Blog Archive » Airlines rise to bait over Qatar chief’s cruel jest

Home » Headline News » Currently Reading:

Airlines rise to bait over Qatar chief’s cruel jest

July 24, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

They may have been delivered in an offhand, jocular manner at the end of a speech, but recent “sexist and ageist” comments by Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker struck a nerve and US airlines are furious.

Al Baker quipped at a Dublin event that the average age of his cabin crews is 26 and that flying with US airlines means being “served by grandmothers”. See: Qatar chief says ‘crap’ US airlines hire grannies as crew

The wisest idea for big American carriers would have been simply to leave the remarks alone, treat them as a poor joke and not dignify them with a response. But political correctness being what it is, America’s airlines immediately rose to the bait.

The remarks were “incredibly offensive,” Jill Surdek, vice president of flight service for American Airlines said in a message to employees. “It was both sexist and ageist at the same time.”

Al Baker’s words, spoken to great audience mirth, were: “You know you will always be served by grandmothers on American airlines.” Whether he meant American airlines generally or American Airlines specifically is open to question, but the dart hit home. Surdek’s reaction was carried in the Dallas Morning News – Dallas-Fort Worth being the headquarters of American Airlines.

Qatar and other carriers from the Gulf region are locked in a simmering dispute with the “big three” US airlines (Delta, United and American) over allegations that the Middle Eastern airlines are state subsidised. It’s a charge the Gulf airlines strongly deny.

In June, Qatar expressed interest in buying about 10% of American Airlines, an intention America’s chief executive Doug Parker found “puzzling at best and concerning at worst”.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, a coalition of the three big US airlines, has called Al Baker’s latest remarks “misogynistic and demeaning”. The Air Line Pilots Association said Al Baker had “sunk to a new low”.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants at American weighed in as well. A few words go a long way.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    Everyone knows there’s some truth in Al Bakers remarks. Its just not PC to say so. One of the constant reasons given by passengers who book another carrier over a US carrier is the poor service given on board. People avoid booking the US carriers for quite specific reasons. They openly say the service on the Asian and Middle eastern carriers is better. It seems saying exactly why its better is what has the PC Police up in arms.

Comment on this Article:

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Platinium Partnership


Elite Partnership Sponsors


Premier Partnership Sponsors


Official Media Event Partner


Global Travel media endorses the following travel publication