By Cailey Rizzo
September 16, 2019

Air India is putting its cabin crew on a low-fat diet.

In a memo to staff on Sunday, the airline announced that “an initiative has been taken by the Director (operations) to revise the in-flight food menu for the crew members,” according to The Times of India.

The “special low-fat diet meal” was devised to “provide light and healthy meal with a home (Indian) touch.” Sample meals include a mushroom egg white omelet, vegetarian oats and besan chilla (a sort of savory pancake). All dishes are “low on cholesterol and fat” an Air India spokesperson told the newspaper.

While encouraging healthy eating may not seem particularly newsworthy, the airline has a long history of cabin crew weight concern — which may call into question the intentions behind this new measure.

In 2015, the airline made international headlines when it permanently grounded 130 of its cabin crew for being overweight (most of those grounded and put on a diet and exercise plan were women). According to The Independent, the maximum weight allowed for a woman of 5’3” was 140 pounds. At the time, the airline defended the action, calling it a safety concern. (The U.S. lifted its weight requirement rules for flight attendants in 1994 due to a lawsuit.)

Air India’s concerns over cabin crew bodies date back at least to the 1980s when the airline circulated height and weight charts to employees. In the early 2000s, the airline said it would not consider flight attendant candidates who had “acne or bad teeth.”

In 2015, the airline made morning yoga a requirement for all training pilots and cabin crew, “as we believe that yoga brings in a sense of discipline as well as help cope better with the stress of the job,” an Air India official said.

The airline’s new menu comes a few days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched “Fit India,” an initiative meant to encourage more exercise in the country.

Advertisement