Flight attendants on national carrier EL AL Israel Airlines were left hopping mad on Sunday after receiving new instructions that they must wear high heel shoes until all passengers have boarded each flight.
Some 200 air hostesses signed a petition against the decision, which was made late last week and sent out to air crew in a weekly email.
“It is unbelievable how much an employer can be disconnected from his workers,” the Hebrew-language Ynet news site quoted one anonymous flight attendant as saying.
The new regulations stated that flight attendants must continue to wear their high-heeled shoes until all passengers have boarded and are seated in their seats.
Until the recent change, cabin staff were required to wear high heels as part of their uniforms when they arrived at airports and when tottering past passengers who are waiting to board planes. However, once on board, the flight attendants could switch to more comfortable working shoes before travelers were allowed on the plane.
The decision to change the regulations was reportedly made after EL AL officials took notes from other airlines where flight attendants stay in heels until just before the plane takes off.
“The company updates its service procedures and within that framework it was decided that the stewardesses teams wear presentable shoes also when welcoming customers to flights,” explained Yehudit Grisaro, vice president of customer service at El Al.
“Immediately after the seating, and during the entire flight, activities are in work shoes. We stress that this practice is accepted in the world air industry.”
But EL Al cabin staff complained that wearing heels as passengers are boarding an aircraft is a health and safety hazard. Not only are the shoes uncomfortable and unhealthy; in the event of an emergency, flight attendants in heels would have a tough time helping passengers to safely disembark.
MK Shelly Yachimovich [Zionist Union] stomped on the new directives in a statement posted to her Twitter account.
“Boo to El Al for requiring flight attendants to wear heels until the last of the passengers has sat down,” she wrote. “My suggestion: All the men in the El Al management should wear heels to work. Let’s see them.”
The infuriated female flight attendants said they planned to send the protest letter to the company’s directors and that they are ready to continue campaigning until management walks back the new orders.