Most people receive some form of training when starting a job, whether it be shadowing or completing an online course.
But air stewardesses at Singapore Airlines undergo a somewhat unconventional induction programme – which includes warning them not to gain weight and telling them to cut their hair.
The company recruits 1,000 air stewards every year who have to undergo 14-weeks of rigorous training to ensure they walk, talk and look right for the job.
Singapore Airlines cabin crew have been warned they must not gain weight, file photo
The company is featuring in a Channel 4 documentary on Monday about The World’s Most Luxurious Airline and will show the demanding requirements placed on cabin crew
During this period female stewards are given ‘grooming lessons’ in which they are taught how to put on make-up and which hairstyles they are allowed to have.
They are also given their uniform of a blue kebaya – a traditional dress worn in southeast Asian countries.
But in a Channel 4 documentary, The World’s Most Luxurious Airline, which airs on Monday at 9pm, it is revealed that if the female employees gain weight and can no longer fit in the uniform – they will be sacked from their role.
The company’s air stewardesses have been known as ‘Singapore girls’ since British-born advertising boss Ian Batey came up with a campaign to market ‘naturally attractive Asians’ to Western customers in the 1970s.
On the airlines’ website, the ‘Singapore girl’ is described as having ‘unfading beauty ’and ‘elegance’.
So to make sure new recruits are up to standard, they are taught how to present themselves. They are then marked on everything from eyeshadow blending to how thick their hair is.
Cabin crew at Singapore are restricted on the types of hairstyle the can have
There are a select few hairstyles permitted by the airline for female stewards, which include a bun which must measure between 6.5 and 7cm.
However, if this ‘up-do’ makes the stewardesses look like ‘a young mother in law’, grooming teacher Amy Ling will tell them they must cut it into a bob hairstyle to look more youthful.
Breaking the news to the stewardesses that they must cut their hair, she said: ‘I have standby tissue paper, you can cry buckets of tears but you know what you need to do, right?’
She also advised girls on general appearances, telling one employee to get some sleep because of her ‘eye circles.’
‘I wouldn’t say I’m strict but I would say I’m working towards what’s best for the company’s image’, she said.
And even if a woman fills all the airline’s requirements, if she leaves to have children she cannot expect a job unless she loses the extra weight.
Juat Fang Foo, cabin crew training manager for Singapore Airlines, said not many women make it to the ‘top ranks’ of stewarding because of this.
‘We do have a returning mothers scheme, but of course when they come back they must be able to fit into the uniform because I think that would be the expectation of the customer’, she said.
‘If they don’t they would have to lose the weight.
‘The men will be able to stay on, they don’t have to worry about putting on weight after childbirth.’
Customers pay up to £10,000 for a first class cabin on Singapore Airlines, which boast rotating leather armchairs, a double bed and 23-inch touch-screen televisions.
According to programme manager Alex Cameron, to build one suite cost the airline the same as a three bedroom home. When it launched its new first class last year, the company had built 100 suites.
The table alone, Cameron said, cost the same as a Ford Mondeo – which is priced at around £20,000.
This is because it undergoes a ‘very expensive’ anodisation process to make the product less reactive.
The new first class suites took the airline four years to develop.