When I was a kid, on a flight from New York to Orlando (or possibly the way back), I received a plastic wings pin from the Delta flight attendant. In my mind, for a brief time, I was an honorary Delta pilot. It was a pretty great feeling at the time, and it never for a second occurred to me that, as a girl, I couldn’t be a pilot. Decades later, I still remember that pin and that awesome feeling. Unfortunately, some TUI UK passengers aren’t feeling nearly as satisfied by the way the “future captain” and “future cabin crew” stickers are being distributed to the children passengers on recent flights. Apparently, at least in some cases, the stickers that said “future captain” were being given out to boys, while the girls received the “future cabin crew” stickers.
According to Metro, Dame Gillian Morgan told them she noticed the “deeply sexist” practice when she was going through passport control for a TUI flight from Bristol to Paphos, Cyprus. She saw the flight attendants handing out the stickers on board and later noticed that all of the boys had captain stickers while the girls had cabin crew stickers. As she pointed out to the news outlet, “We desperately need more women to do science, maths and engineering but little things like this take us backwards by providing restricting roles.”
Whether it was intentional or not, that these gender neutral stickers were seemingly distributed with gender in mind implies that the captain position is for boys and the cabin crew position is for girls. Understandably, the internet is having none of this…
So @tuiuk have had numerous complaints over several months about sexist distribution to kids of their ‘Future Captain’ and ‘Future Cabin Crew’ stickers. All either ignored or fobbed off. Are they aware they committed a criminal act of direct discrimination under EA2010?— Cat Burton 🧜🏻♀️ she/her (@CatBurton_UK) August 26, 2018
How nice, children given stickers saying 'future pilot' – but only if they were boys. Girls got 'future cabin crew' stickers instead. Ugh! #everydaysexism https://t.co/dxesRFb4Oo— Athene Donald (@AtheneDonald) August 22, 2018
Epic fail by TUI. Girls can fly planes too…..https://t.co/H0t4wOmvCi— Sarah Ockwell-Smith (@TheBabyExpert) August 23, 2018
Of course, there are two sides to every story, and there have been some passengers who’ve witnessed different behavior with the sticker distribution…
We went on holiday this year with tui and my son was given the choice which sticker he would like. As were all the children on our flight.— Libby Haughton (@Libby_Haughton) August 22, 2018
I flew @TUIUK back from Ibiza last night and can absolutely confirm a male worker was handing out these “sexist” stickers with zero gender bias. Plenty of girls were “future captains”. Another cooked-up nontroversy hits Twitter 😫 https://t.co/y9BpHe7zeD— Martin Daubney (@MartinDaubney) August 23, 2018
Based on what Tui told Sky News, this was all a big mix-up. According to their statement,” “We think it has just been a simple mix-up since our future pilot and cabin crew stickers are designed for use for any child regardless of gender.”
So this situation may be overblown, at least a little bit, especially if the practice isn’t an official policy on behalf of the airline. Maybe some flight attendants are showing a bias, while others are being more open-minded about who gets what sticker. At the very least, the whole ordeal is a reminder that seemingly harmless things like stickers can send a message to children, however subtle it may be.
In other news: Read about the flight that had to turn back partway across the ocean because someone broke a toilet.