From the elegant glamour of Virgin Atlantic's flight crew advertising to the wet t-shirt Girls of Ryanair calendar, there's no question that airlines positively discriminate in favour of the best-looking cabin crew.
But American Airlines has landed itself in trouble after running an internal competition for flight attendants to enter themselves in a company beauty contest (though American Airlines protests that it was a flight-attendant created site to profile how to wear new items of uniform correctly).
The 'Face of your base' competition was designed to find the best looking staff for a company photo shoot, with the design of a 'hot or not' style website where members of staff to vote on each other's appeal.
Union officials said the competition undermines the real work of a flight attendant -- ensuring safety in the air. American Airlines asserts that this was a typical union negotiating tactic.
"This campaign just transported us back 50 years to the days of girdles, weight-checks and single, female-only stewardesses having to quit when they were married, pregnant or reached the ripe old age of 30," Association of Professional Flight Attendants' Laura Glading said.
Online commenters who said they were "AA staff" defended the contest, saying "The face of the base contest is not about beauty ... it's about representing the new uniform and wearing it appropriately."
It seems that the union's outrage is not necessarily shared by airline staff generally -- there's a Facebook page called "Ridiculously Good Looking Flight Attendants" where flight crew post pictures of themselves on the plane, and at home wearing considerably fewer clothes.