It hasn’t been a good week for Tui’s PR team. Earlier this week, the company fell foul of advertising chiefs, resulting in its commercial for a ‘perfect summer holiday’ being banned from TV screens. Then a Gloucestershire Radio boss reported that they were left stranded by the airline at St. John’s International Airport in Canada following an alleged ‘pushing’ incident, with the family being branded as ‘disruptive’ and several members being barred from joining the flight. The family said they knew nothing of the allegations – and it’s not a smart way to treat a media boss, who complained publicly of a lack of care and published footage of what they said was subsequent ‘gloating’ behaviour from a Tui steward.
Now, in the latest row Tui have been branded ‘sexist’ in their marketing to children. Cabin crew were observed selecting different stickers for different genders in their children’s holiday packs – with boys being given stickers saying ‘Future Captain’ while girls received ‘Future Cabin Crew’.
Dame Gillian Morgan, 65, noticed the stickers following her flight to Bristol from Paphos, Cyprus, where she observed stewardesses handing out the stickers to children on board the plane – and her frustrated response received coverage from several national newspapers.
In an interview with Metro, Dame Gillian said it was “deeply sexist” and was “absolutely sure” it was deliberate for airline staff to hand stickers by gender.
Dame Gillian said:
“The stickers were gender neutral but it’s the way that they were handed out that makes it complicated,” she told the Metro.
“I was with my great-niece and my great-nephew and of the two of them, she’s going to be the pilot, he’s going to be the cabin crew!”
“There must have been a way of doing it with a bit more thought. I was quite upset by it really.”
The point has not been lost on other passengers, either, who have voiced their disapproval on Twitter over the Summer. Back in May, djdump@St_Pirran told the airline “@TUIUK your cabin crew today chose “future tui cabin crew” stickers for the girls and “future pilot” for the boys, no female pilots then? ”
The airline was quick to defend the stickers as ‘gender neutral’ and “part of our activity packs which are intended to be used by crew to interact, engage with and create special moments for our customers on their holiday.”
Of course, this hastily issued response would be easier to swallow if the airline’s employment reflected gender diversity – in an irony not lost on reporters, as of April 2017, 5% of TUI’s 870 pilots were female and 21% of its 2,500 cabin crew were men. One only hopes that by the time the children involved reach maturity, the airline industry makes some progress – as of now, the stickers reflect a disappointingly accurate portrait of gender diversity (or lack thereof) at one of the UK’s largest holiday companies.