It is something that taken for granted in many countries, and hardly comes across as something worth fighting for. But, air stewardesses working for two major Hong Kong-based airlines have won the right to wear pants to work.
The management of Hong-Kong-based regional airline Cathay Dragon has been in negotiations with the Flight Attendants Association (FAA) for weeks now over the 'skirts-only' rule. Both bodies announced on Thursday that they had reached an agreement, and that female flight attendants would now be given the choice of whether to wear skirts or pants, Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post reported.
The agreed change in uniform policy is now going to have a wider impact than previously expected. It will apply not just to flight attendants, but also to ground staff. What makes it even wider in scope is that the same changes will also be extended to the staff of Cathay Dragon's parent airline, Cathay Pacific.
The stewardesses had been asking to wear pants for a simple reason - they feel unbearably cold in the winters when they have to wear skirts. Their reasoning was as humanly simple as can be - they feel warmer by wearing more layers if they were allowed to wear pants.
The victory for the women has also come as a sideshow victory for the men who work with them. Uniform regulations for male flight attendants allowed them to wear only half-sleeve shirts, and did not allow them to put on jackets, even in the cold weather.
"We are pleased that we have reached an understanding on matters raised… There is no progress without change. Now is the time to make this happen by working together to review the uniforms that accurately reflect the values we represent," said a spokesperson for Cathay Dragon.
The airline representative also said it was "imperative" that staff at both airlines not only feel pride in wearing the uniform but also "feel comfortable and empowered to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities".