Flight attendants on Indonesian airline Garuda will no longer wear face masks after passengers complained they could not tell if they were smiling or pouting while providing service.
The surprising admission, from the Garuda Indonesia boss, prompted many to suggest it was sexist men making the complaints.
The chief of Indonesia’s flagship airline, Irfan Setiaputra, made the comments during a webinar about the so-called “new normal” of transport in the era of coronavirus.
“There are many adult passengers of Garuda have started to complain to me, ‘Why are the flight attendants’ faces covered by masks. I can’t see if they are smiling or pouting’,” he said.
In a bid to ease customer concerns at not seeing the facial expressions, Irfan said that, instead, flight attendants would wear plastic face shields – meaning their smiles or pouts would be visible.
“We are trying to find a way to make people not only feel safe but also comfortable.
“Flying on a plane is in the happiness business.
“So once you are on the flight you should not be unhappy, feel distressed.”
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Irfan said people should not get on a plane and be wondering if they are in an aircraft or the ICU due to all the protective gear.
But his comments did not pass without criticism from some quarters on social media.
“Passengers would worry about not receiving a smile … they’re willing to put other people’s lives at risk for a smile … no words,” one person commented on social media.