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Coffee, Tea, or Misogyny?

credit: Allan FergusonSeems the misogynistic mind-set that caricatures "stewardesses" as offering "coffee, tea or me" on jumbo jets isn’t a sorry relic from the past. Not at Spirit Airlines, anyway.

A set of ads by Spirit insults and demeans customers, employees and future customers, says Flight Attendants-CWA union President Pat Friend, who calls the marketing campaign "regressive, distasteful and debasing."

One ad features a large-busted blond woman with M.I.L.F. in huge letters above her and the Spirit version—Many Islands Low Fares—in much smaller type below. Right.

Other Spirit ads assert: "We’re proud of our DDs." That’s "deep discounts." Of course. In a recent letter to Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza, Friend writes:

I feel as though I have entered a time warp and am reliving the battles for respect and justice for women that we fought 40 years ago. Several promotional fare ads…are demeaning not to just the hardworking flight attendants at Spirit Airlines but to all of America’s professional flight attendants.

And demeaning to all thinking humans, a point Friend also makes. (Send Baldanza an e-mail of outrage here:

The junior high mentality that created this campaign fermented in the brain of—or at least was approved by—Spirit Marketing VP Barry Biffle. ‘Nuf said there.

Meanwhile, the mad men at Spirit are hatching yet another retrograde plan. They want flight attendants to wear in-flight aprons promoting booze—a plan Friend says must be stopped now.

Flight attendants have a statutory obligation to enforce Federal Aviation Administration regulations regarding intoxicated passengers. In-flight aprons that prominently display a logo from an alcoholic beverage company sends the wrong signal to passengers and diminishes the ability of Spirit flight attendants to enforce vital safety and security regulations and procedures onboard.

Friend calls on Baldanza to

immediately pull these campaigns and instruct your marketing department to develop a professional, respectful program of advertising. I am confident I will be joined in this request by many other interested parties.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker also is encouraging people to speak out about Spirit’s actions.

With the recent focus on the heroic actions of the US Air pilot and crew whose experience and expertise saved the lives of the passengers, I think it is most appropriate that we speak out on this. Airline safety should certainly sell over sexual innuendos.

So, even as the nation witnessed the professionalism and heroism of flight attendants and all the other union members who did their jobs so well on the US Airways crash (eloquently described by emptywheel here), itty-bitty brained bubbas want to get women back into eensy-teensy-widdy-biddy bikinis.

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