Tel Aviv – Na’amat, a women’s group, issued a sharp critique of El Al Sunday night for a policy requiring its female flight attendents to wear high heels until all the customers have boarded the plane.
“I am not convinced that high heels are an absolute condition for women’s presentability, and certainly not for a female flight attendant who is required as part of her job to be on her feet for extended periods,” Na’amat CEO Galia Wallach wrote in a sharply worded letter to El Al CEO David Maimon.
The requirement, she said, could constiute gender discrimination, and the organization would consider legal action if the policy was not rescinded.
“I welcome Mr. Maimon to try walking in high heels for just one hour before requiring [flight attendants] to damage their health for no apparent reason,” she added. Before the new rule was installed, flight attendants could change into comfortable shoes when she boarded the plane.
Avi Avigdor, a foot expert and owner of an orthopedic shoe chain, said that most high heels do, indeed, offer less support, put pressure on the ankle, squeeze toes together and can lead to foot, knee and back pain.
“I agree that flight attendants should look presentable and respectable, but not at any price,” he said.
Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich tweeted jeers at the company for its policy. “I suggest that all the men in El Al’s management wear high heels at work. Let’s see them,” she wrote.
In response to the outctry, El Al noted that flight attendants were free to change into more comfortable shoes for the duration of the flight, and were required to wear heels only until customers were seated.
“It should be noted that this practice is accepted in the airline industry worldwide,” a spokeswoman said.