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Regulations to curb online sales of airline uniforms

Nov 07,2017
Recent sales of flight attendant uniforms on online thrift stores and shopping sites are becoming a concern for airlines.

One flight attendant jacket was recently on sale online for 220,000 won ($197.16), its skirt for 150,000 won and scarf for 50,000 won. At another online site, Junggo, a stewardess uniform similar to that of Korean Air’s was found on sale for 350,000 won.

“A flight attendant uniform is the face of the airline, so we are now trying to address the problem more aggressively,” said an employee from one airline. “If we don’t stop this, we are worried an outsider might pretend to be an official flight attendant and enter restricted areas of the airport, creating security problems.”

Airlines use a points system, providing flight attendants a certain number of points to replace damaged parts of their uniforms, including pantyhose, luggage and scarves. For example, one airline provides 700 to 800 points a year, and flight attendants can get a new jacket for 117 points, a skirt for 65 points and a summer blouse for 50 points.

“There are rarely any flight attendants who sell their uniforms online,” said one flight attendant, “but I’m worried that the few who do might tarnish the reputation of flight attendants as a whole.”

“It’s so hard to find this airline’s uniform. I need it for a filming, so please contact me,” wrote one uniform seeker on an online site. Another wrote, “I’m looking for a flight attendant’s uniform or a KTX attendant’s uniform.”

There are also stores that specialize in creating and selling replicas of flight attendant uniforms. One store advertised, “It is almost an exact replica of a flight attendant’s uniform. Men say it’s their No. 1 preferred uniform, so it’s good for those looking for a party or to change their business vibe,” suggesting that these uniforms are in demand at some hostess bars.

Airlines made an official announcement to flight attendants on Tuesday, saying old uniforms will now be recalled after a new one is sent using the points system. They informed flight attendants that those who do not follow the new regulation will not receive special flight ticket offers after retirement.

Not all flight attendants, however, are welcoming the new regulation.

“Under the guidelines for uniform recall, we have to give back all the items we received over the past two years,” explained one flight attendant, “but it’s going to be hard to find flight attendants who haven’t thrown out old, battered uniforms.”

Some took to Blind, a smartphone app that allows users to post comments about their companies in anonymity, to write their complaints.

“They [airlines] should be working on finding the people selling the uniforms. What is this?” wrote one user. “Are they treating all 6,000 flight attendants as criminals?” questioned another.

“We adopted the new regulations to prevent sales of uniforms online,” explained an employee from one airline, “but it seems like there was a misunderstanding when we informed flight attendants. We are working on modifying the regulations to avert any inconvenience to flight attendants.”

BY SONG WOO-YEONG [song.hankyul@joongang.co.kr]