Former Emirates Flight Attendant Subjected to Weight Checks, She Said

  • A woman who says she was an Emirates flight attendant told The Mirror she was subjected to weight checks. 
  • Duygu Karaman, a size 8 (UK size 12), said she was reported by a colleague for being “too heavy.” 
  • She said the ordeal destroyed her confidence and that she left the airline after 10 years. 

A woman who says she is a former Emirates flight attendant told The Mirror the airline subjected her to random weight checks that destroyed her self-esteem. 

Speaking to The Mirror’s Milo Boyd, Duygu Karaman said she was a senior cabin crew member of the United Arab Emirates-founded airline, and that she underwent three years of weight checks after a colleague reported her for being “too heavy.”

Karaman said she spent 10 years working for the airline, but ended up resigning in June 2019 after she said “no more” to the constant concern about her weight. Insider has not been able to independently verify Karaman’s employment, and but a LinkedIn account that appears to belong to Karaman says she worked there from M to

“I was really upset for so long and then I lost my self-confidence,” the 37-year-old told The Mirror. “My two or three kilo extra weight didn’t prevent me doing my job.”

An Emirates airline Boeing 777 at Sydney's International Airport on May 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.

An Emirates Boeing 777 at Sydney International Airport in May.

James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Karaman, who said she was a size 8 (UK size 12) at the time, told the publication that the airline did not tell her which of her colleagues reported her but that they said she was two kilos too heavy and would need to be put onto a weight-management program.

“They track everything according to BMI,” she told The Mirror. “They give you an A4 piece of paper which just said ‘don’t eat rice, don’t eat bread.’ Stuff like that. They call it a nutritional department, but they didn’t give me much advice.”

In the interview, she went on to describe being subjected to unannounced weight checks before flights. Karaman said when she complied with what Emirates required, she’d have to keep off the weight for a year before being taken off the program.

Karaman, who told the publication she is now retraining as a dietitian at the University of Reading, said that she knew of colleagues who were docked pay and suspended from flying for their own issues regarding the weight requirements. 

While an Emirates spokesperson told Insider it’s not the airline’s policy to comment on specific cases, they said: “As a global airline, we treat the wellbeing of our employees with the highest priority, and we believe being fit and healthy, both physically and mentally, is an important aspect in them carrying out their duties safely and effectively.”

“We’re proud of our colleagues who form Emirates’ cabin crew and are working in safety critical roles to maintain the quality of operations and service Emirates is known for,” they added.

The Mirror’s story about Karaman comes after reports about Emirates’ secret “Appearance Management Programme” surfaced in 2018.

At the time, a woman claiming to be a cabin-crew member told aviation news outlet AeroTime that flight attendants — particularly those who were Black — were subjected to “appearance requirements” regarding their makeup, clothing, and body shape. If criteria for these requirements weren’t met, the unnamed Emirates staffer said, flight attendants were “threatened with dismissals or suspensions” which led some to consider “drastic diets,” the outlet reported. 

Emirates did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the claims outlined in the AeroTime report. 

On its website, Emirates lists basic requirements for its cabin crew, including fluency in English, a high-school education, “arm reach of 212 cm while standing on tiptoes,” no visible tattoos, and being “physically fit” along “with a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI).”

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