Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Come fly with me

Update : 12 Apr 2016, 05:30 PM
OK, I don’t know if I am going to draw flak for this one but, before someone lets out a stream of invective against me, let me tell you, this airline in Vietnam is reportedly owned by a female entrepreneur who is supposed to be on her way to becoming a billionaire. Must say, cash floods in when clothes fly out. The news is certainly sensational: VietJet Air CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao’s idea of dressing stewardesses in provocative clothes is paying off, read a recent news which went viral. Don’t blame me, go and talk to Ms Thao -- by the way, she is said to have remarked that, as long as clients are happy, the image of a “bikini airline” is something which won’t bother her. Are the clients happy? Well, is the chief Rabbi a Jew? We are informed that the airline has already grabbed 30% of the market after coming up with this blood-boiling change. That’s what I call marketing strategy straight from the garden of paradise! Must say, after looking at the photos of the stewardesses who seem to be more luscious than Playboy models, I am tempted to actually try out this airline. Is there anyone out there who has flown in it? Well, I mean, if I understand our double standards, then it’s possible that the many businessmen who travel frequently in the East Asia route will keep their mouths shut even if they have, because perhaps their wives won’t prefer visualising their husbands taking a cold drink from a hot girl wearing a garter belt. I am also certain that the common excuse “oh darling, you know the reason why I love going to Vietnam and take VietJet is because, during our student days of rebellious ideals, we lionised the glorious opposition of the people of Vietnam against the imperialist US forces,” will now be met with suspicion. I mean, you can certainly say: These ladies represent the new strategic infusion of an open market with communism. Strategic indeed! In the end, whether we admit it openly or not, using young, attractive women in skimpy clothes to promote something never fails. And look who is behind it: Another woman! She certainly has the acumen to understand and utilise what the ancient philosopher Chanakya termed as the most powerful force in the world -- the physical beauty of a woman. What do women using the airline as passengers think? Well, from the few photos I saw of the interior, didn’t see many (not a single one) women. Bet there will be a lot of outrage against this, calling this stunt as a demeaning act which promotes blatant voyeurism. Hey, let’s be honest: Bikinis are not needed, but how many would want to fly in an airline where the stewardess is covered head to toe in a loose dress? No offence, but being served by someone whose physical attributes are above average is at the core of the airline trade. I think a few months ago, Air India grounded flight attendants because they were not slim. The underlying message here was clear: If you want to fly, then become prim and proper. The reason why most men want to see eye-catching women as their cabin crew is because, over the years, a variety of salacious tales have been in circulation surrounding stewardesses, creating a heady myth. These tales, mostly apocryphal, whet our appetites and trigger deviant fantasies. Reality is certainly very different! What one gets in the actual world, if one is infinitely lucky, are a few smiles, maybe some flirtatious looks (you have to be Shakib Al Hasan or Mashrafe for this) and, possibly, one drink more than the other guy. In the current market, with the aviation industry floundering and airline companies having to face intense competition to make ends meet, chances are high that the crew may not be in the mood for any frivolities at all. Maybe flying business class will offer some frisson. Mr Bond, is there anything else you want? Or, as fantasy-fueled tales go around a certain defunct airline, in which, stewardesses were supposed to have said: “Tea, coffee, or me?” Whether we find the move by the Vietnamese airline to be belittling or not, the bottom line is: The company is getting passengers and the owner is happy. In a world where moral boundaries are constantly realigned to fit the evolving (read: Aggressive) consumer culture, it seems that the market belongs to those who break new grounds. Shocking at first, stupendous in the end. By the way, I wonder what the bikini-clad attendants wear when they come out of customs after a flight. Let me take a guess: Maybe the privilege is only kept for those who take that airplane and are inside the aircraft. Come on, if they walk out like that through customs … One thing is for certain, there is an upside to this attire: You have no contraband to hide and no place to conceal weapons. I mean, no weapons to be used for terrorism purposes!
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