Spring Airlines' Flight Attendants Wear Sexy Maid Uniforms. Just Because.

Maid costumes are the new in-flight look. Photo: Facebook/Spring AirlinesFlying these days is a total drag. But there’s at least one airline out there trying to turn that notion on its head: Shanghai-based Spring Airlines, known for its budget rates, is aiming to make flying fun again with a dash of old-school, in-flight sexism, as it’s unveiled plans to dress its female flight attendants up like maids, and their male counterparts as butlers. So far, reviews have been mixed.

“The airline should respect their crew members because flight attendants are still quite different from maids and butlers,” one blogger wrote, according to Shanghai Daily. Other critics, said the article, said that Spring should instead focus on making sure flights were on time, offering cheaper tickets and improving services, rather than relying on this “excessive way” of gaining public attention. Some even worried that the costumes, with their high heels and short skirts, could pose a safety risk.

Supporters thought a flight with themed costumes could be fun, and that it was reminiscent of the many “cosplay”—costume-play—eateries that are big in Japan, many of which are known as “maid cafes,” featuring pretty, maid-outfitted women staffing coffee shops, bars and even hair salons. And, according to Spring Airlines’ Facebook page, the new costumes, may just be the first in an upcoming series of themed flights.

“We're mixing up our flights with some fun onboard themes—like these maid and butler costumes,” reads the page’s most recent post, from Tuesday. “What’s your favorite theme that you’d like to see onboard a Spring Airlines flight? Let us know below and we’ll try our best to make your dream come true.” As of Wednesday afternoon, the post had just 13 likes and no comments.

There was a time, of course—before security risks and budget cuts became the main focuses of air travel—when airlines placed great emphasis on sassy, stylish flight attendant uniforms. Sexiness was also a big factor back in travel’s “golden age,” though most U.S. and European airlines grounded that idea long ago to reflect shifting social and legal standards.

Southwest Airlines flight attendants wore hot pants in 1972. Photo: Getty Images

“It’s one thing to be able to help people out of an emergency exit door, it’s another to say they must weigh less than 130 pounds, as Pan Am and others might have done in times gone by,” Kenneth Quinn, partner and head of aviation practice at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Pillsbury Winthrop, told CNN for its recent look at whether sexy fight attendants are really good for business.

Short skirts were de rigueur in 1971. Photo: Getty Images.

“Most governments have enacted laws and other protective measures against gender and age discrimination, as well as fitness discrimination,” Quinn said. “But Asian countries have less precise formulas in their labor laws that permit airlines to impose age and appearance limitations upon flight crews.” Many, therefore, openly cling to glamor in its ads and on flights, including Singapore Airlines, as well as Thailand’s Nok Air, which withstood controversy over its sexed-up calendar campaign in early 2013.

A page from Nok Air's calendar project with Maxim. Photo: Facebook/Nok Air/Maxim.

“Maybe Asian airlines emphasize looks just a bit more when compared to European or Middle Eastern airlines,” Ji Yang Xiong, director of China's Foreign Airlines Service Corporation, told CNN for its story. “European airlines don’t have any requirement on looks. They mostly focus on personality and having the right attitude for the job and a service-oriented mindset.”

Whether the Spring Airlines flight attendants have the mindset to match the at-your-service cosplay—and whether passengers are ready to play along—will soon be revealed.