Travel operator Tui has apologised to parents for what it called a “mix-up” over its stickers being handed out to children on flights, after parents complained they were being distributed in a “sexist” manner.
Customers claim girls were being given badges saying “Future cabin crew”, while those given to boys said “Future captain”.
The stickers are part of the airline’s activity packs which get handed out to children on board and use brand’s blue and red colour scheme, which have been designed for use “for any child, regardless of gender,” the airline said.
But some passengers claim that staff have been showing a gender bias when handing out the stickers.
Dame Gillian Morgan, who flew with TUI from Paphos, Cyprus, to Bristol last week, told Metro: “All the little boys had been given stickers that said Future Pilot.” By contrast she says the girls had been handed “Future Cabin Crew” stickers.
Dame Gillian had been flying with her great-niece and great-nephew, and said the behaviour was “deeply sexist”. “I just think it’s a shame. TUI were trying, I think, to do the right thing but fundamentally missed the point,” she said.
Other parents have raised the issue with the airline over the past few months. One mother, named Linzi Will_i_ams on Twitter, wrote in July that while she welcomed the stickers and activity sheet it was “not so lovely” that the distribution was gendered. “All the boys were given ‘future pilot’ stickers and the girls ‘future cabin crew’?! Sexist much?”
One parent said his children had had the same experience. “All they needed was to ask the children what sticker they wanted,” he said.
But other parents have defended the airline, saying they did not have the same experience and saw staff either asking children which stickers they would like.
Father Tommy Phillips wrote on Twitter that he had just been away with TUI and his son was able to choose which sticker he had, and opted for the cabin crew sticker.
While mother Libby Haughton said on Twitter: “We went on holiday this year with TUI and my son was given the choice which sticker he would like. As were al the children on our flight.”
Responding to the complaints, a TUI spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to hear a small number of customers have been upset by this. We think it has just been a simple mix-up since our future pilot and cabin crew stickers are designed for use for any child regardless of gender.
“The stickers are part of our activity packs which are intended to be used by crew to interact, engage with and create special moments for our customers on their holiday,” they said, adding that customer feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive” this summer.