While pressure on airlines to be less sexist means that we don’t see ads like this anymore, Stephen W. alerted us to the ongoing sexism in “general aviation,” that is private planes and jets owned by individuals and companies.
Airports have FBOs (or “fixed based operators”) which are, essentially, glorified gas stations for planes. A private pilot can choose which airport and thus FBO, or which FBO at which airport, to patronize. So FBOs will compete for customers. Stephen pointed to one strategy: plying pilots, assumed to be men, with sex.
This website allows pilots to see what “FBO Girls” all over the country, the women working behind the counters at FBOs, look like. Another website, FBO Hotties, allows pilots to submit their favorite girls.
Flower Aviation promises that you will be guided into your parking spot by “girls in short ‘skorts’ and tank tops.”
Here are some of the images from the website, notice that when you spend money on fuel, they reward you with red meat (and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies):
So, there you have it. Private aviation, still very much a man’s world.
Other than the objectification, I think an interesting sociological question might be: Why have the airlines dropped overt sexist advertising, while general aviation has not? One possibility is that general aviation is, literally, less public and, thus, less vulnerable to public censor. Another may be that pilots are still overwhelmingly men, unlike the customers served by airlines, and so there may still be profit in sexism for general aviation, but not in commercial aviation. I’d welcome your thoughts as well.