The Philippine airline whose flight attendants danced a safety demonstration to Lady Gaga said yesterday they were "surprised" after a video of the routine became an online sensation, while the country's flight attendant association labelled the dance "demeaning".
Cebu Pacific Airlines, a budget airline long known for entertaining passengers with amusements such as mid-air trivia games, said they had wanted to make the safety demonstrations "fun and exciting" to get passengers to pay attention.
Instead of the usual bored flight attendants robotically buckling seatbelts, passengers on a recent domestic flight watched as women wearing bright orange shirts and stylish pants ran down the aisles of the plane, smiling broadly.
Dancing to a mash-up of Lady Gaga's Just Dance and Katy Perry's California Girls, they strutted flirtatiously as they showed off lifejackets and bounced up and down, arms moving in rhythm, to indicate the emergency exits.
As they bopped, a sober voice-over told passengers what to do in case of an emergency landing. Passengers applauded at the end.
Posted on the internet, the video racked up more than 6 million hits in five days.
"This actually surprised us," a company spokesman said. "It's overwhelming -- we've seen a lot of positive response."
But not everyone is smiling.
The Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines said that requiring flight attendants to dance in front of passengers was "demeaning and undignified...(they) are not entertainers."
Women's rights group Gabriela said in a statement that "portraying women in a sexy manner to make business brisk is not only a cheap promotional gimmick but also makes corporations such as Cebu Pacific a purveyor of sexism and machismo that reverses the hard-won recognition that Filipino women have achieved."
The company spokesman declined to comment on the criticism.
"I think the reason why this is a success is that the crew enjoys doing it," he said, noting that a conventional safety demonstration is also given before the plane leaves the ground.
In line with its original plans, the airline will offer the service on select flights this month and next. The spokesman could not say whether it will be expanded.
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