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American Airlines flight attendants demand investigation into 'sexist' musical skit

Key Points
  • The video shows women dressed as flight attendants singing "Big Spender" from the musical "Sweet Charity" to a man depicting a high-paying customer.
  • American Airlines said it was not a corporate event and it had no say in the content.
  • The flight attendants' union said it is demanding an investigation into the video.
An American Airlines flight attendant serves drinks to passengers after departing Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Robert Alexander | Archive Photos | Getty Images

The union that represents American Airlines has demanded an investigation into a skit that surfaced over the weekend depicting cabin crew singing "Big Spender" to a man portraying a high-paying customer.

The video of the skit, which was performed on a small stage that featured American Airlines' name and logo on a screen, was posted to Twitter by Jamie Larounis, who writes the Forward Cabin travel blog.

Larounis, who has since removed the video, tweeted that the "the people in the skit were on the payroll of AA" and that they have a group called Salute, which performs at shows.

In the video, four women presented as flight attendants sing the song from "Sweet Charity," a musical about a dance-hall hostess, to a seated man, changing some words to include "Executive Platinum," the top frequent flyer status for American's frequent flyers.

American Airlines said the skit was performed at a "customer-organized" concert in a private residence. The airline said it did not control the content or preview the agenda.

"What was portrayed in the skit was not sanctioned by the airline and is not representative of the 27,000 professional flight attendants who take great care of millions of customers each year," American said in a statement to its employees. "We spoke to the customer who posted the original video and shared our concerns that the actions depicted in the skit he witnessed are demeaning to our professional flight attendants and crew members throughout the industry. We are thankful that he listened to our concerns and that he agreed to remove the video."

The event was for a group of friends who frequently fly American Airlines and aimed to raise money through a silent auction for the Airpower Foundation, an organization that supports members of the military, said Larounis, who attended the event.

American's flight attendants' union said they want to be included in an independent investigation about the incident.

"This cannot be happening in today's environment. We will not tolerate our profession being objectified in a sexist manner, " Lori Bassani, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants said in a statement. "We want the facts about the company's involvement and we want answers."

Flight attendants have for decades fought against sexism and sexual harassment they have experienced on the job. A survey last year by the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents about 50,000 flight attendants at United, Hawaiian, Alaska and Spirit airlines, among others, found that 68 percent of flight attendants have been sexually harassed at some point in their careers.