Vietnam’s “Bikini Airline” low cost carrier VietJet, whose CEO is a woman, came out with their 2018 bikini calendar last month.
Sometimes their stunts are controversial. They send bikini-clad flight attendants onto some inaugural flights. That’s not welcome in all mostly-Muslim countries, and has been controversial even in Vietnam where the airline was once find 20 million Dong over unapproved inflight entertainment (that was only worth about $959 at the time).
2018 VietJet Calendar
However they’ve apparently gone too far in sending scantily clad women on a charter flight back from China carrying Vietnam’s under-23 men’s football team that was returning after a 2-1 loss to Uzbekistan on Saturday.
Social media in the communist nation erupted over the photos, including one of an awkward-looking young man being embraced by a model in a low-cut silver belly top and red underpants.
Others showed the sequin- and feather-adorned pin-ups posing on the private flight that VietJet chartered for the team after the tournament.
This turned out to be hugely controversial in social media and VietJet is apologizing calling it an “improvised move” and “not a well-thought out marketing strategy.” They even say that staff have been disciplined.
It’s fair to find their marketing stunts crass. I don’t think that they drive the airline’s success either, goodness knows “Hooters Air” didn’t work out in the U.S. But I’m not sure why outrage makes sense in this case and not in others — that it’s inappropriate for women to be on display on a professional sports charter but it’s fine on an inaugural flight?
The primary reason I’m loathe to judge the practice is that the airline’s CEO makes the case that in conservative, repressed Vietnamese society this is a feminist act. Maybe not on a flight full of male professional athletes perhaps.
What in a U.S. context might be viewed as exploitive of women could simultaneously be striking out against what society says is permitted for women in Vietnam. The answer to that question is likely above my pay grade.
(HT: One Mile at a Time)