To honor and appreciate women this International Women’s Day, Air India’s putting ‘em all to work. The airline will operate 20 all-women crewed flights—domestically and internationally—to celebrate International Women’s Day, but this trek’s particularly memorable for it’s length. Additionally, the 9,000-mile flight from New Delhi to San Francisco, which touched down earlier today, is the longest entirely female-operated flight ever.
But it’s not only the flight crew that consists of women. Everyone from the staff overseeing the boarding to the four ladies in the control tower are women. Quite the celebration—though one could argue making women work and men not is the opposite of a feminine celebration.
“This year for the first time, on the world’s longest non-stop flight, entire flight operations from
cockpit crew to cabin crew, check-in staff, doctor, customer care staff, ATC (air traffic control)
and the entire ground-handling…were handled by women,” Air India said in a statement, and Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani added, that the flight would be a symbol of “women empowerment.”
Not only is the flight symbolic for women, but it also continues an over 30-year-old Air India
tradition when the airline was the first carrier to operate an all-women flight back in 1985.
Though this celebration marks an important milestone for women in aviation, the fact that it
makes headlines suggests improvements need to be made. According to FAA data, for
example, only 6.61 percent of commercial pilots are women, a percentage so small that there are more female woodworkers, sawyers, and even lumberjacks (or lumberjills?) than there are female pilots.
Just think to the last time you heard a female voice over the intercom that wasn’t telling you how to put on your seatbelt but rather giving you the cruising altitude? Odds are high that it’s never happened. Even though today’s all-women flight is only an annual event with Air India, it’s still a progressive step forward for women in aviation.
Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.