Thursday, April 12, 2012


Ron Akana is 83, and still going strong as a flight attendant with United Airlines.
(Photo: New York Times)

At an age when he should be enjoying his retirement, Ron Akana, 83, still derives joy from his work as flight attendant with United Airlines. He is silver-haired, wears bifocals and has been with the airline since 1949.

This hasn't always been the case. Back in the 1960s, air stewardesses had to retire when they reached the age of 32 or when they married or became pregnant. They were discriminated against not only for their age but also their gender. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 changed all that.

Today, more than 40% of the roughly 110,000 flight attendants in the United States are 50 or older. Less than 18 percent are 34 or younger. (The New York Times 17 March)

In Asia, most major airlines have done away with the upper age limit requirement. However, there are still a couple that continue to impose age restrictions on hiring flight attendants. The following information is taken from AirAsia website for flight attendant applications (highlight added). Note the emphasis on youthful good looks.

Absolute Essentials

Male/Female (Malaysian)
Age: between 20 and 35 years old

Gentlemen- Office wear, be smart and stylish
Ladies - Office wear, strictly skirt knee length only full make-up, look stunning

Malaysia Airlines:


• Malaysian citizen aged between 18 to 30 years as of interview date.

Straits Times Feb 25

Whether we like it or not, and regardless of mandatory rules, ultimately, the hiring company has the perogative to reject older job applicants. Older adults are still at the mercy of employers when it comes to re-employment.

The exceptions are those who have skills, knowledge or experience that are highly sought after. Take Hassan Marican, 60, for example. He was featured in the previous blog post. He has been getting offers from blue chip Singapore companies. And there is Bobby Ng, 64, watch specialist who was offered a two-year re-employment contract by The Hour Glass when he turned 62 two years ago. He has worked on the creations of over 50 luxury brands of watches during his 15 years with the company.

From Straits Times April 10; Newsletter Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM)

Point to be taken: Develop a passion for what you do that can be translated into valuable skills and expertise that companies are willing to pay top dollar for. They won't care if you are 70 or 80. Just make sure you are still fit and in good health. When you have reached that level, you can practically name your price.


Pak Idrus said...

Lu mau kerja lagi ke?

Anonymous said...

En. Idrus, kalau tiada wang, misti terpaksa kerja la!
Tidak lian cara!