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Al-Baker Offers a Non-Apology for His “Grandmothers” Comment

Remember the comments Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker made about how flying on U.S. carriers equals being served by “grandmothers”? Well this morning Al-Baker’s PR people sent around…I’m not sure how to classify it except for a non-apology. It’s more of a “sorry you were offended” than an actual show of remorse for what he said:

“I should like to apologise unreservedly to those offended by my recent remarks which compared Qatar Airways cabin crew with cabin crew on US carriers. The remarks were made informally at a private gala dinner, following comments about the Qatar Airways cabin service, and were in no way intended to cause offence. This is a time of strong rivalry between our airline and the US carriers, and we are of course immensely proud of our own cabin crew. However, cabin crew are the public face of all airlines, and I greatly respect their hard work and professionalism. They play a huge role in the safety and comfort of passengers, irrespective of their age or gender or familial status. I have worked for many years in the industry, and I have a high regard for the value that I see long-serving staff members bringing through their experience and dedication.”

Qatar Airways CEO Al-Baker Flight Attendant Grandmothers

Qatar Airways CEO Al-Baker

At the end of the day, the guy doesn’t need to apologize. Apologies are meaningless unless they’re backed up by a change in attitude/policy. Placating people with words is pointless unless it’s backed up by action. As the statement demonstrates, he doesn’t feel bad about insulting and objectifying flight attendants. He’s just sorry people were “offended” by something he didn’t mean to say in public.

The way I see it, “causing offense” isn’t an offense itself. Having discriminatory hiring practices is. More meaningful than an apology would be to take a less stringent approach to managing the Qatar Airways flight crew.  But that won’t happen. Will I still fly Qatar Airways? Yes, just like I’ll continue living in this country regardless of who’s President.

Anyway, I want to know what you all think of Al-Baker’s apology. Do you think it’s warranted? Do you agree with Al-Baker’s original statement?

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Ariana Arghandewal

6 Comments

  1. It may not be heartfelt. But I do think it’s an apology. It takes a lot for this man — with a history of saying blatantly false things and never looking back — to apologize. So he clearly realizes he stepped in it big time, and perhaps won’t say such things again regardless of what’s “in his heart” as it were.

    “I greatly respect their hard work and professionalism. They play a huge role in the safety and comfort of passengers, irrespective of their age or gender or familial status. I have worked for many years in the industry, and I have a high regard for the value that I see long-serving staff members bringing through their experience and dedication.”

    Granted it’s not a huge gesture along the lines of “we’re going to offer free business class roundtrips to all US airline flight attendants over age 26” or some such. But did he say he’s sorry? I think he did.

    • You’re right – he did apologize (or at least the PR person who wrote that statement did). Do I think he means it and is going to reconsider his ageist stance? No.

  2. I agree with Gary Leff. He certainly is not apologizing for the policy and has no intention of changing it. But he did acknowledge that his remark was crude and offensive to some, and I think he really is sorry he made that comment.

    I think almost all guys have made comments about women that they would have to apologize for if they were made public.

  3. Have you ever gotten laid ariana? Your going to be the next 40yr old virgin ….

    • Hey Joe, thanks for leaving another enlightened comment on this topic. You were smart to use a different name. Not so smart? Your IP address is the same. Which you’re also sharing with your employer, an obscure travel OTA that keeps linking back to me. I’m glad to provide an outlet for your non-existent social life. Must be hard when people pay zero attention to you in real life.

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