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Paper Monitor

10:20 UK time, Thursday, 17 December 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's the revenge of the "trolley dollies". If you think being a British Airways cabin crew means being whisked around the globe, staying in five-star hotels in fabulous and exotic destinations - and only requiring the three words "chicken or beef?" - then think again. Members of staff have been speaking to broadsheet journalists about how hard their job is.

One unnamed with 13 years of experience tells the Guardian that he or she has lost pride in the job because cuts to crew have left them with so much to do on a flight. Meals are taking longer to serve, passengers are becoming more abusive and the in-flight entertainment system keeps breaking, the crew member tells the paper.

Times journalist Imogen Edwards-Jones spent a year interviewing cabin crew for her book Air Babylon. She says her research unearthed some bizarre aspects to the job.

The "touch the toes" test, for instance, which enables the cabin services director to check there are no visible panty lines. "VPL is the enemy of the well turned-out air hostess, so some of them simply ditch their underwear."

Only certain brands of make-up are allowed and forearms have to be "hairless, bleached or waxed at all times". Put on weight and you're told to lose a few pounds.

Is that really true?

A (rather hairy-forearmed) senior BA crew member this morning told Paper Monitor that he recognised none of these as current job requirements, although there are rules about lipstick colours, while tattooed forearms must be covered up.

And any waistline restrictions?

"Hardly. Some staff can barely make it up the aisles," he joked.

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