Thai flight attendants object to soap opera

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BANGKOK, Thailand -- A popular new Thai soap opera about love and infidelity in the high skies has angered Thai Airways flight attendants who demanded Monday that the show be canceled for casting their profession in an unrealistic and immoral light.

"The Air Hostess War," which broadcast its first three episodes last week, has captivated viewers with a story line about a dashing, married pilot having an affair with one of his tall, slim flight attendants. Love triangles lead to fighting in the aisles and steamy sex scenes at stopover cities.
The Thai Airways International union issued a letter urging the Culture Ministry to order the show to be pulled from the air.

"This soap opera is insulting and damaging to the reputation of flight attendants," said Noppadol Thaungthong, a Thai Airways flight attendant leading the union's action. "It's all about sex and air hostesses beating each other up in the cabin because of love and jealousy. This kind of thing never happens."

"We are demanding that the station and the producers immediately stop airing this ugly soap opera," Noppadol said.

The union said the show could damage Thai Airways' reputation.

"People will be afraid to fly with us if they see these scenes with flight attendants slapping each other," the union's president Somsak Srinual said at a news conference. He said the show's violence was unrealistic.

"Women don't fight," he said. "They just argue."

The union's letter said that young Thais aspiring to become flight attendants might be turned off from the profession after seeing the soap opera.

"My daughter watched the show and has started to look down on my job," said flight attendant Pichitra Taveerat. "She asked me, 'Is it true that everyone at your job is fighting over guys?' I didn't know what to answer."

A Culture Ministry spokesman said officials could not comment until seeing the letter, which flight attendants were to formally deliver later in the day.

The show's broadcaster, Channel 5, says it had no plan to pull the soap opera but will consider suggesting that scenes found to be offensive be edited out, said spokeswoman Thawinan Kongkran.

"The producer says the soap opera reflects all sides of the profession," Thawinan said. "If some scenes are inappropriate, as the labor union says, we will ask the producer to change that."
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