Most recently, ITV's This Morning show sparked a frenzy when a journalist went on to claim that she felt "less comfortable" when a female pilot was in charge of an airplane. Although freelancer Angela Epstein's comments were answered with logical reasons by Captain Marnie Munns — who has 18 years of experience as a commercial pilot — the discussion seemed to have fuelled a heated debate.
Opening up about the ordeal that "all female pilots" might have faced at least once in their life, a 25-year-old airline professional recently spoke out about the reality of sexism in the airline industry and elsewhere.
Pilot Annie Hellner, who has been working with a reputed airline company since 2 years, explained how her abilities were questioned and how she was told that flying airplane is a "man's job".
"There's been passengers who have doubted my ability to fly the plane, simply because I'm a woman," said London-based Hellner, as quoted by Daily Mail.
She even recalled one incident when a man, "when he found out that I was the pilot, started to complain about why I was let into the flight deck, and that women shouldn't be flying airplanes because it's a man's job".
Hellner, who was encouraged by her father to pursue her career, said, "I think I speak for all female pilots when I say that every female pilot has had similar experiences at least once in their career."
The 25-year-old airline pilot had taken the decision to follow in her father's footsteps, who too was a pilot in the eighties, early in her life. Having decided on the course of action by the age of 13, Hellner was already invested in pilot education in 2012. And by 2016, the young achiever was already working as a First Officer.
While she talks freely about the sexist treatment of female pilots, she also explains that she has also received positive remarks from passengers.
"Most of the comments I get are positive though, many passengers tell me that they're glad to see a woman in the flight deck and that I should be proud of myself," Hellner says adding, "I just hope that we can come to a point when there's no male or female pilots but simply just pilots, because that's exactly what we are."
The flipside of the reality aside, Hellner dishes that there are several perks of being in her profession – "the first one being the office view of course". "I would bet that I have the best view in the world," she adds.
"The rush of adrenaline is simply amazing, when you move the thrust levels for take-off and hear the jet engines spool up, it's something you'll never get tired of. Sometimes I still can't believe that I'm piloting a Boeing 737."
However, the discussion that ensued between commercial pilot Munns and Epstein on Friday (9 February) on the ITV show was far from empowering. Despite Munns reassuring that all pilots, regardless of their gender, are trained to handle "nervous passengers", the media professional continued with her stand.
"If it was somebody who has absolute power and absolute control then I'd like it to be a man," Epstein argued adding, "There's never any question of me feeling less safe, I just don't want it."