Qatar Airways Makes Female Employees Seek Permission To Marry

qatar airways plane
thewamphyri, Flickr

Imagine having to ask your boss for permission before getting married. It sounds crazy, but it’s the reality for tens of thousands of Qatar Airways’ employees. A report by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) claims the airline abuses many of its employees’ basic labor rights, particularly in the case of female workers.

The ITF says the terms and conditions in a typical employee’s contract state that women must “obtain prior permission from the company” if they want to get married. It’s not clear what the consequences of tying the knot without getting the green light would be, but based on what happens if you fall pregnant, we’re guessing the outcome wouldn’t be good. Women who become pregnant are required to notify Qatar Airways as soon as they find out. If they don’t, it’s considered a breach of contract. And even if they do speak up — well, they could be fired anyway, according to the report.While labor laws in Qatar might be tough on workers, more than 90% of the airline’s employees are foreigners, which means they don’t enjoy the same work-related freedoms they would have in their home countries.

The news follows controversy over a Turkish Airlines policy change earlier this year, which forbade female flight attendants from wearing red lipstick, dark nail polish and silver eye makeup, as well as banning them from coloring their hair blonde or red.

Netherlands’ Divorce Hotel Offers Whirlwind Breakups

When it comes to marriage, tying the knot has always been so much faster than untying it. A quickie wedding in Las Vegas can be over in minutes, but a divorce usually takes months or even years to finalize.

The Netherlands is hoping to change all that with the opening of the Divorce Hotel. It’s a place where you check in as a legally wedded couple and check out as exes – all in the space of a weekend.Couples who stay at the hotel are provided with bars, saunas and other amenities to ease any pre-divorce jitters. A mediator then counsels the couple on their decision before a divorce lawyer draws up the paperwork.

The Divorce Hotel is the first place in the world to offer such a quick breakup process and according to the BBC, they’ve been bombarded with inquiries from unhappy couples all over the world. Interested in enlisting their services? The good news (if you can call it that) is that the Dutch concept will soon be offering quickie divorces to couples in the U.S. and U.K. as well.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Parityytirap]

Baltimore Provides Free Planning Assistance For Same-Sex Weddings After Historic Maryland Vote

On Tuesday, when Maryland residents voted to uphold a law legalizing same-sex marriages, the city of Baltimore was ready. Just hours after the election results were in, Visit Baltimore unveiled a dedicated LGBT Wedding microsite, which provides resources for gay and lesbian couples looking to plan a wedding in the city.

“We encourage the LGBT community to visit Baltimore to celebrate their commitments to one another,” said Tom Noonan, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, in a press release. “As a city, we have long been proud to support the rights and equality of our visitors, and the legalization of same-sex marriage is another important step forward.”

Not only is Visit Baltimore extending a warm welcome to same-sex couples planning weddings, receptions and honeymoons, it’s also offering free assistance on tasks like securing marriage licenses, finding caterers and booking rooms at TAG-approved hotels, which are recognized for their non-discriminatory policies toward gay couples. The site also offers up suggestions for unique wedding venues, like the National Aquarium, the Maryland Zoo and the American Visionary Art Museum, with its selection of eccentric “outsider” artwork.

LGBT couples are welcome to apply for a Maryland marriage license starting on January 1, 2013. The Baltimore City license fee is $85, and the fee to be married by a court clerk is $25.[Photo Credit: Visit Baltimore]

Gay Marriage Sees Historic Victories

Gifts From Abroad: What To Bring Your Family When You Come Home

gifts from abroad
My wife and I travel a lot, sometimes together, sometimes separately. We both have careers that require us to travel and while it can be tough to be apart, at least we have the regular ritual of seeing what gifts from abroad are popping out of each other’s suitcases!

My wife just came back from an astronomy meeting in Tokyo and brought back this haul of loot. The Japanese are masters of packaging, whether they’re being stylish and traditional or garish and modern. I wonder what a supermarket full of this stuff must look like. The panda head cookies are especially good. I’ve always wanted a bag of decapitated pandas. The T-shirt is for her, because she knows I’m fond of her “especially cuteness.”

What I forgot to include in this photo were the three bottles of sake she brought back. While I’ve always had my sake warm, she tells me it’s often served cold in Tokyo and that regulars have their own monogrammed bottle reserved for them behind the bar!

When I came back from writing my travel series about Greece, I brought her and my son lots of olives since they both love them. I also brought back some honey from Sparta. My wife adores honey and it’s a good gift to bring from abroad because it tastes different in every region. Of all the honey I’ve brought her from far-flung places, she’s liked the Spartan honey the most.

You’ll notice that we mostly bring back consumables. A great way to share the experience of your trip is to share some of the tastes. Also, we live in a European apartment (read: small) and we have too much stuff anyway.

What gifts from abroad do you like to give or receive? Tell us in the comments section!

gifts from abroad

Galley Gossip: Flight attendant revokes travel privileges from husband

Dear Heather,

Someone I know was requested by his wife to meet him in another state due to a medical emergency on her part. She had been working out of the country. As a retired airline employee, she had flight benefits, which she used to book her husband a flight. As soon as he landed, instead of finding his ailing wife, he was served with notice she was filing for divorce. Once he flew back home, she yanked the flight benefit, leaving him unable to afford to fly back to the far away state to defend his property rights in the divorce. Just wondered if you thought the airlines would frown upon using flight benefits to lure someone into a state under false pretense.

K

Dear K,

Now that is some evil shhh….you-know-what! Wow. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, something like this happens. I feel for your friend, I really do. I can’t believe his soon to be ex lied about being sick in order to get him where she wanted him. Unfortunately for your friend, the retired flight attendant had every right to revoke his travel benefits. I know I would! I’ll get to that in a moment.
While the airline, I’m sure, would frown upon an ex employee using their travel privileges to do such a thing, it’s highly doubtful the airline will take action right away – if even at all. Only because there are two sides to every story and this is a marriage dispute, not a work related issue, involving an EX employee who can’t be reprimanded or fired. Anyway, it’s all he said-she said at this point. What right does the airline have getting involved? What right do we even have judging? (Yet judge we will!) Remember there’s a reason they’re getting a divorce in the first place. Not that it’s any of our business, but it probably has something to do with the fact they weren’t even living together in the same country when the papers were served, which explains why this question about her traveling benefits came to be.

The flight attendant lied. That wasn’t nice. In fact, it was pretty evil. But people do lie, especially those involved in nasty divorce battles. It sounds to me like your friend isn’t angry that his wife lied, but that he lost his right to travel. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t understand how divorces work so I can’t comment on his right to defend himself in another country. What I can tell you is flight attendants are responsible for the behavior of those traveling on their buddy passes. This is why flight attendants don’t just hand them over to anyone! If her soon to be ex husband were to misbehave on a flight and get written up by another airline employee, the retired flight attendant could very well lose her travel benefits forever! I wouldn’t chance it. Those are her passes. She earned them. She has every right to decide who gets to use them regardless of what’s going on in the marriage.

Do you believe in karma? I do. So if this retired flight attendant is as bad as you believe her to be, I’m sure she’ll get hers in the end. Until then, let the divorce judge decide. Just my two cents…

Thanks for writing

Heather

Photo courtesy of DCMaster