Bikini models pose in front of an airplaine

There is clearly something irresistible about flying through the air and being waited upon by beautiful women – the ticket sales prove it.


A budget airline in Vietnam is exploiting an age-old truism: sex sells. Commonly known as the “bikini airline”, VietJet has soared to popularity in recent years. The company used an unconventional strategy on its way to capturing 30% of the total airline market in Vietnam: bikini-clad stewardesses. The budget airline has raced ahead of its competition and is now projected surpass even the top-ranked Vietnamese airline.

Their controversial PR stunts started back in 2011, when VietJet launched a series of advertising images showcasing attractive stewardesses dressed only in bikinis. This maneuver tapped into a youthful Vietnamese population that is traveling more than ever before. Suddenly, there was an allure around the airlines which never existed before. The company recently enjoyed a successful debut on the stock market.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao

VietJet CEO, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao

Turning Lust into Profit

Many people are surprised to learn that the CEO and founder of VietJet is a woman. Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao came up with the idea to staff her airlines with sexy bikini-clad female flight attendants, making headlines and garnering tremendous attention. While the decision was (and continues to be) controversial, it’s hard to argue with the results: Thao now holds the title of Vietnam’s first female billionaire.

When asked if she had any qualms about using risqué images to sell airline tickets, she stated, ‘We don’t mind people associating the airline with the bikini image. If that makes people happy, then we are happy.”

Bikini Backlash

The criticism has been vocal. A lot of people are uncomfortable with VietJet’s decision to sexualize the image of their female flight attendants. A veteran flight attendant and well-known author expressed her concern on Twitter, explaining that involving bikinis “just invites unwanted attention and sends the wrong message.”

It was certainly a risky gamble, but the marketing strategy helped give the airline international recognition and success. However, critics say the tactic is in especially bad taste given Vietnam’s dark history. The troubled country has long been a hotbed for sex trafficking. Thousands of women and young children become victims of sexual exploitation and forced prostitution each year.

That’s why, aside from the obvious objectification of women, many native Vietnamese have taken to social media to decry the “bikini airline” for its negative impact on Vietnam’s image in the international community. While the country has been working to stop the sex trafficking epidemic, VietJet’s provocative marketing risks reversing the hard-fought progress that has been made.

Flight attendants wearing bikinisLust and Layovers

Here’s the problem: marketing works. And when you can so easily tap into a base human instinct such as lust, it’s no wonder airline tickets are selling like hotcakes. For a lot of men, there is something irresistible about flying through the air and being waited upon by beautiful women. The rise of VietJet and its continued success proves this.

No Plans to Change

Despite the criticism, VietJet is not shying away from its controversial strategies. The airline has even announced plans to grow its fleet to 200 planes by 2023. The company wants to keep pushing the boundaries, capitalizing on the deadly sin of lust to make sure business is always booming.

Is it ethical to use sex to sell airline tickets? Would you ever book a flight on “bikini air”?

29 comments

  1. Alice Elyaman says:

    Interesting that last week you had an article about Nike hijab swim gear and so many people commented negatively that hijab oppresses women. I wonder what those same people will say about Bikini Airline. I suppose a woman undressed is not an oppression, yet a woman covered is. This is a strange world we live in.

    1. Roger says:

      I think you’re missing the point… Women should have the freedom to dress however they please. If they want to wear a bikini, then more power to them! But it’s their choice.

      The women oppressed under Islam are forced to dress in a certain manner by the religious patriarchy. THAT is the difference.

      1. Alice Elyaman says:

        As a Muslim and have been in the community for 40 years, I have yet to meet any Muslim Woman who says she is forced to wear hijab. I have met women who took it off and women who put it on, but the only place it is forced is the streets of certain countries whose Islam is doubtful at the best. The Quran specifically states there is no compulsion in religion.
        But that is not the common stereotype, so will probably not be believed.

        But you are right, women should be free to wear whatever they want. I just feel sad that women would chooses to walk almost naked for a job. Doesn’t that degrade and objectify them? Can one be Godly and walk in a bikini?

        1. Suzy says:

          Of Course the woman can wear a bikini and be godly. If any person feels uncomfortable or just does NOT like the Bikini Airline, fly Another airline. There are plenty of other choices. To each their own. Everyone should be able to do what makes them happy, without Judgement from other people. The judge mentalists should mind their own business and pay more attention to what THEIR DOING

      2. Roy Patterson says:

        Roger, Agree 100%!!!!

      3. danni says:

        Bravo Roger!!

    2. Anthony Cunningham says:

      It is sad Alice,
      I read the comments from men below and I am saddened by their fundamental misunderstanding of what you are saying. They do not have any excuses, their level of ignorance is determined by their unwillingness to understand Vietnam culture, historical exploitation of sex.
      The argument women have the right to choose is stupid, a demonstration of ignorance about their own culture as well as others.
      I am saddened by the fact fewer and fewer people choose not to think and be informed before they speak.

      Bravo Alice

  2. Alice Elyaman says:

    and we still have yet to get any other comment, but the nike comments were flying like hotcakes!

  3. Roger says:

    This is clearly a smart strategy. The PC police might not like it, but the $$$ speaks for itself. Brilliant tactic by the CEO.

  4. brian ham says:

    Muslim men need to understand that the Quran says they should observe hijab first, not women
    For some reason, a lot of men seem to think they can simply force women to observe hijab.
    Instead, the Quran and Prophet Muhammad are clear: in Islam, us men are not actually allowed to do that at all. The burden of modesty lies with us

    ‘There is not even any commandment to forcibly cover the heads of Muslim women, let alone non-Muslim women,’ says the Khalifa of Islam Nike

    That is, when addressing hijab, the Quran does not address women first. It addresses men first. That’s not a typo. Islam places the primary responsibility of observing hijab not on women – but on men. It’s critical to understand this point.

    People often conflate “hijab” and “headscarf”. Wearing the headscarf is one form of hijab, but men often forget that hijab is much more. And at the genesis of the hijab discussion, the Quran commands men to not stare at women and to not be promiscuous. The Quran 24:31 obliges men to observe modesty: “Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well aware of what they do.”

    This verse rebukes forced laws on women that claim “women must cover otherwise men are distracted”. It destroys rape culture because it commands men to reform themselves first and exclusively. It demolishes complaints that what a woman is wearing is “too provocative”, whatever that means, because it flat out forbids men from gawking at women.

  5. Joseph E Knopick says:

    Hooters in the Sky!

    1. Joseph E Knopick says:

      Yes it is true…they are effectively bare. Yet they are in Bathing suits. There is a difference in the clothing, if they were in only bra and panties it would make a real difference in perception, social taboo. Now think about this coming from a country of Communist Oppression, not a free market nation. Plus the CEO is also a gorgeous young woman.

      1. Joseph E Knopick says:

        The upper photo reminds me of a WW II campaign ad.

        1. Ben says:

          You’re right. I new it looked familiar but I just couldn’t figure out why.

    2. Ben says:

      With Diamonds?

  6. ericapena2017 says:

    I think it is a BRILLIANT marketing idea. It’s not a conservative one, but I know it will take off!

  7. Marsha Smith says:

    No, that is not right. This is Satan and his lust and perversion. Come quickly Lord Jesus.

  8. Ben says:

    I have no problem with it. And not because I’m a guy. It’s certainly better than the way United treats its passengers.

    1. Suzy says:

      I’m a woman, and I think it’s great. It seems like a fun atmosphere to enjoy when traveling. Anything has got to be better than the norm. I bet the time Flys by!

  9. danni says:

    The women are not naked. They are not forced to keep this job. These women have a choice in how they dress and if they want to do this job. There are other airlines they could for if this makes them feel exploited. My guess is they are paid more than enough to make them not care about the uniform. If they like the job, the money and they are comfortable in the bikini… let them make that choice. It’s called freedom.

    1. danni says:

      Was supposed to say.. there are other airlines they could work for..

  10. Alice Elyaman says:

    yes, people have free will to work in Porn films as well. Reminds me of a Hooters, but an airplane has much tighter spaces to maneuver around each other, so passengers will be bumping into scantily clad flight attendants. A “Gentleman”s Club” in the air.

  11. Jim says:

    Ugh! I have to groan every time one of these stories comes up and I read the comments. Just leave the bikini people alone, will you? They’re not hurting anyone. If you don’t want to see bikini-clad flight attendants, don’t buy a ticket on their airline. If you really feel like you have to save someone, go fight the gangs that actually are involved in sex trafficking. But you won’t do that because that’s hard and potentially dangerous. So you’ll attack the airline because it’s safe. The most you’ll have to deal with is a press release, if that. Go fight real sex trafficking gangs, and you might get your head chopped off. So you go ahead and be brave and fight the bikini stewardesses. Don’t throw out your shoulder patting yourself on the back for a job well done.

    Oh, and by the way, Hooters Air has been making the friendly skies a little friendlier since 2003. Don’t hear a lot of complaints about that.

    And one last thing… leave the hijab wearers alone too. Same rules apply. If you don’t like it, don’t buy a hijab, but leave the women that want to wear them alone. They’re not hurting you, and they didn’t ask you to save them. There are enough catastrophes in the world with real victims. Your offended eyes don’t count.

  12. Ryan says:

    It’s very much worth noting that the attendants are allowed to CHOOSE between a traditional uniform and the two piece, according to their press releases. I don’t know if there are incentives behind the scenes or what, but the employees overwhelmingly choose to wear the bikini. This is not even a question of “you must dress provocatively or lose your job”.

    1. Danni says:

      Exactly. If that were the situation the women still have a choice to work there or somewhere else. This is not something they are forced to do. My guess is they get paid more to wear bikinis. I feel it makes the people who use this airline just because the women are in bikinis look worse than the women themselves. At least the women are doing this for a paycheck. What are those sitting in the seats gawking getting out of it lol

  13. John v says:

    Anyone remember the topless stewardess airline in California a few decades ago? Can’t remember the name of the airline.

  14. Alice Elyaman says:

    Anyone see this objectifies women?Women are valued for their physical parts, not anything else.

    Sex sell. Nothing wrong with that? This is a Religious website these articles are being shared on. I just shake my head and wonder.
    What happens when one of these ladies has a child and that perfect body is no longer perfect? Would she still be able to keep her job?
    And what about body shaming? Can Western women compete with this, majority is overweight and flubby. Is this maybe an unreal standard that is being help up to women?

  15. Vinny says:

    I believe a flight on Viet Jet would be a very pleasurable experience. The human body is most wonderful,especially the female anatomy,why not display it? A very good idea,indeed. I approve whole heartedly.

  16. Rev John says:

    As long as the women who wear the bikini are happy with it and men are willing to pay for a little titillation and fantasy. I do not see a problem in it. After all sex is comparative to the bible – The bible is the most distributed and owned book and the least read, in comparison to its distribution. Sex is the most thought about thing (past childhood) and the least performed, in comparison to time used in thought.

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