Today’s main news about Emirates Airline is its refusal to be FIFA’s sponsor next year. As a reason for this we can find that “Emirates are reportedly ending the co-operation because of Fifa’s tainted image over corruption allegations”.
This news just made me laugh. One corrupted company is leaving another corrupted company and love is over once the corruption got into public. FIFA was not a saint organization before, occasional corruption allegations showed up here and there in media during past years. It seems that the newest one is going to backfire to FIFA’s head very hard so sponsors decided to leave the ship once it has sailed into public waters.
As I told you yesterday I’ve got many stories about employees’ experiences within Emirates Airline. This story of one cabin crew from Eastern Europe is just one of them. Many stories will follow.
I joined emirates in 2012. As a 22 year old Eastern European who has a restless soul and funny thoughts about settling down, I was full of enthusiasm and excitement when I gave my resignation letter to the head master of the school where I was working at to leave for the glamorous trollydolly world in Dubai. I had seen all the possible recruitment videos, read all forums where I – subconsciously cut out all the parts where EK staff treatment was discussed- and I couldn’t wait to turn new page, to leave my tiny salary and all-year-round shitty sky weather behind.
The sugar icing on top of the new glamour cake started to melt sooner than I ever expected. I can still recall, even after 27 months of serving chicken and beef and killing my brain and memory with numb obedience and no thinking, how a girl in an auditorium full of approx. 100 people, was spotted during the induction week by a speech giving trainer. This girl violated a big no go rule. She was drinking water from the bottle! As all hundred heads turned onto this blushing face, it became clear that there is no messing around with what you have been told. This girl was being embarrassed and humiliated in front of a crowd and as I later learned, this is airlines management works.
A friend of mine had a one on her flight review because the perfumes in the lavatories didn’t face the right way. Another friend had the same mark because she has bending for the trays in the cart in an incorrect manner. One on my favourite ones was on a long flight where the senior overheard a colleague talking to passenger who was from the same city as her, about her family and childhood. One should not discuss personal things with passenger! Although it doesn’t say anywhere that you can’t, the power gets into peoples head and as rules and regulations change more often than day and night, seniors often take advantage of it. And crew cannot be bothered to fight for their rights because that would mean giving explanations in the office on your rare day off. For the same reasons, most of the seniors on board request the crew to do most of the cleaner’s job after landing. If there is a blanket left under the seat or sachet of sugar on top of the galley, it might get documented and senior must explain in writing why it happened and what is the learning point of this event.
There is a constant fear of reporting which is stimulated by the company. A lot of reporters are magically upgraded in their carrier. On e senior reporting another that economy class didn’t do towels on a six-and-a-half hour London flight where they didn’t sit down and eat not even for one minute and instead by the time they finished the first service they should have already started the next one. The crew travelling as passenger reporting his/hers colleagues for giving them a full bottle of water although we shouldn’t but for god’s sake, for your own colleague! The reason why the purses don’t even give a 10 longer brake in the crc even on an empty quiet flight is because they have been reported and even downgraded because of that.
Long flights are for me the worst. Especially the ones where EK is violating all the legal rest time regulations. The flight to JFK is aprox 13-14 hours. Reporting time for the crew is 2 hours before departure. Given that the flight departs at 08.30, we need to report at 0630, take the bus – depending on the accommodation – at 0530 and wake up – again depending on the person – around 0430. In JFK the immigration procedures and bus ride to the hotel takes around two to two and-a-half hours. By that time most of us have been awake ca 20 hours. The ones with irregular sleeping patterns, probably way more. From the time we get to the hotel room, it’s usually 19-20 hours left until the wake up call. And the same long 24 hour shift can start again. Every one in this company knows that EK is paying fain for that in the US but its still cheaper for them than to provide us with one extra night of sleep and adjustment. The same flying time is applicable to Washington, Sao Paolo, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide. Two hour inflight rest in the A380 CRC where you can end up sleeping literally on the floor in the compartment which is located next to 4 toilets and main socializing area on this aircraft. It is rather impossible to have sleep when every two seconds there is a toilet flushing, many people talking, banging the door and what not. The same time ca 5 crew on the main deck have to attend to 429 peoples needs.
On one of my 15 hour flights, we had a 45 minute delay from Dubai. We reported to the duty around 8 AM, took off around 11AM, did a 15 hour flight, disembarked all 350 passengers, did our checks, cleaned blankets, headsets, sealed all containers etc, went through the immigration, sat on the bus. By the time we got to the hotel, it was around 9 PM local time whereas the wake up call is 7 PM the next evening. So I went to bed immediately when I got to my room, slept nicely the whole night, woke up in the morning, trying to adjust to the time difference and jet lag. But what should I do in order to be able to take another nap before the wake up call in the evening? So by the time we take off the next evening at 11.30 PM, I have been awake for 15 hours already, the jet lag and time difference doesn’t’ allow me to sleep twice in 12 hour daylight time. We arrived to Dubai and I have been awake over 30 hours. How can be held responsible if god forbid we have to evacuate, be alert, sharp and take care of my own and 350 other peoples lives? I filled out fatigue report stating that this layover time needs to be increased or Emirates should never say that safety is their first priority. The answer that I received from Ted Green one month and four days was that increasing the layover time is simply not possible.
A friend of my friend is in final warning because she fainted in the briefing and needed to be offloaded from the flight. But if crew is forced to do the flights like my Sao Paulo maybe 3 times a month followed by couple e.g CMB, MLE, NBO, ATH or IST turnarounds which take around 15 hours of your day?
I think we don’t even want to go to the salary thing. We get paid from the moment the aircraft pushes back. The longest that I personally have been delayed onboard with customers is 5 hours, together with signing in its 7 hours. We did a full service on the ground. For free.
The two years that I’ve been in the company, the whole concept of swapping flights have been changed; every month there is some new regulation which doesn’t allow you to change pretty much anything on your roster. And the rules- as they say – come from GCAA which is surprisingly ruled by the same man as Emirates. The chairman of the government-owned airline, Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, is also president of the CAA and on the board of the GCAA.
This is something to give thought about.
I don’t even want to start with the image and uniform issues. Every single crew is just so tired of it and just can’t care anymore. On my flight to LHR, the purser insisted to offload 6 people, because ones skirt was too long, the other ones too tight, the SFSs hair color was not correct, the SUPYs skirt was greased etc. We are asked to remove the jackets during I&U checks so that the SFS could see if our bras have appropriate color.
There are many examples of people who got sick while on vacation in their hometown. This is not acceptable according to Emirates. Even if you have a doctor’s certificate not to fly because of let’s say an ear infection, you will still get ordered back to Dubai, or an absent and a warning most probably. If you pop your ears and get permanent damage, you are not covered and treated on the insurance. Because of this punishment culture, there is a tendency to refrain from calling sick after a vacation, and to actually operate ill. You are mostly seen as a number and a chart which states your attendance.
Most of us are dream about a cabin crew job but in a different airline. People go to Europe and work for low cost airlines, where they have unions, laws and protection. In difference with our ground staff colleagues we get a nice pay at the end of the month and this is the one and only motivation for 95% of the crew. The rest enjoys the power, and in this two years I’ve actually seen about 5-10 people who do believe in Emirates and it’s way of taking care of their employees like in the middle ages. One the Emirates big value is being empathetic, that’s how we as the faces of Emirates – the ground staff, the crew, the pilots, should be. Why doesn’t Emirates show us how it is done?