Emirates Airline’s life style brand: your good life style is our staff’s miserable life OR How Emirates Airline robs from its employees?

I have read this article yesterday and I was left speechless due to insolence of the last paragraph where Mr.Tim Clark, the president of Emirates Airline and former CEO, states:

 “I just do not accept that the airline business is cyclical, and that airlines will inevitably go out of business in the end,” he said. “The ones who’ve disappeared in the past – like Pan Am and TWA – had different business models. And none of them had Dubai, with its geocentricity. None of the legacy carriers had the kind of thinking we have and the natural aviation attractions of a domestic hub like Dubai.”

Employees of Emirates Airline are sick and tired of their managers telling to the public how powerful company is, arrogantly lecturing other airlines and accusing them of bad business practises in comparison with EK’s business practises.

This is the simple truth about Emirates Airline’s business practice:

Emirates Airline hires staff from less developed countries by deceiving them about their contracts and working conditions and then they exploit and abuse them.

I was, for example, hired for Dnata’s Marhaba service. Only when I came to Dubai I found out that I will be working in check in area. Since salary for ground staff is so small and working conditions so bad, during the recruitment process recruiters use lies to make people willing to come and work for them. The usual way is to tell the cabin crew wannabes that they can apply for cabin crew from ground staff, if they come to work as ground staff. This is an obvious lie, because internal hirings are rare and only few among hundreds of applicants are chosen due to the shortage of staff in Airport Services. 

Once people arrive to Dubai, they already left their homes and previous jobs, if they had them. So, every “take it or leave it” choice is, actually, mean emotional blackmail as most of them don’t have where to return to. This makes new employees of Emirates Airline vulnerable for all sorts of exploitation and abuse. Their contract is violated with forced overtimes and extra unpaid working hours and with all sorts of bullying and punishing for a small or for somebody else’s mistake. 

I already wrote about the things that ground staff do for free in Emirates Airline. Today I am going to explain a few more ways of EK managers to steal money from their employees

1. Blackmail with End of Service benefit

Emirates Airline has a huge problem with massive resignations. So huge that they even don’t have enough crew to operate the flights, so some flights are cancelled or delayed. Management is even lying to the cabin crew by not telling them until the briefing that they would be doing double turnarounds or double sectors (!). There are situations (usually when flying short distances and double turnarounds – Doha, Kuwait, Muscat) where crew is working 12 hours per day and being paid for only 4 or 5 hours which is how much they are in the air. Company doesn’t include ground hours in crew’s salary although crew is at work.

Due to these awful working conditions and poisoned organizational culture, which are very damaging for staff’s health, many crew resign. Problem is that Emirate Airline can’t afford so many resignations. They desperately need crew and they don’t have enough resources to process so many resignations. So they have decided to start to reject crew’s resignations. Of course, crew want their End of Service benefit so they can’t just go, they want to resign properly and as per the law. Managers know this so they are now abusing this fact to force people to stay a little bit longer in the company, keeping them as half hostages. I’ve got this information from one cabin crew:

I recently flew with a xxx, who has been in the company around xxx years. Crew has given in their resignation letter TWICE and both times they received an email saying, that they are unfortunately unable to process the REQUEST due to the …probably operational needs 🙂  Shorty, this resignation was declined because there are too many people leaving. And as crew’s EOSB are around 20 000 AED or above for now, so crew cannot just leave or be kicked out, they want to have their hard earned money.

Keeping an unsatisfied employee by force and manipulating them to stay with money, is taking EK’s unprofessional HR management and poor organizational culture to a whole new extremely disgraceful level. The company is just rotting from inside and it’s only a matter of time when the outside is starting to turn ugly as well.

2. Overcharging for uniform items

As much as this seems ridiculous it is happening for a long time now. Let’s take shoes for example. Staff is forced to wear them for one year. After that they get free replacements. It is just outrageous to expect anyone to wear the same shoes almost every working day for a whole year. But EK managers do that, hoping that many staff will just go to their store and buy new ones for around 180 AED. And many staff do so, as it is very dangerous to walk around on ruined heels.

The newest idea of EK management on how to take money from their employees are “nationality pins” (flag pins) which cabin crew are forced to wear. Every replacement costs 30 AED. You guess how many lost small pins will be in one year and what profit will EK have just by charging the pin replacements.

3. Asking for money from former employees

When I went to collect my suspension salary, it wasn’t in the system. Instead, EK end of service counter staff notified me that I owe the company several thousands of dirhams. He even printed the bill for me. I laughed. I asked him three times to check with his superiors about my salary, which he finally did. And I got my salary. Not without the troubles. 

One former ground staff sent me recently her bill. She got it at her home address. She resigned suddenly. She went home and never came back which is a usual situation in Emirates Airline. But this girl notified her managers that she will not come back, she arranged her uniform and uniform assets to be returned to the company and she asked how she can cancel her visa from her home country. She left her End of service money and leave balance to the company. After three months she got a letter from Emirates Airline, asking her to pay several thousands of dirhams to them. This bill included the deduction of her notice period salary (she didn’t do her notice period) but it didn’t include her End of service benefit and unpaid leave balance which she left to the company. How embarrassing is this? Such a huge and “successful” company trying to squeeze the money from their abused employees?

And I just happen to personally know several other people who were asked for a money at the end of their service.

EK Letter to former employee (at the bottom there is a threat what will happen if dues are not paid)

EK Letter to former employee (at the bottom there is a threat what will happen if dues are not paid)



The bill which doesn’t include end of service benefit and rest of leave days. A sneaky way of EK managers to try and take the money from their former employees.

4. Cancelling loads view in the staff travel system

One of the benefit of working with any airline are discounted airplane tickets. There are numerous types of discounted staff tickets, but most popular are called ID90 and ID50. ID90 is a cheaper, standby ticket. You only get a seat if there are available seats on board. ID50 is more expensive one, but it should be confirmed, you should get your seat except in extraordinary circumstances.

Whenever they travelled before, staff could see in the system the exact number of booked seats and number of staff with discounted tickets travelling. It was very useful information as it gave the staff opportunity to plan their trips and calculate the possibility the get the seat on a desired flight.

Recently, EK management decided to cancel this option. No more exact numbers of passengers on flights. Why? Answer is very easy: more people will buy more expensive ID50 tickets in order to have bigger chances to get the seat and less people will travel uncertain of their possibilities to be back on time. Less people travelling means more people available for work, which is a good deal for EK because they are lack of staff anyway.

More on this subject here.

Loads can be seen only in colours now.

Loads can be seen only in colours now.

Explanation on colour meaning.

Explanation on colour meaning.

These are just few ways of how Emirates Airline robs its employees. I know you know many more ways, so please do write about them in the comments.

So, it seems that Mr.Tim Clark found a better business model after all. Of course, airlines which he criticizes for having difficulties only have them because their competition airline abuses underpaid half slaves. This doesn’t make Mr.Tim Clark a business genius, but rather a ruthless and unethical manager who had the luck to be on the top of the company which is not the subject to any labour law.

Mr.Tim Clark also forgets that Abu Dhabi, Doha and Muscat also have a great “geocentricity”, so Emirates Airline is not without a competition.

There are, also, other ways to be left out of the business. One of the most important ones is brutal exploitation of labour force. One company can not simply abuse thousands of people for years and then expect to be loved and successful brand.

So much of a life style brand. Your good life style is our staff’s miserable life.



11 responses to “Emirates Airline’s life style brand: your good life style is our staff’s miserable life OR How Emirates Airline robs from its employees?

  • Anonymous

    I highly doubt if EK was US based airline (as the quoted TWA and PanAm), it would have survived even 10 years, based on their current management expertise and the traditional unions demands.
    EK is quite lucky to be in the connection between billion worth traveller market (India) and the rest of the world. Used to be exclusive when Mr. Maurice was running the show. Today it’s just a “cattle train” as one US passenger once told me.
    Tim Clark also helpfully forgets the total loss accidents with TWA and Pan Am (and many other large airlines before), greatly contributed of having those giants go out of business. Let’s hope such terrible events never happen to EK…


  • Alan

    Emirates business model relies on many factors, but four of the major ones are cheap labor, a non unionized work force with zero rights, under-resourcing at all levels and weak regulation. The last factor is huge, the local regulator is utterly compromised by nepotism and cronyism. This lack of regulation allows the airline to bend and break civil aviation standards on a regular basis, it is hugely beneficial to the bottom line.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Guest

    Ms Dragana,

    Last week, a HR manager’s ( Damian) contract was not renewed. The irony of the situation was that he was hired to retain employees.

    I have a MBA from an Ivy League School and the means that Ms Anoma conducted the meeting has to be less desired. As a matter of fact, I mentioned the recording to my colleagues in public relations and they were amused by it.

    Dragana, you do have friends in higher management that are aware of the toxic culture that is perpetuated at the airport. For those of us who have an empathetic upbringing, I pray that the steep hierarchy is a concern for all of us.

    A concerned colleague


    • admindragana

      Ms. Anoma Manuel was not desired before, as well. Her incompetence and harassment of staff were well known before, as well. She was not popular at the airport, as well. Yet, somehow, she managed to stay, implement damaging policies and practices, bully many people and be transferred to outstations, where she is allowed to continue her mismanagement.

      There is one story circulating around the airport and since I have many Ukrainian friends I got to hear that story from them. There was one Ukrainian girl accused of making some damage to the company. Ms. Anoma called that girl to the meeting and tried to make her confess the damage. This girl claimed that she was falsely accused. And Ms. Anoma told her that “she is ugly and that she can fire her just for scaring the passengers off with her face”. Now, is this one Divisional Vice President’s behaviour? And they criticize me for asking about her salary? How hypocritical is that?

      There is another story about Ms.Anoma’s behaviour, when she yelled at one First and Business class Duty Officer “Don’t give me that bull*hit!” in front of everyone, while DO answered very politely. She talked with her staff like this all the time.

      Third example of her behaviour (my friend was present when this happened) is when she came to check in area to check supervisors’ uniforms (just before they got new uniforms) and she told one supervisor that he is “fat”. Also in front of everyone.

      This kind of behaviour is intolerable in civilized parts of the world and in modern companies. Yet, Ms.Anoma managed to hurt and offend so many people with her unprofessional approach. Her immediate superior Mr.Mohammed Mattar and HR managers Sophia Panaiotoy, Michelle Carswell, Amanda Maxwell and M.H.Maktoom defended that behaviour of hers by never answering my work harassment complaint and by terminating my service in a very ugly way, and they did it all by Ms.Anoma’s desire.

      I guess that recording is amusing. Even to me, although I was the one who got fired for asking one non-offensive question, while Ms. Anoma brutally offended so many people.


  • Anonymous

    Lifestyle – what lifestyle?
    Long working hours, no useful vacation periods, chopped up in smaller chunks, incompetent management makes subordinates suffer with very unpleasant attitudes, irregular working hours, no time for private social life, forced living restrictions and relocations, unable to plan for or attend family gathering and friends’ weddings, birthdays, etc.
    We are all Dhimmies, useful semi-slaves.
    Even some reasonable middle managers seem to agree this house of cards is falling down.
    A larger Gulf Air melt down, anyone?
    I’m desperately trying to find an exit strategy…


  • Anonymous

    Don’t worry guys it’s not only emirates this is the culture of UAE .

    It s a mistake going there ..


  • Monty

    Wow guys thanks alot for the reviews about that shitty airline I was on the verge of applying to join them. Well the good working conditions are certainly my number one priority in order for me to be productive, anyways I am sorry to hear of all your bad experiences and I hope that you manage to take off asap.
    Between, what are the coinsicoiceses of just letting go?


  • anonymous

    Wow what an eye opener. I too was on the verge of applying for a position but had a funny feeling the promo was too good to be true. And I couldn’t help but wonder why this airline is making such regular visits all over the world to gather staff. Turns out their staff are constantly disolving-It’s just that toxic. What a waste when they could actually make a real name for themselves if they simply respected people. They could have people pining for a chance to work for them instead of rallying for their ultimate demise. Thank you for informing those of us who would have gone and made a big mistake!

    Liked by 1 person

  • ROY C. (the guy with the emirates logo tattoo)

    I’ve been flying emirates for over 28 years now. and noticed quite a change, especially over the last 5 or so. I didn’t know the crew wasn’t in any union. I am a strong “union” man. I’m not a business flyer. just an ordinary guy. and trying to get cheaper seats (12 months in advance) they are always sold out! don’t let them get you down emirates crew. I am using another carrier this year. but will miss emirates air crew.


  • me

    All is a sad fact, however according to the UAE law you get End of Service Benefit after you fully completed 1 year of employment. So the person who worked for 10 months couldn’t get it according to law.



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