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Another story of depressed Emirates cabin crew

I am thankful to all the EK staff who had the strength and courage to describe their experience with depression while working for Emirates Airline. Common thing of all people with depression is that they think that they are alone and that nobody feels like they do. They are also pushed to believe that something is wrong with them, especially by EK managers.

Only one EK employee can truly understand another one as we all have been through the system which deliberately tries to make you feel worthless and brainwash you to ensure that you will remain obedient and scared and do more for less.

You are not alone and your reaction to circumstances in the company which abuses its employees in every possible way while giving no appreciation for your hard work is only normal. I can guarantee that most of EK staff experience some form of depression.

As an Human Resources professional I have to say that after reading all of your confessions and stories I am deeply disturbed and sometimes even surprised by the extent of managerial indifference to the problems of their employees.

I still wear my “I love Emirates” bag and my Emirates key-chain as I really do cherish my time spent in this company. But its management achieved unthinkable levels of inhumanity and lack of understanding that only satisfied staff can ensure future profit.

As I sometimes receive disturbing messages when I mention Dubai and UAE’s economy and future plans I will not do it this time but I would like to raise my doubts in benevolence of EK management. Everyone who has a little corporate experience and education can see that their actions really do bring profit in short terms (by cutting costs on the expense of their staff’s quality of life and working conditions), but in long terms they are destroying the company from the grounds.

Managerial structure of Emirates Airline is seriously damaged and it serves only to milk the Emirates cow and let it die in the desert. As local managers should be more concerned about their legacy, their education, experience and tolerant personal culture should help them reverse current power driven and arrogant organisational culture to more humane one. If western managers are mostly there because they couldn’t find jobs in their home countries and to take as much money as they can before leaving UAE, local managers should give up on fear culture and build new team work and mutual care culture. For the sake of their still truly great brand.

Crew's email.

Crew’s email.

Hi Dragana,

As I’ve explained to you before, my story is very similar to the one you posted recently, and no doubt to many anonymous crew remaining silent.

I moved to Dubai nearly two years ago with the same innocent hopes and foolish dreams most of us have former to becoming cabin crew. Previous work experience helped me decipher the false advertising, constant brainwashing, not to mention lying on open days and during training (quote: “We’re the best airline in the world, if we chose YOU it’s because you’re the best as well). How ironic.

I wasn’t displeased, even after seeing the candid environment of the UAE, being of a cheerful nature. However, the constant pressure of having to be ‘perfect’ while lacking the resources to do so, receiving absolutely no gratification for a job well done, soon got to me. You can add to that stress: loneliness, long hours, jet lag, and everything else previously mentioned on this blog that most crew know only too well.

In the end, I’m just an ordinary girl that didn’t look in alcohol, sex or humdrum friendships what Emirates refused to give me: respect. And was just left with her own shortfalls. I did my best every single day, tired myself out, but still the company was telling me via flight reviews that my best wasn’t enough, my fatigue wasn’t valid and my sick days should be justified. There’s only so much a person can give without burning the candle at both ends.

One day, I was doing a flight to Rome, and spent 5 hours trying to explain to my superiors why I didn’t constantly have a smile on my face. I felt close to tears, and the horrible weight of depression that had threatened to smolder me over the past months became overwhelming. I arrived in my room, collapsed and couldn’t get out of bed for that 24hr layover. (Which seemed so absurd to me.. I was in Italy! This was my dream!) I told the company I had food poisoning as a way to get out of doing the return flight, and as soon as I got back, seeked help with the Employee Assistance Program.

That’s when the endless appointments and useless explanations began. One person referred me to another, who referred me to someone else, and all the while they repeated the word ‘confidentiality’ which I didn’t trust. So I lied. No I’ve never felt like this before, no I don’t think I need any official help, I have no suicidal thoughts, I eat and sleep properly. The questions asked resembled more an interview than a genuine desire to help.

When the last therapist I saw suggested I needed to go back to my country to get some proper rest, he gave me a week off, but my manager had to approve my return home. Although he said I didn’t have to give reasons, she refused to see me that day (Monday) claiming she was ‘too busy’, made me wait until Wednesday before an appointment, not even consenting to pick up the phone (I called her five times that day and left numerous messages both with her secretary and on her email). She refused to call me back, and sent me a short email claiming once more that she was ‘too busy’. Two days later, after 45minutes delay, she invited me in a closed off room (not her cubicle) with no witnesses, where she promptly started harassing me for details, at first pretending to be conciliate, then using blackmail. Only an hour later, when it became clear I would yield no personal information, did she consent in letting me go, explaining her disappointment, and forcing me to promise I would return that Tuesday in much better shape (or else). Papers were signed to consolidate this agreement. I was desperate and signed, although I did of course read the papers which she tried to dismiss as ‘formal nonsense’, but  had little options. By then, it was too late to catch a flight, so in total I got to spend 3 days with my family. This was supposed to be enough to recover from the nervous breakdown I could sense I was having.

Prolonging my sick days proved to be a hassle, since my manager had all but warned me that if she did let me go home, it was because I had to promptly go back to work. She assured me lots of people managed to work even with personal issues, and although she had no idea what my dilemma was, it didn’t matter. The fact was, if I didn’t get over it, I was clearly too weak minded, and Emirates wouldn’t pay me to stay at home.

The pressure intended to make me feel guilty just outraged me enough to take my own sweet time in getting better.

Emirates clearly doesn’t know how to deal with real people with real problems. Their solution is to send them home. After receiving threats from my manager, and basically hearing her tell me I should resign, it only confirmed my belief that we are just a number. Not once in all these months when I visited the clinic did they ask me what my name was (except to confirm they had the right ‘staff number’). I don’t remember any of the secretaries ever saying ‘Hi, how are you’ to me either.

As for therapy, that was a wonderful joke. After filling out more interview-like questions, the Dubai Healthcare Clinic psychologist decided that I should be on antidepressants, which would result in another month at home (by then half my pay was going into the pockets of Emirates) and further complications, including the suspension of my GCAA license.

When I finally got it back, it reads in small print that I should visit a doctor once a month. Which is entertaining when I go into briefings before flights, have my documents checked and hear the SFS say “What’s that specification on your license?”. None of your business, that’s what.

It’s been a couple of months now. I never took the medication, and I haven’t seen a doctor since November. No one seems to care. The only person that checks up on me regularly is my manager to have reassurance that I am ‘back on track’ and will not ‘let her down again’ (her words, not mine).

Anyway, that’s the whole story. No doubt a lot of people have similar ones (if they haven’t been fired for being ‘weak’).

Thanks again for allowing us to speak up, your blog is truly inspirational,

Best wishes,

xxx

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17 responses to “Another story of depressed Emirates cabin crew

  • anonymousgirl

    not sure if you know and a little off topic but a 35 year old executive secretary passed away on Wednesday at eghq. She was 4 months pregnant and married to a cabin crew. She passed away during her shift. May God find her a place in heaven. The allegations are leaking that she fainted and when asked for a doctor which actually is downstairs they asked her what grade she was!!!! Because only managers and higher get access to the clinics they simply sent a nurse to tend to her. By the time an ambulance came she passed away. DISGUSTING – a BILLION DOLLAR WORLDWIDE AIRLINE and they discriminate staff based on grade to give basic medical care!!!!! ALL staff should get the same medical benefits because healthy staff mean healthy company. Can you imagine she died and still they don’t change their policies. Only their managers and above can received good healthcare and only staff is covered if you pay FIRST and then wait MONTHS for reimbursement.DISGUSTINF EMIRATES – SHAME SHAME SHAME.

    Like

    • admindragana

      It’s so disappointing when I have no problems to believe that this really happened because it’s so like Emirates HQ. Arrogant cruelty became their brand. These sort of stories are exactly the reason why I made this blog and EK managers can hate me as much as they want, but even they have to admit how irrational and cruel all the stories on this blog sound when gathered like this, on one place.
      Please, do write more on this if you find out details. Sad news.

      Like

  • anonymousgirl

    Sorry they didn’t ask her as she was already unconscious – they asked the department what grade she was. I think her name was Monica and executive secretary to a svp

    Like

  • Watcher on the wall

    I’d love to know the manager’s name, I think you have to adopt a certain attitude to become cabin crew manager. The one cabin crew manager that didn’t really play the game and tried to help his crew was argentian Guillermo Gomez and rumours are that he was fired for being too nice.
    That’s Emirates mentality.

    I once brought to my cabin crew manager at the time about the swapping system not working. Seems simple but it was highly frustrating when the company has a system in place that doesn’t work for everybody. I never got any flights to my home country and I spent ONE YEAR trying to get on a flight to Australia to see my fiance back in the day and it was never legal for me to swap even though there were tones of crew trying to get ride of those flights. After she had adviced me herself to provide her with proof such as name of crew I was trying to swap with, date, flight number etc so she could take if further to the IT team to sort it, I started to record every single attempt of swap that failed and sent to her, she simply replied to me “the system is faulty sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t”. And the most frustrating part is that she used to be a cabin crew herself. Name is Elhran, Iranian main fleet purser in 2008/2009.

    When once flying with A380 Senior Flight Purser Aaron and having a career development chat with him he wrote an e-mail to Miss Samantha James (cabin crew manager) distorcing every single word I said. I was called in for an abusive chat suggesting that this job wasn’t for me and that I should maybe resign and go home to my family instead of having me under therapy.

    Your story sadly doesn’t surprise me, dear xxx crew, we have all being in the hands of senior management people that can’t be bother with the way the staff feels. No wonder they are always short of crew.

    Keep strong and do what is better for yourself, don’t be afraid, you’re FREE and this company can’t make you hide inside your internal cage, you’re better than that!

    Like

  • Watcher on the wall

    The story of Monica who passed away must come foward. Peace be upon her in the other side and I feel for her family’s pain. I wish though that her story will come foward. Emirates once again put policies, burocracy, ranks and grades above human life. They simply do not care about employees as human beings, they are mere numbers in a poor pay check and expected to work and produce as robots. The moto “not happy? Resign. There are lots of people who want your job” is real, I’ve been listening to that since recruitment day.

    The truth about Emirates Airline must become known. They have an abnormal number of fatalities and all goes undercover because no word about thei false empires comes to public. This blog and Emirates Iluminati are the only way now. Social media is finally starting to get the word out there and people need to know there are LIVES BEING LOST for mediocracy in Emirates. People struggling must also know there’s help and support out of there. I’m here, I’ll listen. If we all do small things more lives can be saved. The truth must come foward.

    Like

  • Jamal

    Erm sorry but “same innocent hopes and foolish dreams” Isn’t that an admission of your delusion from day one?
    “Previous work experience helped me decipher the false advertising, constant brainwashing, not to mention lying on open days and during training”, but after deciphering that you still stayed…
    “And was just left with her (my) own shortfalls”, probably a good starting point to look for why things went wrong.
    “So I lied”. That probably sums everything up, including your post!
    “It’s been a couple of months now. I never took the medication, and I haven’t seen a doctor since November.” Well if you were offered help and you didn’t take it, how can it be anyone else fault?

    Like

    • Hey

      What do you mean by “you still stayed”?
      Of course she stayed, she just mooved to another country and started building new life, do you realy think that people break down and give up on first obsticle?
      When things at work are starting to be wrong, you don’t immediatly pack up and moove back where you came from.
      I feel you are just opposing every statement published here.
      Things are not black and white. Even if you are against the whole idea (as you are constantly against everything on this blog), you still have to think and rethink every situation separately and make your judgement, before just opposing it.
      Grow up

      Like

  • Jimmy

    That earlier post (2/27 18:44) was a typical paid post by Emirates protectors. I see them every day, as the same thing happens on the HCT Sucks blog, which you should check out if you haven’t already. The post is in a nearly verbatim style, a checklist of (red herring) refutations.

    These issues at Emirates are terrible, and I commiserate. They are also quite common in other UAE organizations as well (including the universities HCT, Zayed and UAE U).

    What is needed is a full airing of all organizations that expats get sucked into, including this fine disclosure from staff working in Emirates.

    Please link up HCT Sucks and UAE U Watch, and hopefully those sites will do the same. There is power in cooperation.

    Nicely done Emirates people!

    Like

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations!!!

    donotflyemirates.org is on 2nd page if you Google “Emirates Airline News”

    Way to go!

    You did with TRUTH what they do with $$$

    Link up and speak out!

    Like

  • jericho

    @Jamal, are you Emirates’s ‘bastard’ trying to defend them by your awful disgusting mindset.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Rolf Dergham

    Hi,
    I was in Dubai, training as a FA for emirates years ago. I never understood why they picked me. Maybe it’s because they saw that I was malleable or something, I don’t know. But anyway, when I read the beginning of the article it struck a nerve with me and I immediately became anxious to get in touch and tell a bit of my story.
    Dubai is a very strange place. I still remember pakistani in their traditional attire sleeping on the floor of the airport, the day I got there. Then I was greeted by someone from “marhaba”. Everything felt quite fake, like a shell, with nothing inside, and a city built on desert sand.
    I also remember waking up shivering, not sure whether I should attribute this to the broken A/C thermostat (it got fixed days later), or because of the effect of this situation was having on my mental state.
    With this strange, hard to describe feelings, comes a good feeling and these memories are like two-sided coins, good or bad depending on the side you’re looking at.
    Anyway, within 1 or two weeks, I was meeting one of my early trainers and he was asking me “what’s wrong? what’s wrong? your grades are great, but what is it?” and I’m not sure what he was talking about either. Did he mean that day I skipped shaving? Or the first day, when I thought it would be a good idea to leave my cabin bag at home and carry my notebook by hand? Or some other ridiculous thing nobody ever warned me about. I was full of good intentions.
    This went on until they asked me to resign 1 day before my graduation, as my roster was already posted. I was asked to write my own resignation, go home for at least 6 months, write a letter saying what I had “learned”, and then (the training manager promised me), apply again, he would personally make sure that I would be hired again.
    I was nice and somehow naive. Naive is not the right word. I was just trying to be nice and professional and though these people would be doing the same.
    But that somehow didn’t fly with me. Why would they send me back home? After telling us how much they spend on us, and telling us repeatedly how lucky we are to be picked among thousands. What business, or other sense it would make to do this? Even if it was true, even if they weren’t just trying to fool me into signing my own resignation, I was not interested anymore of working for such a company. In fact I’m afraid this bad experience scarred me and still turns me away from “big corporations with big names” to this day. I did not sign the resignation. What followed is lies and threats (I will be blacklisted, etc.) and I had to call Dubai authorities to make sure that this normally does not happen, and that I indeed am legally entitles to 1 month stay in Dubai, after being fired, of which I took total advantage. My flatmate also made sure to represent the company in that he made sure that I was feeling unwelcome and uneasy in my own home. I guess I’m not exactly the type of person they were looking form.
    Maybe I was already depressed in Dubai (likely even before getting there) but when I got home, that’s when I really got depressed, and felt like there was something wrong with me.
    Anyway, it does put a new light on that story. I never really understood, I guess when you say that they try to break you and scare you, it all makes more sense. Thank you. Yet I don’t think that’s all there is to it, I just think that I am more equipped to understand, or maybe just made a step towards that.
    Together, we’re stronger.
    I didn’t want to be a tool in such a heartless system, among such worthless people. It broke my heart to leave Dubai but once the genie was out of the box (and I like to set them free), I would not have wanted it in any another way.
    Now if I could get some justice.

    Like

    • Watcher on the wall

      Shocking but doesn’t surprise me. You can’t see yourself what was possibly wrong with you. I mean they hired you ffs!!!!! And suddenly for no apparent reason they think you’re not their style or whatsoever and try to make you resing. TO MAKE YOU RESIGN. That is Emirate’s way, they always come with that little sweet chat of “maybe this job isn’t for you, maybe you should go home” – it’s inflicting guilty on you so you quit on your own account and they play “I’m innocent of this” card.
      I wouldn’t go back either, as you said ” together we’re stronger” and we don’t need to work for someone who wants to own your mind even.

      Like

  • Gena

    I love this blog for the intention to help people. Gob bless you for that! The thing is that I have an open day soon with the emirates and it has always been my dream to work there as an stewardess. I intentionally googled for the negative view with this work so I dont go there thinking its going to be all paradise and glamour. I understand that Saudi Arabia is very conservative especially compared to where Im living (Sweden). Right now Im confused and Im not sure anymore if its worth the try. I know that its just an open day and I will probably not even get accepted but still. What do you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

  • EK Management Gangster

    Gena, please go. Ask them ten questions as follows:

    Is EK subject to UAE Labour Law if there are any disputes.
    Ask about the attrition rate.
    Ask if it is true that sick crew have to go to HQ to certify themselves sick
    Is the donotflyemirates blog true
    Are you forced to terminate a pregnancy
    Are the working hours increasing without increased basic
    Do you have to study and do work related stuff when you are off
    Do you get warning letters for being sick
    Do Managers bully crew
    Do you publish employee surveys?

    Please come back here and tell us the answers.

    All the best

    Like

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