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Tag Archives: Fatigue

The glamorous life of Emirates cabin crew: sleeping on the airport floor

This is an e-mail I’ve got a few days ago. I will let you draw the conclusion about safety, EK’s organizational culture and fatigue. I will also let you wonder where the pilot and co-pilot slept that night.

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Hello,

Thank you for your blog. Emiarets is a terrible companyy to work for.
Please, do not display my email address or my name…..
This is a picture of Emirates Airline Crew sleeping on the floor. The JFK airport was closed and the company asked us to leave our hotel and go to the airport anyway and wait on the airbridge until they open the airport…..
The fact was that the airport was closed because of the heavy snow and we had to wait on the floor for several hours, more than 6hours…… We could not even use the
emirates lounge at the jfk airport. They told us to wait at the airbridge.
.
.
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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


Confession of one depressed Emirates cabin crew

One female Emirates cabin crew committed suicide a few days ago in Emirates accommodation. Out of respect towards her and her family we will not write about her case and the reasons why she did it, but here is a story of another former cabin crew which perfectly explains how depressed EK cabin crew are and how nobody takes proper care of them except few individuals from medical profession who often don’t follow company’s rules in order to help their patients. 
This girl was being forced to resign due to her condition. This is her confession on how she went through that and how she fought her way through cruel and inhumane system. 

Hi Dragana,

I’ll try to make it not too long but detailed enough for people to know what happens behind Emirate’s “welfare”.
First of all, Emirates employees don’t have access to a private health insurance being subdue to company’s clinic and their General Practicioners. If you need to see a specialist you have to go to the one they refer you to, wether you like it or not. If it’s not working and you’d like to see another doctor, well, good luck with that.

I joined Emirates when I was 21 and I had little on my pockets but was full of dreams and determination. Not even 1 year in the company I started to feel down. The things that annoyed me a little in the beginning started to add up quickly and became major issues. I also soon found out that an abnormal number of the staff is severely depressed and/or alcoholic. With the lifestyle provided by the poor work conditions in this airline it is really not surprising.

I started to feel empty and sad the whole time and tired, really tired. I was oversleeping and overeating and my whole body system was going downhill and I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. I was in a sleeping-and-going-to-work cycle, I spent almost my entire spare time sleeping and sometimes I even took sleeping tablet merely cuz I didn’t see the point in staying up. I went to see a doctor at EK clinic and he immediatly recognized that I was depressed and suggested me to see a shrink. I was prescribed antidepressants which takes you out of the roster for a while – long enough to break any changes of an upgrade because you acquire too many sick days. It was a long going back and forth to the clinc, to the shrink: change of medication, sick leave, theraphy.
At this point I don’t think it is necessary to detail how I felt. Depression is too easy to judge but only who has been through it knows what it feels like.

It is important to stress that nothing goes confidential in the airline and that suicide is ilegal in the country. When you join Emirates you are to state if you had depression before. I ticked the box that said I didn’t. In fact I have never been diagnosed with depression even though I did mention to my shrink that I have felt similar to that before. Of course he mentioned that in his report and of course Emirates knew about it.
I must say this very one doctor that left EK clinic for feeling his hand were tied the whole time – and therefore I will preserve his identification – called me and warned me that they would push me to resign, he asked me to come to the clinic before opening hours because, of course, all appointments were taken. Early in the morning he showed me an e-mail he received from the doctor responsible for the clinic saying that I lied about having depression and that they don’t take cabin crew with history of depression. They were trying to get me to confess that I lied about a pre-existing condition and by doing so they could terminate my contract.
Dr A (as I’ll refer to him from now on) was a kind soul, a good doctor and he couldn’t diggest Emirate’s policy of neglecting proper medical care to its employees. He wrote to the doctor atesting that I have not being diagnosed with depression before and that I was seing a psychiatrist that said I was responding to the treatment. Not being thoroughly convinced, the doctor in charge demanded that I saw an aviation psychiatrist in Abu Dhabi and I would have to pay the consultation from own pocket and so the transportation. I am ever so grateful to Miss Mirjana who work for the Employee Assistance Program – she used to be cabin crew and she knew what it is likely; mostly likely she knew what she could report from what you told her. Mirjana drove me with her own car without taking any money from me all the way to Abu Dhabi and back, she accompanied me to the doctor and she offered me therapy sessions with her which definetly have helped. If I haven’t came across her and Doctor A I honestly don’t think I would have managed to overcome Emirates trying to force me to resign.

There is much about depression that goes unmentioned in this company. The reason I concluded they don’t accept people with history of depression is because they know the already huge number of depressive crew who are put out of the roster, who resign or who suicide and they can’t afford to have people with feelings and problems, they want robots or happy-sappy 21 years young who believe it is a great place to be. They undercover all story of suicide. I would like to see statistics and facts about Emirates employees who have been through depression and the ones who lost the battle against it while in Emirates.

One of the times I discussed possible treatments after a few pills that didn’t result in positive effetcs I was seriously recommended to undergo ECT and that Emirates would not pay for it and mostly likely not keep me in the job. I won’t go into the controversials of ECT, I just want to highlight I was recommended to go through it on my own: the company that was suposed to spounsor me was leaving me to my own lucky not caring about my conditions to afford something like that, to find another job, wether I could go back to where I come from or not  and nonethless for my health.

I do give Dragana the permission and encouragement to make my story public. “Truth is a daughter of time” and Emirates Airline labour practices must be known.

Crew's email.

Crew’s email.


Emirates cabin crew fired for complaining to GCAA, ACAA and IATA?

According to this e-mail from one senior staff, Emirates Airline cabin crew complained to GCAA, ACAA and IATA on illegal layover length, fatigue and breach of safety rules and they got fired due to “inappropriate behavour”. Apparently, according to Emirates Airline managers, it’s inappropriate to contact international regulative organizations responsible for aviation safety and rules to complain on violation of those rules.

This is the e-mail that I have got today:

Hi Dragana,

i hope you are doing alright..
it took me sometime to find the courage to send this email to be honest im a bit afraid of loosing my job.
anyhow, here are some new stuff been going
i have xxx godforsaken flight to JFK during the snow storm where they had only 10 hours layover…. 4 of the crew xxx decided to make an official complaint to GCAA, ACAA & IATA , the e-mail was successfully sent , read and replied to… however, apparently emirates has it own people everywhere, somehow Mr. Terry received a copy of that e-mail ????

and as you know these days he is operating ” OPEN FORUM ” same one as Anoma did which led to your termination …. needless to say  its not going well as only about 400 crews decided to show up which made him say its an “isolated problem” ( because half of them are on leave and the other are operating, which he didn’t think of ) the point is he had a meeting with those 4 crews who sent the e-mail to GCAA and guess what happened after a long lecture about work ethics and bragging about how emirates is feeding them and their families , it ended up by 2 of them being terminated due ” inappropriate behavior “   how ironic… apparently this is the reason to termainte staff when you don’t have a reason, as for the other 2 crews since they didn’t use their company email to send the complaint they were blessed by a final written warning and … wait for it ….. leave balance forfeiting … swap freeze …. no access to company e-mail… WOOOW now the manager will send them email which they cant ready and they will be terminated ….
disregarding how unethical and a severe breach of company/uae labor laws which emirates is anyhow above it, they had to accept it because of their financial problems and their knowledge that they can’t get a better or same level job back in their countries … how sad…but true..
as we speak there is another open forum is going and i’ll send you the outcome when i get it.

as for EKAS
after Mr. walter promised to take EKAS to the new level… i can’t deny he did some improvements (THANKS TO YOU AND YOUR BLOG)
Mr. walter had several meetings with MASs and ASMs on how to make EKAS better ( for the company )
and the out come was ( as per some ASMs whom im close friend with )
1- all staff with more than 60 hours sickness are not entitled for grade.

2- verbal warning to be issued for staff who don’t comply with uniform and image standards…

3- sick reporting is now 5 hours before duty, any call after that will not be documented and staff will be marked absent ( great now i have to wake up 6 hours before my duty to see if im fit to work or not)

4- no more LOCAL LEAVES authorized by ASMs or MASs.
and yet more to come… im just waiting for walter to publish them ( i doubt it )

and hey .. do you remember that glorious day for emirates on 19 Dec where they had a record of passengers numbers ?
here is something for you about it, Mr. walter was so generous and gave all staffs who were working that day 25AED meal voucher BUT.. no time for the staff to eat, i was doing morning shift that day, and i witnessed staff who had 8-9 tasks on 10 hours shift, with a maximum break of 15 minutes ( time between gate to another) and when someone called RTC they bluntly informed the staff there is no break in your contract …..
staff were asked to perform all kind of tasks including remote departures/arrivals SAT and boarding.. and due to lack of staff that day many flights were without enough staff and some without Gate supervisors and i know some of the staff who had no GS on their flights got warnings because the flight was delayed….
how would you expect a staff who only got trained for boarding (BAMBAM) in 2 weeks to do a job that requires intensive system experience..
i can’t recall allllllll the incidents that happened with details , but you have my word, your blog will be my tongue.
eveyone (who is not a hypocrite or an ass kisser) is very proud of you and what you have achieved for us.

thank you for everything.

Email from a senior Emirates staff

Email from a senior Emirates staff


The real reason why Emirates Airline plans to employ 11.000 new staff

Emirates Airline (EK) is all about marketing and perfect image but if you scratch beneath the surface you can find a lot of mistreatment, sufferings, sad or horror employees’ stories and cruel exploitation of expatriates coming to work with this Airline.

What makes the current EK’s human resources crisis unbearable is the fact that Emirates Airline is above any labour law. It means that managers can and will do whatever they want and nobody can stop them.

When you join this company you will sign a contract. This contract is going to be violated many times (you will work more than you agreed and your benefits will be gradually taken away from you) and there is absolutely no one to protect you, your contract or your rights. I’ve checked this fact myself as I went through the whole labour system in Dubai only to get this response from a Government official: “You can complain but it’s useless”. I even went to His Highness Ahmed Bin Saeed AlMaktoum the Chairman of Emirates Airline couple of times but never actually met him as his staff doesn’t allow visits.

20% of all Emirates cabin crew resigned last year.

20% of all Emirates cabin crew resigned last year.

Up to the last couple of months EK managers felt strong enough to rule their company with fear and punishment knowing that almost nothing of it will go out to public as they have a habit of punishing staff who write negative facts about them online. This is the reason why they have threatened me with a prison as well. Writing this blog has been a huge challenge for me. I get a lot of “please don’t stop writing” e-mails so I continue to write as this blog became one of the few voices of disempowered Emirates Airline employees.

Besides this blog there are two other websites:

1. Update from Tom – a blog of former Senior Vice President  of Emirates Group IT department. The seriousness of this managerial title gives this blog the highest relevance among all of the virtual places to get to know the truth about EK management as it is written by the managerial insider.

2. Emirates Illuminati – a website of a huge group of Emirates employees – organized resistance against managerial oppresion, who are not to be mistaken for a union, since unions are forbidden in UAE. This website is blocked in UAE.

A question about bad working conditions in Emirates Airline on a professional pilots network.

A question about bad working conditions in Emirates Airline on a professional pilots network.

You will be led to believe that Emirates Airline is a modern and multicultural company which treats its employees like gold. You will be told at your trainings that “we are the best in the world, so if we have chosen you to work for us it means you are the best as well”. Once you actually start working you will feel all the incapability and greediness of your managers on your back. You will be ruthlessly treated as a number, forced to be passengers’ and managers’ servant and if you don’t obey in any way you will be bullied, harassed and forced to resign.

It is very hard to describe poisonous and negative atmosphere which is waiting for you once you begin with your work. You will be reported for a small mistake or for no reason at all, back-stabbed, disrespected and humiliated. And if you are young and inexperienced, you are likely to lose your self-confidence and a sense of a personal value.

The point of this masquerade is to keep attracting new people to replace old, resigned, terminated, sick and unmotivated ones. EK management is very aware of the process it’s just that they are lying to the public and instead telling them the truth – that they desperately need 11.000 new staff to replace those who massively resigned in the couple of last months, they will tell you that they are “expanding their business and fleet” and that they are “becoming more powerful and successful”. Besides lying to potential new joiners they are also lying to themselves as the company is seriously shaken from the inside.

But if you read this article, which aims to attract new group of unsuspecting future staff, you can conclude that it reveals more than Emirates Airline managers want to reveal.

The National Article. Emirates Airline employs 11.000 new staff. http://www.thenational.ae/business/aviation/hiring-spree-to-boost-emirates-airline-staff

The National Article. Emirates Airline employs 11.000 new staff.
http://www.thenational.ae/business/aviation/hiring-spree-to-boost-emirates-airline-staff

For example:

if there are 20 new aircrafts, and one aircraft needs 80 cabin crew for service, Emirates Airline needs only 1600 new cabin crew this year (20×80). So why this article announces around 5500 new cabin crew this year? It’s 3900 crew more than they need (5500-1600)!

There is around 19.000 cabin crew in Emirates Airline currently. 3900 is simply a number of crew that they have lost last year and that they have to replace urgently. In percentages it is 20% of all cabin crew. So, one fifth of cabin crew resigned last year! Does anyone, besides EK managers, really think that 20% of lost cabin crew is a success, especially if we take into consideration that 130 pilots resigned in the past three months?

A simple calculation from PPRUNE member

A simple calculation from PPRUNE member

You can follow up on this story about 11.000 new employees here and you can read more on Emirates working conditions here.

Good luck with your new employment.

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How safe is it to fly with Emirates – testimony of one cabin crew

After many recent plane crashes safe flying has become a regular topic in media. Not without a reason.

This is just a first article in series of articles about illegal and safety endangering practices in Emirates Airline (EK). Since the safety problem in EK is so big, it requires many inputs from cabin crew and pilots, which I am lucky to get on a regular basis so that I can make a full picture of safety deterioration in Emirates in past few years.

According to pilots and cabin crew, flying with Emirates Airline is less safe than it used to be. One could ask why is that? Answer is simple: greed, money and management’s incapability to deal with the growth of the company.

As usual, I have no intention to advise anyone not to work or not to fly with EK. Instead, my intention is to leave a trace about the fact that employees of Emirates Airline were worried about their safety and the safety of the passengers even before any serious accident occurred (and let’s hope it will never occur).

It is very easy to blame the flight crew for errors in flying the plane. Media will always assume that crew was well rested, well paid and motivated to work. Especially when they write about Emirates Airline, because there is a false public image about working conditions in EK.

Well, EK flight crew is exhausted with short layovers, unpaid extra working hours, working more than legal flying hours, lack of leave and vacation, inability to report sick or fatigued without being suspected of lying about it and new questionable procedures of authorities which make easier for all of this to become legal.

These articles have the purpose to warn on flight crew’s exhaustion and incapability to fly the planes safely due to fatigue, lack of motivation and weariness issues.

First input about onboard safety is coming from cabin crew. Service delivery department in Emirates Airline is in chaos right now. Thousands of cabin crew are resigning and there is not enough crew to operate the flights, so some flights are delayed. At the same time, management has no answer on this shortage of staff than to make more pressure and make it harder for crew to report sick, forcing them to fly even if they are fatigued and to make them do couple of turnovers per day or have illegally short layovers. The same thing is happening with EK pilots.

The next two quotations are from persons who sent me their inputs on cabin crew’s opinion on onboard safety.

Concerned email

Concerned email

“I just wanted to tell you about something I heard today…. There was a flight today that departed at 5pm to NY and Cuz of delays caused by bad weather the crew will have 10 hours layover after God knows how many hours flight… And u know that those 10 hours will become 7 or even less Cuz of the time lost with transportation from airport to hotel, etc. I heard from a “friend of a friend” that some are planning to send a complain to  GCAA.
I wish u could investigate more and post it on your blog.
I’m glad I could help with some info.”

I have checked this info with EK cabin crew and this is what I’ve got:

Input from cabin crew about illegal layover.

Input from cabin crew about illegal layover.

“Dear Dragana,

I do know actually. The layover was 15 hrs, whereas in JFK the journey from the airport to the hotel on an normal snow-free day takes approx 1 hour and we get the wake up call the next day 3, 5 hrs before departure. A simple calculation will show, that the crew had 10 hours rest after nearly 15 hour flight (17 hour duty). I will include a screenshot of trip details of the particular flight for you.

Complaining to GCAA makes no sense as we all know that H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoom is the chairman of Emirates Group AND a chairman and board member of GCAA. This flight is most probably “legal”, because the official rest time is over 11 hours.

The only option I see, is to give these pieces of information to international media or to question this legality from FAA. Although the rumor says, EK paid a fine for this action…

I personally find it outrageously irresponsible from EK to endanger and play around with the safety of 500 passengers and 30 crew, only to prove their ability to disrespect and ignore all the advices and forecasts from the US.

On this day some 1,400 commercial flights were canceled, according to FlightAware.com. American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and US Airways were among many airlines that announced winter-weather waivers. Most will allow passengers flying to or through the Northeast to make one itinerary change without paying a change fee. The companies  carrying out these 1’400 flights found the necessary assets in their budgets in order to comply with safe practices in aviation. But EK is willing to possibly loose 530 people,  to operate with totally fatigued crew who cannot be held responsible for any unsafe decision, who’s reaction to possible hazards like fire, smoke or disruptive passenger are at their lowest, just so that they won’t loose money and wouldn’t have to deal with a problem –  where to book these 500 people if all the flight to JFK are always oversold?

Would love to hear managements comment on that!”

Layover duration in the EK system.

Layover duration in the EK system.

It is such a shame that morally corrupted managers managed to damage such a big company so much in such a short period of time. Or as one pilot said it on one website for professional pilots:

“Perhaps someone can provide some examples of situations where pushing things – people or machines – to the absolute limit, had a happy ending?”

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