Qantas flight attendants forced to make ‘blanket forts’ among passengers to sleep

‘I feel like they hate us, I feel that they don’t understand what the role of flight attendant is,’ said one staffer

Lucy Thackray
Friday 22 April 2022 11:39
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Qantas crew sleep in 'blanket forts' on planes without sleeper cabins

Qantas cabin crew say they are being forced to construct “blanket forts” at the back of plane cabins in order to get some sleep on some aircraft.

The airline’s A330 planes are not equipped with the usual staff rest compartments for long-haul flights, meaning crew routinely have to curl up on rows of passenger seats - with some questioning the safety of the arrangement.

Anonymous Qantas employees shared pictures of airline blankets draped over seats at the back of the cabin with Australia’s9News, with one saying of their employer: “I feel like they hate us, I feel that they don’t understand what the role of flight attendant is.”

“I was shocked, a lot of people were putting in reports questioning the safety," said one Qantas employee who didn’t want to be named.

Teri O’Toole, the federal secretary of the Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA) called the situation “simply appalling”.

She said negotiations between staff and employers had turned sour - alleging that when Australian crew members had requested a rest day between long-haul flights to compensate for the A330’s lack of facilities, the airline had hired New Zealand staff in their place.

“We have an aircraft which doesn’t have the facilities for crew rest,” she told reporters. “It’s never been used for flights 14 hours and above.

“We tried to make a deal with the company to give crew a day either side to rest and they said no.

“They went out and said we’ll give this work to New Zealand who don’t have the same restrictions surrounding rest that our Australian-based crew do."

“The crew have tried to get some privacy by making a fort like little kids out of blankets to give themselves privacy, which is just a disgrace," she added.

“It’s not appropriate rest in the workplace. It’s not appropriate rest for anyone."

A Qantas representative, Rachel Yangoyan, said the airline was “really disappointed that the union were not able to support this flying”.

”We look at the rest that [flight attendants] already get pre-, during and after the flight in LA, we assess that and ultimately that told us what we’re providing is sufficient and adequately addressing the fatigue need.”

She added that sleeping quarters were being addressed, with plans for a pull-around curtain to be added towards the back of cabins.

"Once we get that curtain in place we’re confident this will be a really private area with a lie-flat bed where our crew can get adequate rest,"said Ms Yangoyan.

The Independent has approached Qantas for comment.

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