Qantas Flight Attendants Forced To Make ‘Blanket Forts’ Around Passengers To Sleep
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Qantas cabin crew have spoken out about the conditions they have been subject to on flights. You can see flight attendants having to rest in makeshift 'blanket forts' in the clip below:
Staff members of Australia's flagship carrier airline have revealed they were forced to construct 'blanket forts' at the back of the cabin and sleep among passengers on a long-haul flight between Brisbane and Los Angeles.
Cabin crew have since questioned how safe it is and the airline has been slammed by the workers' union.
Pictures have revealed the airline's A330 plane cabin crew having to take to lying down on economy seats to catch some rest, only finding some privacy by putting up blankets over the top of the seat.
One employee told 9 News: "I was shocked, a lot of people were putting in reports questioning the safety. I feel like they hate us, I feel that they don't understand what the role of flight attendant is."
Workers' rights have subsequently been brought into question, with the situation having grown tense between the union and the airline, according to Flight Attendants Association of Australia representative Teri O'Toole.
To compensate crew for the lack of sleeping facilities onboard the A330 planes, the union has pushed for employees to be given an extra day of rest.
However, Australian crew members - 55 percent of whom are on reserve rosters - have since been left without work after Qantas decided to switch to its New Zealand employees.
According to O'Toole, New Zealand crews are working in similarly 'appalling' conditions.
She said: "We have an aircraft which doesn't have the facilities for crew rest. 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."
Qantas spokesperson Rachel Yangoyan pressed that the airline had wanted to use its Australian crew for the flight.
She continued: "We're really disappointed that the union were not able to support this flying.
"We look at the rest that they 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."
However, O'Toole reflected on the crew's conditions as being 'a disgrace'.
"The crew have tried to get some privacy by making a fort like little kids out of blankets to give themselves privacy.
"It's not appropriate rest in the workplace. It's not appropriate rest for anyone."
Yangoyan concluded by stating the issue was being addressed by the airline.
In the next six weeks, staff of the A330 planes should receive new wrap-around curtains.
She resolved: "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."
Qantas has since shared images of what the updated crew rest will look like, stressing the crew rest area covered in blankets was an isolated event on 14 April 'due to an issue with the lighting on board not dimming in that part of the aircraft'.
Yangoyan said: "It's really important to note that what you've seen currently is actually not what the long term solution will be.
"What they will have in installed in around six weeks is a full curtain that wraps around that lie-flat rest area.
"But in the interim, whilst we've been operating without that curtain, we have changed the timing of those flights so that are operating during the day so that our crew don't need as much sleep time as they would typically need if we were to operate these flights during the evening."
Yangoyan concluded: "We've also looked at some additional rest that we're giving these crew in Los Angeles and also when they return home.
"Once we get that curtain in place, we're really confident that this will be a private area with a lie flat bed, where our crew really will be able to get some adequate rest on these longer duties."
Qantas also noted how the increase in international flights over the forthcoming months should result in 'all of [its] Australian-based crews' seeing 'a significant increase in flying by the middle of the year'.