When A Flight Attendant Is Nice To Passengers But Rude To Crew

While I’m a big fan of the “big three” Gulf carriers, in general my preference is for Emirates and Etihad over Qatar. Emirates and Etihad crews are hit-or-miss, though I’ve had some fantastic service experience on both airlines. Most importantly, the airlines treat their cabin crew quite well, so I don’t really feel “guilty” when flying with them.

Meanwhile I find that Qatar crews generally lack personality, which is probably largely a function of the working conditions at the airline. It’s only recently that they’ve begun allowing cabin crew to marry and become pregnant, though employees can still get fired over the most minor things. I think that’s why so many Qatar employees are scared to show any personality. That’s one of the reasons I’ve asked in the past whether it’s even “ethical” to fly such an airline.

On a recent Qatar Airways flight I noticed something rather interesting. I’m used to Qatar Airways crews being friendly to passengers, though typically in a very forced way. Still, I find the crews generally stick together, given that they’re subjected to the same working conditions.

Qatar-Airways-777

For that matter, I think we find that to be the case at almost all airlines. Airline staff will almost always back other airline staff, even when they’re in the wrong. That’s partly why I found the situation on a recent Qatar Airways flight to be so strange.

I was seated in row one on the plane, so the cabin service manager was in the jumpseat across from me, maybe 6-8 feet away. There was another jumpseat across from her, and then on the other side of the cabin was a third jumpseat, across from the other aisle.

Qatar-Airways-777-Business-Class-06

As we’re taxiing to the runway, the cabin service manager on this flight was sitting in her jumpseat and started yelling at one of the other business class crew — “sit now now now now, hurry hurry hurry, we are all waiting on you.” You could hear the flight attendant frantically closing all the cabinets and securing everything for takeoff, and she was clearly going as quickly as she could. The cabin service manager rolled her eyes at the flight attendant in the jumpseat across from her, and then yelled even louder “sit now, you need to sit now.” Mind you, we weren’t even at the runway at this point. Eventually the other flight attendant got in her jumpseat, with plastic gloves still on.

I thought it was rather unprofessional she’d address her colleague that way, let alone so loud and in front of other passengers. But I didn’t think twice of it.

Fast forward to landing. We touched down, and the flight attendant in the far jumpseat (who was being yelled at earlier) made the post-landing announcement. English wasn’t her first language (just as it wasn’t the first language of any other crew members), so at a few points she stumbled a bit on words and had some minor pronunciation errors. I thought the PA was perfectly good.

Meanwhile the cabin service manager and the flight attendant sitting across from her looked at each other every time the poor lady made a mistake, and laughed audibly.

I was a bit taken aback. Not only that they’d be so rude to their colleague, but even more so that they’d do this in plain sight of passengers.

Over the years I’ve learned to just shut up for the most part, though as we deplaned I had to force myself not to say anything. I was very tempted to say something along the lines of “it’s sort of disappointing you’d treat your colleague that way, let alone in front of passengers.” But I restrained myself…

Comments

  1. Hm, it’s weird that you prefer Etihad/Emirates over Qatar crews.
    Of course, you got much more experience than i do, but i just flew 4 legs in QR business and 2 legs in EY business, and Qatar crew was just amazing on ALL flights, and i mean amazing. The most professional and at the same time sincere crew i’ve ever experienced. While Etihad hasn’t impressed me at all. Much less friendly than LH in economy 🙂

  2. If it really was a big deal to you then you’d have said something there and then rather than just writing a blog post to make you feel better for doing nothing.

  3. Coming from somebody who regularly comments on the word schedule in trlip reports, I have to ask myself whether these filler articles are really genuine or whether they are from the Daily Mail school of journalism?

  4. Is it “ethical” to fly any airline owned by the royalty of countries where women, gays, and “guest workers” are treated so poorly? If you don’t like Qatar, it’s hard to see how the other Arab carriers are any less dilemma inducing.

  5. The best option would have been to say something to the Customer Service Director (CSD), which is what the inflight supervisors are called at QR. She probably did not realize that any customers could see what she was doing. The second best option would have been to keep it to yourself and not write about it in a public forum. You have now exposed the crew to disciplinary action.

  6. You could have shared with the cabin manager how you apologize and make restitution to persons you have hurt and offended with words and deeds in your past. Purchase something from the on-board duty-free cart and give to the affected FA with an encouraging note handwritten by you. Preach by example bro.

  7. I do about 20 long haul legs in business on QR each year and can confidently say I never experienced this scenario. Sounds like they had a beef with each other. Nonetheless, this was a poor show from this particular service manager and does not reflect the entire QR crew.

  8. It seems like a classic example of work place bullying, where the more experience staff bullies the junior one. I would personally walk up to the cabin service manager and ask her to be more constructive and encouraging to the new FA who’s learning her job. Though I highly doubt anti-bullying is a concept exists in middle east culture, but big corporation like Qatar Airway have the responsibility in preventing such behavior at work place.

  9. I’ve been flying around for about 60k miles over the last two months and had 4 flights on Qatar. I found the crews to be hit or miss, even within the flights. I had a great experience with the crew at the onboard bar but the attendant assigned to my area, was lacking in almost every aspect. I did think the crews assigned to flights to the US and London tended to be better. But either way, that was no way to treat a colleague.

  10. May I ask what nationalities (or part of the world) the crew where?

    Being a Doha resident I reckon I could have a good guess where the bullies and bullied are from

  11. @Lucky

    You bring up this ethical dilemma a few times and tend to be more critical of QR when in reality there isn’t that much difference between QR and EK and EY when it comes to staff treatment. As someone who works in EY with friends at both EK and QR what goes on behind the scenes is very similar with EK being the better employer if you are cabin crew or work in the office (not so much if you are a pilot).

    QR in the past had a lot of issues with staff treatment but that started changing more recently. For one the CEO micro manages a lot less. For a few years now the technical department has had big improvements and pay, packages and working conditions are better in that department in QR than EY. The pilots have also seen big improvements since two years, they have the best package in cash and benefit terms of the ME3 and also have the fastest career progression. In general they also have the most relaxed working patterns, especially compared to EK where pilots are generally worked more and have less rest than on QR. QR did some big improvements in the staff travel benefits where now even nominated friends of staff are entitled to staff travel benefits.

    The cabin crew at QR have only started seeing improvements more recently and their pay package is also very competitive. QR still has a lot of their crew from the 90s and from the early 2000s, they have a lot of cabin crew who sign up family members such as daughters or cousins, do you think if it was so terrible someone would recruit their own relatives? My main issue with QR compared to EY is the pregnancy and marriage restrictions has now been removed. They are both very strict with appearance and behaviour and they are both just as likely to terminate you for a mistake. Within EY we have a arbitrary firings, lots of strict rules, you can be fired or reprimanded for small things. From the ME3 only EK is much better when it comes to this.

    EY is very good at surpressing this dissent as they use lawyers to contact websites that have negative information, for example the pilot forum PPRUNE doesn’t allow pilots to discuss EY due to a legal settlement after a spate of negative comments on the forum from staff. One big difference between EY and QR on the cabin crew side is that the EY management in charge of cabin crew tend to be more western and at least the impression with us Asians is that they stand up for their own more while being tougher on us, in QR its the opposite where there is a minority of western cabin crew and most management is Asian. Guess which disgruntled fired cabin crew you will more likely here from in the press in Europe or the US a fired Irish crew for example or a fired Thai crew?

    I wanted to open your eyes to this, if you have moral concerns about QR then you should probably have the same for the others. At least update your information that things at QR at least these days are not as bad as you may think or are lead to believe and things in EK/EY are not as rosy as you might think. For pilots QR is probably the best employer of the ME3 these days, for technicians its a tie between EK/QR and for cabin crew EK definitely then EY with QR being the last option though after the recent changes the difference between EY and QR is not that much.

  12. “Over the years I’ve learned to just shut up for the most part,”

    A twenty-first century American ethic perfectly expressed. We’re finally cowed enough to know that the squeaky wheel is the one that gets de-boarded and put on the no-fly list.

  13. As they say don’t get me started.
    Oh no you have so here I go.
    Living here in Dubai and flying often I do get to use various airlines and also hear all that is happening.
    Qatar is by far the worst.
    Rarely they employ English as a 1st language attendant,hence the announcements are difficult.
    Filipinos and Koreans were the norm for a long time but they never leave so they put a block on them as not to have too many.
    The average time frame for cabin crew to stay with EK is 7 months!
    Yes this is a fact. Even with 20,000 of them there is a huge turnover.
    Pilots are presently have enormous departures as well.
    Fly Dubai had 70 pilots resign in 1 day!
    Not all roses for EK .
    Both EY and EK are currently employing a lot of Romanians and Eastern Europeans cabin crew.
    Their problem is upper management . Indians or locals which have no idea.
    Back to the cabin crew , the worst service I had was with Alitalia .
    We were on a flight from Milan to AUH and there were 8 people in Business.
    We also has 8 crew where EY has 40 passengers and 4 crew.
    It was hard to get any service from them and when I finally did it was horrible.
    Not as bad as Jet Blue! But then I didn’t pay the same amount.
    The Middle East does work their crew extremely hard as they do both long and short haul flights each month with min rest.
    The Asian crew can’t think outside the box as we say.
    This is what the manual says is their replies.
    No unions and such a diverse collection of Nationalities makes it interesting.

  14. I understand you didn’t want to confront the offender out of concern that the situation might have been escalated , fearing the reprisal for the employee being belittled, perhaps you could have then offered the poor woman a few kind words. Or complimented her service to the supervisor, as a way to undermine the nastiness you witnessed, sometimes it’s best to kill them with kindness.

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