Last September, British Airways was forced to launch an urgent investigation after a Snapchat video of what appeared to be one of the airline’s flight attendants going into an expletive-laden tirade made headlines around the world. It seemed too crazy to be made up – surely, none of BA’s cabin crew could possibly be so vulgar?
But how wrong we were. In a matter of days, the culprit had been identified as a serving flight attendant for the airline and promptly fired. Airline bosses were said to be less than impressed with the former cabin crew member’s portrayal of Nigerian people which verged on the racist and was most definitely sexually explicit in nature.
We’re led to believe the flight attendant claimed she was set up – encouraged to say the controversial comments in a series of Snapchat videos which were then recorded and leaked to media organisations. Whether it was intended to just be harmless fun or a reflection of how she really treats passengers, her lack of judgment sealed the young lady’s fate.
But while this incident was bad (and made worse by the very public nature of the video being leaked on YouTube), we understand it’s certainly not an isolated case of British Airways flight attendants behaving badly. Sources have told us that Snapchat-gate is just one example of BA cabin crew going too far.
We know that in December, just several months after the first infamous incident, British Airways was forced to fire four more flight attendants for inappropriate behaviour. That followed a drunken and raucous party at a hotel used by the airline’s cabin crew in Nairobi, Kenya.
Off-duty flight attendants were said to have held a wild party around the hotel’s swimming pool – resulting in property being damaged and one member of cabin crew even breaking their arm. Hotel bosses were said to be so disgusted, they threatened to end the airline’s contract unless immediate action was taken.
And that’s not the only hotel that has said it would sooner lose a lucrative airline contract rather than host British Airways cabin crew.
In Johannesburg, a cabin crew member allegedly plucked an expensive Koi Karp from the hotel pond and threw it into a swimming pool where it died. Again, the incident was linked to drunkeness and of course, British Airways yet again had to fire the staff member involved.
And in Singapore, the airline has now apparently run out of chances with the hotel it once held a contract with. Sources tell us that hotel management were furious when a female crew member allegedly ran through the hotel’s lobby in just her underwear as part of a drunken challenge. There are even allegations the same crew member urinated in public.
According to The Times newspaper, all of these incidents are linked to the airline’s Mixed Fleet cabin crew – these are newer flight attendants who have been hired on a different contract than previous generations of crew since 2010.
Airline bosses have told cabin crew that drunken antics are “inappropriate” and jeapodise “the relationship with some of our hotel partners”.
It’s an incredibly unfortunate situation for British Airways to find itself in. Flight attendants are brand amabassadors for the airline they work for at all times – especially when they are ‘downroute’.
And while some observers will say drunken hotel antics have always been part and parcel of cabin crew life, it certainly seems like BA is dealing with more than its fair share of problems at the moment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.