One of the great things about the working lives of cabin crew is that not one month is the same. Typically, cabin crew find out their rosters for the next month with only a couple of weeks notice – that can make life interesting although it does have it’s downsides. Sometimes, the roster is exactly what you wanted but let’s be honest, more often than not it can be a big disappointment.
Horrible destinations, minimum rest layovers, endless standby duties and quick turnarounds are a headache that no one wants to see on their roster. Most airlines use sophisticated computer systems to create rosters with little human input – flight attendants at American Airlines apparently hate a new algorithm that builds their rosters because it’s so effective at squeezing out as much work out of crew as possible with little rest between flights.
But occasionally human staff do have to get involved and cabin crew who build relationships with scheduling department staffers can benefit massively from these friendships. That’s true of pretty much every airline – it’s rarely spoken about and difficult to prove but most cabin crew know that getting the perfect roster is very much a case of knowing the right people.
So, an allegation of shenanigans in Emirates’ cabin crew scheduling department isn’t all that surprising but the extent to which it went has caused a big ruckus at the Dubai-based airline. According to an anonymous source within the airline, the situation has got so out of hand that when the carrier’s internal security team recently got involved, over half of the department were fired immediately.
The source describes the rostering department as having “basically imploded” and says “people were taking money from staff for favourable rosters, selling leave, giving leave to friends”. Shockingly, the source also alleges that some crew were “using sexual favors to be kept on light rosters”.
And it doesn’t sound like the investigation is even complete yet. Internal communications have been monitored by investigators and emails scoured – yet more staff are expected to be caught up in the investigation with the prospect of further dismissals. The corruption went so far that some staff are said to have pocketed thousands of dollars out of the scheme.
Sadly, this kind of alleged behaviour isn’t limited to Emirates – rather, it probably goes to show that the airline has invested quite a bit of time and effort into putting an end to it. And you can understand why; allegedly, rostering issues are the #1 grievance cited at exit interviews for both cabin and flight crew leaving the company.