I’m far from the only aviation blogger that occasionally shares internal leaked information that airlines might not necessarily want in the public domain. But it’s perhaps worth explaining why I do this – because, contrary to the opinion of some, it’s not because I want to drag an airline through the mud.
Becoming a flight attendant was one of the best decisions I ever made. I really do love the job and I created Paddle Your Own Kanoo to help other people achieve their dream as well. Yet airlines sometimes make decisions that can have a negative effect on the working lives of cabin crew – I soon realised I could use this platform to help keep the industry fair, encourage equality and push for greater diversity.
When I receive insider information I have to consider three things:
- Is it potentially in the public interest?
- Is there no risk of someone being hurt by sharing the information?
- Is the information more likely than not to be true?
If the answer to all three of those questions is ‘Yes’ then I’ll invariably decide that it is worth sharing whatever information I’ve received. In the case of rumours, I’ll make it abuntantly clear that it’s just that. And using my knowledge of the industry, I’ll try to add context and present both sides of the story.
Shining a spotlight on these decisions can have a really positive impact. One of the greatest successes I had was a story about an expat member of Qatar Airways cabin crew – she had resigned from the airline but the authorities had taken her passport and it was unclear when she would be allowed to leave Qatar.
Sharing her story attracted the attention of a delegation from the International Transport Workers Federation who happened to be in Doha investigating the rights of Qatar Airways cabin crew. Within 24-hours, the crew member had her passport returned and she was allowed to return home. A great result that may not have come about if the information hadn’t been put into the public domain.
In the last couple of months, a number of media outlets around the world picked up on an internal uniform and grooming policy that had been implemented by Norwegian. The policy seemed regressive so I also decided to share this information – thankfully, the feedback that Norwegian received soon resulted in a big change in the rules that promoted equality and fairness.
I don’t for one second think that sharing this information has a major influence on decision making but I do hope that it encourages debate, raises awareness and allows cabin crew from around the world make their voices heard. It’s all too easy to fall into the narrative that being cabin crew is glamorous – we know that isn’t the case and sometimes it has to be said.
That being said, I don’t always share information that comes my way. Sometimes an internal issue is best handled without public attention or publicity – it’s a difficult call to make but I hope that I make the right decision.
It’s also worth pointing out, that this I don’t pay for insider information. It’s invariably shared with me because people want to shine a light on what’s happening, to spread the word and encourage debate. Occasionally, I hear from people that if someone “doesn’t like it, they should just leave” – for me, that’s just nonsensical. That kind of thinking just encourages a race to the bottom – you shouldn’t be ashamed of wanting to improve your working conditions.
And yes, the website has advertising but if you think I’m getting rich off the back of it, then you’d be very wrong. Paddle Your Own Kanoo is a labour of love and I hope it’s a resource that can be a positive influence in the aviation industry.