Emirates has finally responded to concerns that a flight attendant was suspended without pay after she was allegedly assaulted and sexually harassed by a disruptive passenger on a recent flight from Los Angeles to Dubai. The airline denied the flight attendant – a purser and 12-year veteran of the Dubai-based airline – had been suspended without pay and claimed it was offering the victim its full support.
As a recap, details of the incident first emerged in a Dubai courtroom on Sunday when the purser and another member of cabin crew gave evidence in the case against the 31-year-old suspect. It’s alleged the passenger became disruptive and verbally aggressive when he self-upgraded himself from Economy to Business Class and then into a First Class suite during the April 13 flight.
The purser claimed in court that the suspect threatened her and another flight attendant and at one point even physically groped her. A fellow member of cabin crew alleged that the man held up his fist at her in such a way that she feared he was going to strike out at her.
Giving testimony about the massive impact this incident has had on her, the purser told the court that she had been suspended without pay for a month while she awaited psychological evaluation by Emirates’ in-house medical team. She has since been pulled from flying as she has been deemed unfit to deal with passengers.
Emirates has since issued a short statement, claiming that’s not entirely true and denying the flight attendant was ever suspended without pay.
The statement appears to raise more questions than it answers – least not the fact that the airline seems to be suggesting that the crew member committed a serious criminal offence by lying to a court.
In reality, that’s probably not the case and likely just a misunderstanding. Wages for cabin crew come in three different ways:
- A basic flat-rate pay
- Flight pay
- and Ad Diem allowances
If the flight attendant was suspended from flying, then she would only have received the basic pay – however, many crew rely on flight pay and ad Diem allowances. This is what the crew most likely meant when she said she hadn’t been paid.
Emirates could do a far better job at explaining what support the flight attendant is receiving – at the very least, some clarification from the Emirates spokesperson is urgently needed.