The concept might seem alien to many but for commuting flight attendants, a ‘rent by the night’ bunk bed in a communal bedroom is how they manage to live between flights out of their base or ‘domicile’ without going broke paying for hotels or their own apartment.
The quality of these so-called ‘crash pads’ – so named because flights attendants use them to crash in for only short periods of time – can vary massively. Sometimes flight attendants are willing to give up comfort or even safety for cheaper rent.
Last week, the City of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department raided an illegal flight attendant crash pad in East Boston. The pad was actually a garage but it had been converted to house as many as 20 flights attendants in bunk beds spread across two bedrooms.
The converted garage also had a kitchen and two bedrooms but it was missing a fire escape and smoke detectors. The conversion had been done without authorisation and the space was found to be storing hazardous materials, city inspectors claim.
Some flight attendants, however, were willing to pay the $300 per month fee to rent a bed in this crash pad. It’s certainly a lot cheaper than other options like a local hotel.
At least one flight attendant who stayed at the pad did, however, object and made a complaint to the Fire Department about a broken smoke detector. A City of Boston Investigative & Enforcement Team visited the building and quickly condemned it.
“It’s completely illegal,” city inspector John Meaney told GBH news. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he continued.
“Worst case scenario, if you had everyone up there at one time, and there was a fire — it’d be a death trap.”
Local residents claim they had seen flight attendants using the space since 2014. “This unit was constructed illegally, stored hazardous material, missing smoke detectors and no 2nd means of egress,” the Inspectional Services Department wrote on their Twitter account.
Obviously, not all flight attendants are this bad but this does shine a light on the conditions some aircrew find themselves living in. Sometimes, it’s because they can’t afford to live close to their domicile, while others have noted that busy work schedules make crash pads the only viable option.
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.