Emirates Adds Bathroom Attendants To All Flights

Filed Under: Emirates

And no, I’m not talking about the kind in fancy steakhouses that offer you cologne and hand you a paper towel after you wash your hands, hoping you’re drunk enough to tip them a $20.

Yesterday I wrote about what kind of service changes we should expect in Emirates first class as the airline resumes regularly scheduled flights. Today Emirates has announced additional changes they’ll be making, and there’s one feature in particular that all passengers will likely appreciate.

Emirates has a lot of spare shower attendants

Emirates is known for having shower suites on A380s, which are probably the coolest thing you’ll find on any commercial aircraft. Each Emirates A380 with first class has two of these shower suites.

Emirates A380 shower suite


Emirates A380 shower suite

Emirates has a dedicated Cabin Service Attendant (CSA) — often referred to as a shower attendant — on every A380 flight long enough to offer a shower. These CSAs aren’t actually flight attendants, and don’t have the typical “flying license” that other crew members have:

  • They don’t have to go through the same training as flight attendants
  • They technically have to be seated when the seatbelt sign is on
  • They are paid significantly less than Emirates flight attendants
  • It used to be that there were two shower attendants on ultra long haul flights (they’ve reduced that to one), and when that was the case, shower attendants shared rooms on layovers

Well, these CSAs won’t have anything to do for quite a while:

  • All of Emirates’ A380s are grounded, and will be for a while, as the airline is exclusively using 777s for now
  • Even when Emirates resumes A380 service, they won’t be offering showers to first class passengers

Rather than laying off CSAs or just keeping them grounded, Emirates is getting creative.

Emirates adds bathroom attendants to flights

As Emirates resumes flights today, each flight will feature a CSA. Since there are no showers for the CSAs to oversee, they will instead ensure that lavatories are cleaned at intervals of 45 minutes throughout the flight.

This should be reassuring to many passengers. Most studies show that airplane cabins aren’t as unsafe as some might assume, and few cases have been traced back to airplanes:

  • Airlines have improved cleaning protocols between flights
  • Airplanes have air filters that are generally safer than most other indoor spaces
  • You’re typically not sitting face-to-face with others on planes
  • Mandatory face masks on planes provide an added layer of protection

One major concern is lavatories, given that it can be hard to clean them during the flight, and they’re heavily used, making the surfaces risky.

Emirates is addressing that concern with this latest initiative.

Emirates lavatories will be cleaned every 45 minutes

Don’t expect other airlines to follow

Emirates is in the unique position to make this happen because they already had CSAs who would clean showers and even bathrooms in certain intervals. They’re essentially just shifting their responsibilities in a way that reflects the times.

However, it’s unlikely we’ll see similar initiatives at other airlines:

  • At unionized airlines with contracts about duties of flight attendants, having to clean the lavatory is typically not part of the job description, and don’t expect that to change
  • At some airlines we do see flight attendants sometimes refresh the lavatory every once in a while, but in general I’d expect that to decrease, given the risk for crew, and also the interaction they have with passengers

Expect US airline lavatories to still look like this

Bottom line

Emirates will be cleaning all lavatories on flights in intervals of 45 minutes. That’s a fantastic initiative that adds an extra layover of safety for passengers. I’m sure the CSAs also appreciate that they’re getting work again, which means many of them will not only keep their jobs, but will get paid more than their (very low) base pay.

How much do you value airlines frequently cleaning lavatories during this pandemic?

Comments
  1. When you say Bathroom Attendants, me thinks…..

    Cool, somebody to open the door, turn on the faucet, pump me soap, and hand me my towel.
    And you can fit that person in a tiny lavatory?
    What if I need to take a dump, we are going to stare awkwardly?
    Will they have mints gums colognes and cigarettes?

    And then I realize it’s just a fancy word for a clearer. There goes Richard Branson’s dream of a fancy club vibe at 30k feet.

  2. This is a very clever initiative on Emirates’ part. We haven’t heard much out of either EK or EY in relation to redundancies other than that they are conducting an internal review of all departments, but this is indeed a clever way to retain staff with a niche set of responsibilities. Will be curious to see if the other of the ME3 follow.

  3. I’m very happy Emirates is doing this. I highly doubt their planes are full right now so hopefully economy pax will be able to practice social distancing.
    For ultra-longhaul flights, I value this highly. For short flights, I’ll try to control what I eat and drink and avoid using public restrooms when possible.

  4. @Lucky

    I see you added some clarification remarks, but you are right there should be a tip jars too.

  5. Not that it will matter. Emirates will be out of business within 6 months. Just read a report that 50% of hotels, restaurants and shops in Dubai will be out of business within a month. They have NO MONEY to support the country, let alone an airlines.

    Bye Bye Emirates and like Eithad too. If they do survive, the will be no larger than RAM or Kenya Airways.

  6. US airlines should do this since the FAs often claim that they are there primarily for your safety (commonly used as an excuse). Well, step up to the plate, FA.

  7. Sq toilets are clean consistently even b4 covid. Goes to show nobody cares about value add services until a major event and when other airlines start to do it then it becomes like their so great.

    Aw come on give credit to the folks who have been doing it since day one and not the others for only waiting till a pandemic to take action

  8. Call me crazy (and most flight attendants will probably call me worse), but I’d expect to see the high-end Asian airlines (including both major Japanese carriers) start having their FAs “freshen up” (that is, wipe down and clean) the lavs on a frequent basis – especially in premium cabins. Many already do this to a limited extent, some do it more regularly. I predict it becomes more frequent, more thorough, and that these airlines will start highlighting it in their marketing (in subtle ways with indirect language that gets the message across without getting too graphic). Look at what Delta and JetBlue are doing blocking middle seats. Other airlines are currently in the process of figuring out what to do, they’re going to notice that customers want to feel reassured and safe – duh! They all make oblique references to “high touch” surfaces being disinfected…well, there are some pretty “high touch” things in that loo. Makes perfect sense that smart airlines will take this small step (which doesn’t cost them that much) to make customers feel more safe.

  9. sunviking82 –

    With the $800 to $875 billion in the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund to draw upon, I think that Emirates and Etihad will be just fine in the near term (unless they merge, in which case they are just fine but one airline).

  10. People need to start getting into the habit of putting the seat cover down before flushing, which greatly reduces the amount of particles that enter the air and thus other parts of the restroom upon flushing.

  11. I think the bathroom attendant will be *very* busy. How many lavatories are there on an Emirates A380? Consider how long it takes just to walk from front to rear on an A380 on each level, then a minute or two in each lavatory — that’s a lot of movement and work to do each 45 minutes, no?

  12. “And no, I’m not talking about the kind in fancy steakhouses that offer you cologne and hand you a paper towel after you wash your hands, hoping you’re drunk enough to tip them a $20.”

    That is extremely degrading. They may not be able to avoid the job they do but I doubt they just wait for some drunk person to hand them $20. You should feel privileged not to be in that position yourself and hope you never have to be doing that someday. And I don’t mean the one handing the $20.

  13. @Marco

    How is that statement degrading?

    You expect everyone to thank you for your service?

    Or you are suggesting it’s degrading to thank people who go fight other peoples’ civil war to secretly control oil using WMD or terrorism as an excuse, because guess what that person isn’t defending our country, they are merely pawn in a political game.

  14. What’s going to be on the flights to the UK as Emirates don’t use CSA’s on those flights as the UK does not let them in to the country through the same way as FA’s?

  15. This is typical Emirates skimping on their obligations.
    They have cut out chauffeur drive and closed lounges, but cabin staff are being picked up by Emirates cars.
    The only reason I fly first class on Emirates is because of showers on the 380, chauffeur drive and lounge facilities.
    They have been chipping away at business and first class facilities for some time and in a cheapskate manner, cheapening their upper class services.
    Emirates are not alone, many other airlines are using this covid-19 pandemic to cut costs at the expense of the paying customer.
    No wonder Sir Tim has resigned.

  16. @sunviking82

    It saddened me to read your comments, which seemed to delight in the prospect of thousands of staff and businesses in the UAE being in jeopardy as a result of the pandemic…..

    #bekind

  17. @JBR @Sassy

    Please see the news report below:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/21/coronavirus-dubai-70percent-of-companies-expect-to-close-in-six-months.html

    Also the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Sovereign Investment Fund ( officially named Mubadala) has had its own coffers likely to be depleted as a result of lower oil prices and ill advised investments in SoftBank’s Vision Fund and other investments that have soured. It remains to be seen for how long and to what extent will Abu Dhabi back stop Dubai as the amount of the back stop this time is likely to be significantly larger than the $20 billion or so in 2009.

    Just saying!

  18. How is that statement degrading?

    I know it’s not Ben’s nature, not that I know Ben personally but reducing some bathroom attendant to someone who is some money hungry person,hoping to feed on drunken person’s money . Even if they do that job it’s a job….No need to degrade them to some vultures.

    And I wasn’t even talking about the Emirates staff to clean the washrooms. They would probably be like the Shower attendants on the A380.

  19. @Marco

    So you are saying its degrading because
    1. money hungry
    2. feed on drunken person’s money

    Under your logic it seems every bar owner and alcohol producers (brewery, vineyards, etc) are degrading?

    Did you ever consider it is actually you who is degrading, thinking you are superior to those with such occupation and trying to be compassionate to make you feel good. You brought this whole issue up first.

  20. It’s safe to assume that certain engineers at Toto, Ltd. in Fukuoka, Japan are woking hard to invent the self-cleaning toilets. Then, Toto & Mitsubishi Heavy Industry could work on inventing self-cleaning airliner lavatories.

  21. As a 40 year flight attendant with a major USA carrier I can tell you our first responsibility is safety. Numerous times we have discovered lavs that someone found it ‘necessary’ to smear human waste and/or puke over the walls, mirror, sink, floor, etc. Those lavs are locked shut for the duration of the flight. The pilots radio company requesting a cleaning team member with sanitizing and deep-cleaning supplies and equipment to meet the flight to handle the situation and we document the incident. We are not equipped with supplies and protective gear for handling such issues, especially since prior to Covid-19 we had to return to serving food and beverages.

    When we can obtain access to a lav to verify paper products are in the dispensers we strive to do so at least once per hour. We take turns checking lavs, it isn’t assigned to any particular crew member.
    We also gather paper products and items that some people feel the need to throw on the floor or in the sink including dirty diapers and partially filled puke bags. It does seem strange when a passenger leaving a lav advises ‘there’s no paper products in there’ the next person in line often refuses to wait 45-60 seconds for us to place paper towels and/or bathroom tissue on the counter. Of course we would later load it into the dispensers but we try to act quickly whenever there’s a line for the lavs. (The fact that on many aircraft the paper products are actually there – paper towels in the labeled dispenser but they cannot find them or towels and tissue in an adjacent cabinet – all that being beside the point.)

    If airplane lavs are not up to acceptable standards for some people they are certainly welcome to purchase a ticket for their nanny.

  22. “Airplanes have air filters that are generally safer than most other indoor spaces”
    This is absolutely untrue.
    The outside air temperature at altitude is typically about minus 60C, so the cabin air is heated with engine bleed air which takes horsepower away from thrust, so the air change in the cabin is limited, and only 1/3rd of the air is removed and replaced on any single circulation. So 2/3rds of the air is recirculated, The filters are at the aft of the aircraft and are changed every thirty days, and are not designed to remove fine particles or viruses. Aircraft air is unhealthy, although acceptable under normal circumstances.

  23. This is unfairness from emirates towards their staff. Degrading CSA’s and using them as a toilet cleaners! Wouldn’t expect that kind of treatment to its employees from such a big company. They don’t even have the Flying License. How come it’s possible other countries are allowing this to happen? They should ban CSA with no license like UK did!

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