Oh My: Qantas A330 Crew Rest Controversy

Oh My: Qantas A330 Crew Rest Controversy

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Qantas is getting quite a bit of attention for the crew rest facilities that the carrier is offering on some ultra long haul flights…

Qantas’ crew rest facilities on 14 hour transpacific flight

With Australia having fully reopened to visitors, Qantas is ramping up its international service. This includes the airline resuming its route between Brisbane (BNE) and Los Angeles (LAX). In the past the airline operated this route with a Boeing 787-9. However, Qantas has had to shift around its fleet planning a bit, given that many of the carrier’s Airbus A380s are still grounded.

Some routes that used to be operated by the A380 are now operated by the 787-9, and that means there were no 787-9s available for this route. As a result, Qantas is “only” flying an Airbus A330-200 between Brisbane and Los Angeles.

The westbound portion of this 7,161-mile flight is blocked at 14hr20min, so this is quite a long flight. While this is within range of the A330, the major catch is that Qantas’ A330s don’t have crew rest facilities. Instead, some of the seats in the last few rows of economy are being blocked off for rest.

Pictures have just emerged of a recent flight where the crew decided to build a “blanket fort.” You can see that the crew draped blankets over the seats, which sure isn’t a very professional look.

So, what exactly happened here?

  • Qantas claims that there was a glitch on the flight whereby the lights wouldn’t turn off, so this was intended to make it a bit less bright for the crew (couldn’t eyeshades have accomplished that?); lights not turning off also seems really unpleasant for the rest of the crew
  • So while the blankets being draped like that is a one-off, it sounds like it’s standard to just see your crew stretched out across seats in economy trying to sleep
  • Qantas is apparently working on installing curtains on these planes around certain seats, so that it’s less awkward for both staff and passengers
Qantas is flying A330s between Brisbane and Los Angeles

How this situation is leading to further labor issues

There’s a bit more to the story, which I’d argue makes it even more interesting. Qantas uses New Zealand-based crews for the flight between Brisbane and Los Angeles. Why? Well, Qantas doesn’t exactly have great labor relations to begin with, at least not with the Australia-based cabin crew, which are represented by the Flight Attendants’ Association of Australia.

When Qantas restarted this route with an A330 rather than the 787, the Australian flight attendant union asked for an extra day of rest on both sides of the trip for crew members, given that these planes lack proper crew rest facilities. To me that doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request.

However, Qantas claimed that wasn’t viable, so the airline is instead using New Zealand-based crews (who work on a different contract) for this flight, so that’s what you see above. As Rachel Yangoyan, Qantas’ cabin crew manager, describes this situation:

“A small amount of flying is being done by New Zealand-based crew because the union was not prepared to support Australian-based crew working on longer routes with some of our A330 aircraft, including the Brisbane to Los Angeles route, on terms that we were able to agree to. We wanted to have our Australian-based crew do this flying, but without the union’s support for this to happen, we’ve instead had to use New Zealand-based crew on some of these flights.”

Bottom line

Qantas has resumed its Brisbane to Los Angeles route with an Airbus A330. At 7,000+ miles, this is one of the longest A330 flights in the world. Unfortunately Qantas doesn’t have proper crew rest facilities on these planes, so crews just have to sleep in economy seats.

While I imagine this isn’t ideal for crews, the situation went viral on a recent flight, where a glitch meant that lights couldn’t be turned off, and that caused crews to built blanket forts. If Qantas is going to keep flying A330s on flights this long, hopefully the airline can at least install some proper curtains around crew rest areas.

What do you make of this Qantas A330 crew rest situation?

Conversations (65)
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  1. Alison Baird Guest

    Lift your game Qantas! Sort out this issue and look after your staff. You are a well-respected national airline, not a third-world start-up do-it-yourself operation!

  2. Russell Elkins Guest

    Qantas have lost the plot. All they are worried about is the bottom line. Absolutely no customer service, in flight snacks a joke, what next vending machines, instead of flight attendants. You have your flights cancelled frequently, you can't ring rucustomer service, you are left on hold for up to 3hours. I will be using other airlines where possible, what a joke

  3. Brian Dempsey Guest

    Given what happened to QF72 a few years ago with the same type of aircraft ( uncommanded nose down causing many serious injuries) is this safe for their crew to be trying to sleep like this? There's no way you could get any proper sleep like that. I think it's clear Qantas believe it's their way or the highway. So unprofessional from what once was a great airline.

  4. Marc Guest

    It’s a disgrace for a national airline who are not cheap to treat their aircrew in this way! While the CEO sleeps in a comfortable bed, these people have to deliver a top service. Shame on you.

  5. Jack Roberts Guest

    How are they going to manage crew rest on the single isle A321zXLR?

  6. L Munnerley Guest

    Awful company to work for. QANTAS just don’t care about it’s people, they say they do but it’s all lip-speak. Crew are fatigued flying long haul with short rest periods.

    QANTAS needs to be renationalised and this pathetic group of (miss)management replaced.

  7. Ng Fook Meng Guest

    The regulations require a full 'flat' bed. Sleeping across rows of EY seats does not provide the level of rest required. The Cabin Crew Union shld invite the CEO to join them on the next flight out, and back in.

  8. Tony Guest

    Joyce has destroyed Qantas for his own gain. I have no interest in flying with Qantas ever again. Joyce is hated by staff......

    1. Marc Guest

      Well said.. many other better airlines to choose from.. bad treatment of flight crews and pilots..

    2. Andrew Guest

      I’ve moved all my business to Virgin Australia Bloody robbery what Qantas has done to Ground Crew now Flight Crew.. don’t forget the off shore call centre #boycottqantas

  9. RF Diamond

    The NZ crew needs a better contract.

  10. FlyerDon Guest

    Is the world going to come to an end if there isn’t a nonstop flight from LA to Brisbane? Until they have the right aircraft for the job why not make a stop enroute to change crews or connect passengers through another city?

  11. Jerry Briggs Guest

    Qantas crews never had a fatality.
    TE crews flew into the BASE of an 11,090 foot volcano

  12. Steven E Guest

    @Mark F please.. at least spell the name of the carrier correctly .. it's an acronym Queensland & Northern Territory Aerial Service QANTAS

  13. A Deans Guest

    This is NOT fair. The crew should have an area to rest. I was a passenger on the LAX to BNE flight this week and it was exhausting. The crew members are working. Wouldn't they be exhausted too?

  14. Big Guest

    Quantas is displaying a relentless pursuit to achieve and maintain market share . Commercial aviation is Paramount for all global travel .

  15. Andy G Guest

    This is corporate greed to the max! Pilots and cabin crew are all working together to provide a safe & comfortable environment for passengers! They couldn’t do that to the pilots, so it’s ok to do it to Cabin crew! More so, the Kiwis. Even without the lighting glitch, it is a disgrace for Qantas to even come up with the idea of crew lying in full view of passengers, to have a rest when they are next to the toilets and affected by general noise in the cabin!

  16. Ray Cutter Guest

    How disgusting for a multi $billion business to mistreat it's employers like this.!!!

  17. Ray Guest

    Their A330s are pre-HGW, right? I didn’t realise a “stock” A332 could even cover that distance. Wow

  18. Steve Woolcock Guest

    I do not work for Qantas nor am I an F/A. For NZ crews to fly BNE-LA they would have to arrive the day before and back to NZ the day after to comply with required rest periods. Aso have accomodation. So what is the difference in giving Australia crews those days off?

    1. Scudder Gold

      Probably just as a chest-thumping power move against the union.

    2. Superjet61 New Member

      That's too logical, Steve. But makes perfect sense.
      NZ based crew have abysmal contracts and can be turned around over and over once arriving back into an Australian port. When I was flying longhaul as a crew member, NZ crew could arrive back into Australia after say, a direct LAX SYD or DXB SYD. After a 24 hour rest break in a hotel and then expecting to operate home (3 hours) the following day,...

      That's too logical, Steve. But makes perfect sense.
      NZ based crew have abysmal contracts and can be turned around over and over once arriving back into an Australian port. When I was flying longhaul as a crew member, NZ crew could arrive back into Australia after say, a direct LAX SYD or DXB SYD. After a 24 hour rest break in a hotel and then expecting to operate home (3 hours) the following day, they would be turned around and sent off to Johannesburg. It was disgusting to see these poor NZ crew treated like this. I was a senior Cabin Manager for over 25 years with QF. I hung up my wings last year under a voluntary redundancy programme. I'm saddened at what Qantas is doing to it's dedicated front line staff everywhere.

  19. Scott Guest

    I just flew QF A380 from LAX to SYD in business and it was definitely rough around the edges. There were no amenity kits for business class, so we didn't have eyeshades or ear plugs. Food was a mess with most selections not available. Apparently they haven't re-started the normal map on the A380 so you can't track the flight's progress (I had no idea this was a feature that requires some kind of "setup")....

    I just flew QF A380 from LAX to SYD in business and it was definitely rough around the edges. There were no amenity kits for business class, so we didn't have eyeshades or ear plugs. Food was a mess with most selections not available. Apparently they haven't re-started the normal map on the A380 so you can't track the flight's progress (I had no idea this was a feature that requires some kind of "setup"). Service was abysmal -- flight attendants were apathetic and just totally checked out. My first time flying Qantas, and now probably my last.

  20. larry cocks Guest

    Its a bit sad for Qantas a great airline again attacking the crews and their union then ripping up the EBA Qantas has received government support during COVID in the Billions and the CEO has the gull to blame trallers for the kaos at airports there are staff ready to fly The replacement of long supportive bagage handlers to contacting outsourcing to another company and been found to be against fair work conditions Qantas was...

    Its a bit sad for Qantas a great airline again attacking the crews and their union then ripping up the EBA Qantas has received government support during COVID in the Billions and the CEO has the gull to blame trallers for the kaos at airports there are staff ready to fly The replacement of long supportive bagage handlers to contacting outsourcing to another company and been found to be against fair work conditions Qantas was a great airline but if it continues to treat its loyal staff with such disrespect it will loose customers

  21. Yah Guest

    Just SICK attitude by QF to it's Cabin Crew. The Government gave QF billions of $ in taxpayers money during the pandemic. Get the right equipment with proper rest area for Cabin Crew on this route asap. SHAME on the QF Board and Management for treating it's Cabin Crew this way. Just SHAME!!!

  22. JW Guest

    They could have easily wet leased some OW partner Cathay Pacific aircrafts for the route but chose not to do so. CX has many aircraft, notably with crew bunks sitting on the tarmac at HKG, easily capable of doing BNE-LAX, being held down by non scientific and archaic restrictions. Qantas being Qantas chose to be cheap and not do it.

  23. Iwrr Guest

    What do you expect from Joyce he's screwed everyone over pax and staff he's a selfish little prick

  24. SSS Guest

    Qantas CEO claimed that travelers were not “match fit” in explaining why there were 2-3 hour delays at domestic airports. Clearly it is Qantas that is not match fit… cut back on staff, not invested in fleet, not invested in operations. Only thing that seems to have gotten money is the CEO’s bonus!

    1. Andy Guest

      You’re in luck! QANTAS are currently recruiting long haul cabin crew. You could make your wish come true.

  25. Mark Guest

    Qantas are trying to get rid if it's Australian staff and replace them with cheaper foreign casuals , who can be paid much less.

  26. George Guest

    It really is an abysmal situation. They shouldn't even be using the 330s on such a long flight. Qantas is really looking like a slapdash outfit at the moment. No excuse.

  27. Notbad41 Guest

    Bring back the a380 and problem solved.

  28. John Shepherd Guest

    Ive been on non-Qantas flights where this also happens. As a passenger, I find it annoying if I happen to be seated in an area adjoining what turns out to be a staff sleeping area. It's an insult to both crew and passengers. Just another nail in the post-covid coffin of international travel and hospitality

    1. Duncan Guest

      Mark F
      It's Quantarse like many long time flyers enough is finally enough. The PR has completely lost touch with reality.

  29. Lynette Hussain Guest

    Absolutely shocking working conditions!! Shame on you Qantas! So much for supporting you Australian crew

  30. John Guest

    Ah, QANTAS. I'm not a fan of unions, especially the most high profile ones likes CFMEU and RTBU of New South Wales, who are nothing but thugs (in the most literal sense of the word). But no one should be surprised Joyce has shafted the unions because he's been shafting his customers ever since he came into power. Shareholder returns is ALL he thinks about, not his employees or pax. Don't believe me? Take a...

    Ah, QANTAS. I'm not a fan of unions, especially the most high profile ones likes CFMEU and RTBU of New South Wales, who are nothing but thugs (in the most literal sense of the word). But no one should be surprised Joyce has shafted the unions because he's been shafting his customers ever since he came into power. Shareholder returns is ALL he thinks about, not his employees or pax. Don't believe me? Take a QF flight and see how much you pay against what you get. Believe me, if you're going to pay a premium, you might as well fly a quality airline like SQ from Australia to Europe.

    1. jetjock64 Guest

      @John - Are you saying that ALL unions are run by thugs, and therefore, you're "not a fan of unions"? That's a pretty narrow-minded if you ask me. If it weren't for unions, especially in the travel industry, workers would be worse off than they are now. But you wouldn't care about that.

  31. Todd Guest

    Note that Qantas A380s are not grounded. Qantas hasn’t brought them back into service yet.

    1. Mike Guest

      Incorrect. I was on an A380 flight from Sydney to LAX just a couple of weeks ago. In hindsight wish they were grounded. My flight was delayed 5 hours for some issues, it’s food chillers ddi not work, so we were given snack bags instead of food and the general upkeep of the plane was definitely below what you’d expect on a long flight.

    2. platy Guest

      @ Todd

      I had a booking on an A380 in first for 28 March. The first class service was restarted the day before.

  32. Sam Guest

    Sounds quite chaotic. Chaos is never a good look for an airline - regardless of circumstances

  33. David Guest

    Wish I had a job that I could take a break and sleep for a few hours.

    1. Zain Guest

      Then go learn to become a flight attendant and quit whining. It's not the easy job you think it is.

    2. Scudder Guest

      If you have to be at work 16-18 hours continuously and *don’t* get a restful break you are a tool of late-stage capitalism.

  34. Ole Guest

    Couple of things
    1. Who gives a rat’s ass if there are blankets over the seats at the back of the plane. How does that impact my flying experience?
    2. 1 day in both directions is a bit too much. I think 1 day in Aus would have been sufficient. It’s not like they would have been working for 15 hrs straight. Don’t doctors/retail pharmacists work under worse stress and longer hours?

    1. Sarah Guest

      Doctors get paid accordingly for their hours. Cabin crew are foremost there for safety. To pay minimum wage for back of the clock flying across international boarders would be very fatiguing when you can't have a proper rest away from your work. A.J is expecting the most from his employees but is giving them less respect. All these people are now being outsource and are contractors all to line the pockets of share holders. Very un Australian.

  35. seanpodge New Member

    Surely not from Qantas and Joyce, the guy who decided to throw the toys out of the pram and shut down the airline for 24-48 hours, leaving passengers stranded all over the world just because he didn't want to negotiate with a union. So shocked. Extremely surprised.

  36. Mike C Member

    Qantas are developing a public image of having abysmal labour relations. Add that to a case that the competition commission is bringing against them for their refunds policies, and they have a PR problem. And a deserved one.

  37. AA FA Guest

    AA FAs used to do this on transatlantic flights on the 752. Only crew rest seats were curtained off, the third was a blanket fort. The worst part about it was the lack of airflow since the blanket blocks the overhead air vent… Talk about a sweaty 2 hour nap.

    Very worried about what the A321XLR crew rest facilities are going to look like.

  38. Endre Guest

    Qantas couldn’t have thought of installing curtains earlier? They are just sorry they got caught. I’m definitely not a union fan, but any airline should ensure their cabin/cockpit crews are being provided with proper crew rest areas.

  39. CAROLYNNE Guest

    The crew rest seats are not going to work. When I flew ages ago for Pan Am we did JFK- Tokyo 14 hours 45 minutes with crew rest seats with curtains drawn. You can't imagine how many times passengers tapped us on the shoulder to get a drink. Only when our Union negotiated to have a crew bunkroom was it tolerable. It's really hard on your legs to rest sitting down. Shame on Qantas.

  40. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Delta should start the route with its A330-200s (which do have underfloor crew rest cabins as do all DL long haul aircraft) or better yet their new A330-900s. DL flew the A330-200 from DTW to Nagoya and Beijing pre-pandemic. NGO now sees the A350 while PEK has been scheduled with the A330-900 but who knows when it will every actually start and the cabins on both are best in class.
    The A330-200 can operate...

    Delta should start the route with its A330-200s (which do have underfloor crew rest cabins as do all DL long haul aircraft) or better yet their new A330-900s. DL flew the A330-200 from DTW to Nagoya and Beijing pre-pandemic. NGO now sees the A350 while PEK has been scheduled with the A330-900 but who knows when it will every actually start and the cabins on both are best in class.
    The A330-200 can operate such long flights but there are much more economical aircraft whether Qantas has them or not

  41. Morgan Gold

    Need to get the A380's back

  42. Alec Guest

    Why aren't they blocking biz seats for them...

    1. ConcordeBoy Gold

      They are.

      Flight crew gets a blocked single business seat. Cabin crew gets blocked rows of economy.

  43. Mark F Guest

    Quantas single-handedly justifying why Flight Crews need a union.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Or Qantas just single-handedly show unions are too demanding, those seats work just fine.

    2. Andy Guest

      Yes, they seem to work so darn well that they’ve received negative attention across multiple media outlets. Hopefully these crew members have shown just how effective these facilities are that upper level management choose a similar arrangement on their next long haul work trip and free up a seat in a premium cabin for a fare paying customer.

    3. Eskimo Guest

      @Andy

      Does it ever occur to you this is the 'union' behind all the publicity and staging those scene.

      I would do it if it gives me confirmed First Class seat.
      The do I really need it doesn't matter.

      Would you drive a car with a broken light to work few times if afterwards your 'union' will guarantee you a new company car.

      Optics, fake news, and propaganda.

    4. Andy Guest

      @ Eskimo

      Of course it occurs to me that it’s the union behind these photos. That doesn’t make it fake news. It’s clear that this “horizontal rest” arrangement was used. QANTAS confirmed as much. It’s not like the union have doctored photos of this arrangement when the flight attendants were actually soundly sleeping in a dedicated crew rest area that allowed adequate rest.

      However, the fact the union are behind this doesn’t change the fact...

      @ Eskimo

      Of course it occurs to me that it’s the union behind these photos. That doesn’t make it fake news. It’s clear that this “horizontal rest” arrangement was used. QANTAS confirmed as much. It’s not like the union have doctored photos of this arrangement when the flight attendants were actually soundly sleeping in a dedicated crew rest area that allowed adequate rest.

      However, the fact the union are behind this doesn’t change the fact that this arrangement is less than ideal from a rest perspective. While you might find sleeping across a row of economy class seats acceptable (and realistically who doesn’t when you luck out on a quiet flight), it’s obvious that this arrangement is not OK.

      What also occurs to me is that people who are completely anti-union (maybe you, maybe not) are just as unreasonable as people who are completely anti-management.

    5. Tom Guest

      Yes, they need union because they earn so much, they can waste some of that money earned :D

    6. Andy Guest

      Penny smart, pound foolish.

      I think most airlines crew can’t afford to not be in a union.

      It’s not like airline management have worked hard to establish relationships of mutual trust and fair remuneration.

    7. jetjock64 Guest

      @MARK F. - I believe they're talking about cabin crew, not flight crew. But you're definitely right about the union part. . .

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Mark F Guest

Quantas single-handedly justifying why Flight Crews need a union.

7
Mike C Member

Qantas are developing a public image of having abysmal labour relations. Add that to a case that the competition commission is bringing against them for their refunds policies, and they have a PR problem. And a deserved one.

4
seanpodge New Member

Surely not from Qantas and Joyce, the guy who decided to throw the toys out of the pram and shut down the airline for 24-48 hours, leaving passengers stranded all over the world just because he didn't want to negotiate with a union. So shocked. Extremely surprised.

3
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