Ryanair Crew Reportedly Forced To Sleep On Airport Floor Overnight

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Ryanair has some unique conditions for their cabin crew. I understand one of them is that they never overnight at any destination (i.e. they always return to their home base each day they fly), because it is cheaper for the airline to avoid paying for any hotels.

If this is true, then where delays or cancellations force crew to have to spend the night at a hotel somewhere, understandably Ryanair is not well equipped to organize such hotels.

The BBC is reporting that Ryanair crew who were based in Porto, Portugal were due to operate a flight from Malaga, Spain, back to Porto one recent evening. Tropical Storm Leslie was hitting Portugal that evening and the flight was cancelled.

Understandably, hotels were difficult to come by in the area given so many passengers were stranded by the flights and it was a national holiday in Spain that day.

Here’s where the story becomes a bit confusing, based on who’s telling it. Ryanair said that there were no hotels available, while the crew are saying that Ryanair did not try very hard to find them a hotel (even outside of town), so they were forced to spend the evening at the airport.

Ryanair’s Portuguese crew union has said officially:

The 24 crew members were there since (1:30 a.m.) until 06:00 (local time) without access to food, drinks and even a place to sit down, as there were only 8 seats available for the 24 crew.

Here is a photo of the crew at Malaga Airport:

Ryanair Chief Operating Officer Peter Bellew (who you might remember used to lead Malaysia Airlines), confirmed the crew were forced to spend the evening at the airport but said this was only because there were no hotel rooms available, and that they were moved to the ‘VIP Lounge’ where there was food, drinks and more comfortable seating/couches for them to rest.

Ryanair has also said the above photo is staged, and the crew paxed home the next morning (not operating the flights).

Bottom line

I find it interesting the massive difference in how cabin crew around the world are treated, and this largely depends on how big and powerful their unions are. I cannot imagine mainline cabin crew for US or Australian airlines ever even sleeping in an airport lounge overnight, let alone being pictured sleeping on the floor.

I tend to think the above photo is staged — if I was ever forced to sleep on the ground with my coworkers, there is no way I would lie that close to them. You can see from the photo that there is space around them, so I’m not sure why they are almost touching each other.

It would undoubtedly be awful to have to sleep in the airport, especially for crew who have been working all day. I do feel for these cabin crew in these situations, and could understand if they made the photo look a bit worse than it actually was to try and initiate better working conditions. Ryanair should be more proactive in managing these situations when they arise and looking after their own staff.

Do you think Ryanair crew actually slept on the floor like the picture suggests?

  1. Of course there’s hotel rooms in Malaga in late October.

    I’ve personally done this for easyJet too – however as we didn’t hate the company we just toughed it out.

    It’s the BS from the company about no hotel rooms available that has led to this publicity.

  2. @James great article!

    Just an idea for another article(s), i think it would be useful to many OMAAT readers to write a layover guide for major European cities given your experience traveling extensively through Europe.
    Perhaps it could be a weekly installment that includes transit info and some of your favorite sites. Then readers could comment with their own advice/recommendations.

  3. Wow, all these ignorant people saying it is staged. And their logic is impeccable!
    Well, for someone who has never slept on the floor.

    They are clustered around the desks because you want to protect your head. You don’t want it in the open so where people might accidentally kick it. You want something there. That is why they are sleeping together.
    You really don’t care about sleeping next to people when sleeping on the ground, and if it is cold you actually do (but this is the airport, I presume not cold).

  4. Yes, my 1st thought is that the photo is staged. It may have taken a while before they were moved but i honestly doubt they spent the night there.

    See how close they are lying to each and covering their faces so that one recognises them once the picture is posted on social media! They were ‘sleeping’ so close to each other so they could all fit on that one picture.
    I lost interest in the story as it’s clear that the truth is still out there. Where’s Mulder & Scully when you need them!

  5. Staged or not, unacceptable! There must be some type of government requirement for legal rest for a crew overnighting, there certainly is in the USA. Just wondering, if the company was of little help, could they not get their own accommodations then simply get reimbursed?

  6. @bbw: there are legal requirements to give hotels to crews in the USA? In what section of the CFR? There is a minimum rest time between flights (10 hours for pilots, 8 hours for cabin crew I believe) but nowhere in the CFR does it mandate the airlines to provide accomodation for their crew.

  7. So they staged the photo which makes me lose trust on their claims. Ryanair said because of storms and flights diverted there, all hotels were booked, so they moved their crew to a VIP lounge at later time. Who is telling the truth? The ones that staged the fake photo or the airlines with bad rep? I mean its not like crews are saints. Remember crews calling in sick em masse before. So it is not like only airline behave badly.

  8. So, so sorry Rui. I should have typed contractual requirements. And for the record sir, I am only assuming the major US airlines have some type of contractual rest provision in their contracts, but I’m sure you’ll point out if I’m wrong. You almost seem to support this, or in some way seem to imply this is okay. Do you work for Ryan Air mgmt? Staged or not, it is inconceivable to me to support this type of treatment of the employees of Ryan Air. Again, so very sorry sir!

  9. I work for Air Canada Rouge (Air Canada) as an fa and sometimes we have to sleep in a dirty public employee break room for airport employees which consists of 5 wood chairs and full power fluorescent lights that cannot be turned off. If people saw in which conditions we are treated sometimes its horrible… Those cheap fares passengers are paying with lowcost airlines come at a price… overworked crew with poor conditions that ultimately affect crew rest and alertness which translates to poor safety.

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