UK Bans Emirates First Class Shower Attendants

Filed Under: Emirates

While this shouldn’t impact passengers much, it’s an interesting development nonetheless.

Emirates’ A380 Shower Attendants

Emirates is known for having shower suites on their A380s, which are probably the coolest thing you’ll find on any commercial aircraft. All three cabin A380s have two of these shower suites.

Emirates has a dedicated shower attendant on every A380 flight that is long enough to offer showers. The catch is that these attendants aren’t actually flight attendants, so they don’t have a flying license:

  • 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

Anyway, it looks like the UK is suddenly taking issue with Emirates’ use of shower attendants…

UK Bans Emirates Shower Attendants

Effective immediately, Emirates is no longer rostering shower attendants on UK flights (including to London, Manchester, and Glasgow). As Emirates describes it, they have been informed by UK Border Control that they have a “restriction with entry of non-licensed crew.”

Essentially airline crews have special visa privileges on account of being crew. However, since shower attendants technically aren’t crew and don’t have flying licenses they don’t benefit from that… or at least that’s what the UK has now decided.

Of course go figure Emirates has been flying to the UK with these shower attendants for 10 years, and it has only now become a problem.

Emirates is working on finding a solution. In the meantime, Emirates will be rostering an extra purser or first class crew on all UK flights, which sure seems like an expensive solution.

The extra crew will be responsible for handling the showers. The shower attendants also clean all the bathrooms throughout the plane between cleaning showers, though the extra purser or first class flight attendant won’t be responsible for that — rather the flight attendants in each cabin will be responsible for keeping bathrooms clean.

I’ll be curious to see how this plays out. I wonder if the UK will just accept this, if they’ll have to get special visas, or if this is the start of a bigger issue for Emirates’ non-licensed shower attendants.

  1. I cant see the bathrooms being as clean now as some flight attendants will probably not be that detail orientated when cleaning..

  2. @D From my observations, most FA of US-based airlines, if not all, will just lock the lavatory door if they find it’s too dirty… rather than clean it.

  3. If regulations have been in place for 10 years and were never followed, it tells you something about such regulations…

  4. I’m all for innovation, disruption, showers inflight and gold trimmed everything and I’m certainly in favour of (sutainable) caviar. But on this one, I support the UK government for enforcing the existing rules after giving Emirates a decade to get in line.

    The rules UK are enforcing arise from international treaties that level the competitive ground for airlines. I’d suspect governments the world over warned Emirates and that they are under pressure from other carriers to enforce the rules the others aren’t violating.

    My sympathy is with the shower attendants, who get less money cuz they do “untouchables” jobs, but get thrown under the bus now, when the Very Big Corporation’s luck runs out on their trick.

    Train ’em, pay ’em and give them ID cards.

  5. I think UK Border Force are upping their game in preparation for the B-thing that’s been in the news for the past 3 years. BA are having more and more random passport checks from European locations where you could previous go straight to security if HBO.

  6. Misplaced priorities? You know because Brexit and the potential for it to ruin your economy is not more worthy of your time to focus on. Not to mention figuring out how to handle the logistics of travel for Brexit.

  7. You can bet Lufthansa will hurry themselves to German regulators to ensure the same measure is put in place for Emirates’ A380 Hamburg & Munich flights. So I take it the only other airline with showers — Etihad — won’t be slapped with the same problem? Are Etihad’s shower attendants licensed or do they just use standard crew from the First cabin?

  8. Seems rather pointless. It isn’t a safety issue. And it isn’t causing any harm or being abused. There are much bigger problems to deal with and this isn’t causing any harm.

  9. Getting away for 10 years isn’t the issue here. It is why all of the sudden.
    Is it A) some political motivation against EK or UAE.
    B) some shower attendant overstay and never left UK.

  10. As the shower attendants are on the bottom of the hierarchy and receive very low wages, I imagine some of them from poor countries who can usually not get a UK visa have used this as a loophole to get into the UK and claim asylum or simply stay there. Now that the authorities have noticed, they are cracking down on this practice.

  11. What’s the old saying, something like “never attribute to malice what can be explained by simple ignorance”?

    Entirely possible UK immigration had just never noticed that the shower attendants didn’t have full FA credentials, meaning they wouldn’t fall under the labour category that lets licensed crew enter and leave the UK freely. Or they did, but considered the difference in work visa requirement a relatively low priority until now.

    I think the immigration issue coming up many moons ago when Hooters Air flew to Nassau – the “Hooters Girls” on the flights were not credentialed flight attendants. But between the Bahamas not getting that worked up about it and Hooters Air not being around that long, nothing came of it.

  12. @CraigTPA you’re quoting an adage known as Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”.

    Interesting take on the situation.

  13. Loving the posts above by people with single-digit IQs looking for something to be outraged about who didn’t even manage to read the article properly and are talking about health & safety.

  14. Stupid UK regulations. They d better send their authorities and work inspectors to close or check all the nails bars managed or used by smugglers to attract & lure poor Vietnamese immigrants risking their lives to go to the UK.
    That would be a real priority in terms of society rgulations.

  15. While timing and enforcement is odd, this is a good move by the UK, regardless of motivation. I believe this is yet a other tiny preview of Western countries finally enforcing laws, regulations that protects the worker.

    I’ve been very disgusted since many ME carriers, and others, have grown beyond their local market for nearly 2 decades. I’ve also been disappointed in the av community in their glowing reviews/praise of these airlines. It’s one thing to write about a positive experience, but they become complicit and condone not only the policy of the airline, but also have the country that OWNS them.

    Even more shameful, since many, including the author, would be imprisoned and worst, if they lived there and the powers that be decide one day to “crack” down, like Brunei.

    The occasional mention of their disagreement does not give them a free pass, but merely is a fake let to stand on so they can quote themselves when convenient.

    There is no need for flying maids/servants under disguise as “shower attendant”. That’s BS, and I simply refuse to fly any of them, or even visit any their countries.

    Where are people’s principals? We cannot all fix the world, but each one of us can make contribute and stand up in small way, that ultimately makes a difference.

  16. As a Brit, the UK Border Force and for the matter the Home Office which overseas it is a national embarrassment.

  17. As others have said, the likelihood is that either one of the shower attendants violated immigration law, and therefore tipped off Immigration, or Emirate’s was lying on the paperwork they had submitted to the UK government about the qualifications and duties of the shower attendant. The other potential reason is that Emirate’s reducing its staffing triggered a closer inspection of who the crew was, and when they were overstaffed above the regulations, they might have cared less.

  18. Kinda throws a wrench into the expansion plans when you can’t take advantage of labour laws to underpay your staff.

  19. CraigTPA, your comment to attempt some form of analogous remark of Hooters F/As not being credentialed and this article has zero merit and comparison. For one thing, 9-11-01 didn’t occur back then when Hooters tried their form of entertainment in the air. Second, f/as weren’t required to be credentialed with more lax and almost zero security issues compared to post 9-11-01. Anyone, namely females that can breathe and serve passengers food and drink qualified. My best guess was if they encountered a really spoiled rest room, they locked it and when landing the ground crew took care of it. If this was fitst class with only a single rest room then the junior f/a did the dirty work. There’s more to this story of supposedly ten years of lax oversight related to non credentialed bathroom attendants than is covered here……

  20. Fred what are you talking about? Hooters Air ran from 2003 to 2006. So yes 9/11 had occurred, and flight attendants being trained and credentialed existed prior to 9/11 regardless, as has always been the case. The training safety wise for FAs has always been the same, because they are the ones who evacuate and operate the vast bulk of emergency doors etc. if an incident were to occur.

  21. I can’t distinguish a flight attendant to a bathroom attendant in flight. They must also possess air crew license since their duty is performed solely in the air. This is a no brainier.

  22. I have to at least suspect that this is related to the UK Border Force shifting up a gear as it prepares for Brexit.

  23. FA licencing includes vetting, extensive background checks, fingerprinting and training. Letting unlicensed whomever hop into planes and in and out of foreign countries seems unwise.
    I also would not want an FA to clean the lavatory and then serve my food.

  24. Those CSA’s (Cabin Service Attendants) are definitely looked down on by the normal cabin crew hierarchy in my experiences flying EK First regularly, and often they only speak limited English. I have always found them very polite and diligent in their work, and see them go in after every person to the shower suites to tidy up, resulting in some of the cleanest toilets in the sky.
    A somewhat thankless job, but arguably adding more value to the pax experience than some of the other precious Galley Queens who sometimes see passengers as an annoyance. Saw an Eastern Euro FA recently berate a Flipino CSA in EK First when she was asked a question by a passenger but didn’t fully understand, so there is a definite pecking order which is a bit cringeworthy – but when the Senior Purser checked in on me later on I gave a bit of karma back with some feedback and burnt the rude FA…….
    EK crew still consistently better than many other carriers though, so I think just train up the CSA’s and give them a payrise, and it might also help other crew see (and treat) them as equals.

  25. Sean S, from Business Insider; A common misperception about Hooters Air was that the flight attendants on the flights were Hooters girls. Not exactly. In addition to the two Hooters girls, there were three FAA-certified flight attendants on every flight……We just did the safety procedures and stuff like that. Then we had two Hooters girls from different restaurants from the area that would do the trivia on the plane. But they had no training whatsoever. They were just there just for passenger fun…..Two Hooters Girls would get up during the flight and do trivia or little games or sing a song. I think they just sat in their seats the whole time until it was their five minutes to get up, and that was it. The rest of the time us flight attendants are working.
    I stand corrected – yes Hooters Air ran from ’03-’06.

  26. Once again we see petty government rules driving up costs and driving down service. And the airline will get blamed. It’s a great scam.

  27. Sir, ma’am—–_such flights are meant for the Rich & powerful only.common people like me can only dream, enjoy seeing such videos.thanks& God bless all of you

  28. As a Muslim, i would never fly Emirates or visit Dubai for their use of slave labor everywhere while the locals never lift a finger to do anything, rewarding these people is a big injustice… Please don’t support Emirates, Ettihad, Gulf Air…

  29. As a Muslim, i would never fly Emirates or visit Dubai for their use of slave labor everywhere …. Including these planes and that’s how they can afford to offer these services….while the locals Emiratis never lift a finger to do anything, rewarding these people is a big injustice… Please don’t support Emirates, Ettihad, Gulf Air… unless you support slave labor. Thank you

  30. So, will Turkish Airlines be next – I am not sure their on-board cooks are all licensed cabin crew – at least the ones I have spoken to always just had one local night at their destination, rather than 2 for the cockpit and cabin crew?

  31. Get real EVERYONE

    So we sack all restroom attendants (at Disneyworld, mainline stations, worldwide, airports, etc) and get the more highly paid security staff to do the cleaning job while they are on their rounds.

    Lets also sack all the restaurant cleaners, and get the waiters and servers to clean toilet bowls, and infected washbasins and then serve your food. The restaurant would not survive.

    Lets sack the house cleaners and tell the chef to clean the toilets

    There will always be a need for staff to perform cleaning duties, as above and an aircraft is no exception. I have always thought that utilising these shower maids to clean the toilets aircraft wide – bear in mind there are 16 toilets in addition to the 2 shower rooms – maintains a high degree of cleanliness, better than most western carriers, and I endorse the AA comment, which is not the only airline where cabin crew would lock off a dirty toilet rather than clean it.

    Solutions to the immigration problem.
    1. Carry duplicate maids, and the operating crew dead heads back to base in crew bunks. (OK I hear the screams from the workers rights groups)
    2. Maids given standard tourist visa, but would not get priority at immigration, so duty time of crew could be extended
    3. UK to grant “crew status” for the puposes only of immigration. Problem solved
    4. As regards overstay, I have never heard of this. Why would anyone with a good job (better paid than ground based cleaners) with travel worldwide, want to jump ship. I really feel this is highly unlikely. they arrived in UAE for work, and have obtained it, plus!
    5. Should the unlikely happen and a shower maid does not board the return leg of the trip, immigration would immiediately know about this by a passport check, so would the purser on the flight, whose responsibility would be to report to the authorities that they are a crew member short. In that case EK would be so heaviliy fined for serious irresponsibility, that the even is unlikely to repeat itself.
    6. In the case of 5. above, bear in mind the stringent control under which EK crew work and the purser’s job would be in jeopardy should he not report the event. His or her career would end forthwith.

    So, please let’s have a little more realism about how the world works, for better or for worse.

    I support clean toilets on board and food served without the risk of infection.

  32. Notwithstanding my earlier comments,

    I agree, that should have been my number 7.
    The training would only need to be evacuation skills, not oxygen routines or fire procedures, and they would only ever be required to be at a particular door, and not learn all positions.

    So, yes, I’m sure a one week reduced SEP course would enable them to be licensed and a pay increase would also be helpful.

    EK have huge control in the UAE and must be able to find an answer to this stupid jobsworth civil service UK rant

  33. What a wonderful example of bureaucrats not having enough to do. Creating problems where there aren’t any is probably taught in bureaucrat school.

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