Facing an aircraft shortage but surging demand for transpacific travel, Qantas has placed an Airbus A330 on a key U.S. route. But with that comes a number of complications, including the spectacle of flight attendants forced to set up a camp of blanket forts in the back of the economy class cabin.
Qantas Flight Attendants Resort To Blanket Forts On Aging And Inadequate A330
Australia is now fully re-opened to visitors and no longer even requires testing. With demand outpacing its supply of aircraft (the return of the entire Airbus A380 fleet will take more time), Qantas has chosen to place an A330 on its route between Brisbane and Los Angeles. At 7,161 miles and over 14 hours in the westbound direction, this is hardly a short hop.
But the A330 does not have crew rest bunks, creating a dilemma for the flight attendants who work this flight. The last few rows of economy class have therefore served as the makeshift crew rest area.
As an aside, the union representing Qantas flight attendants in Australia asked for an extra day of (paid) rest on either side of the trip due to the lack of proper sleeping accommodations. Qantas turned down the request and is instead using New Zealand-based crews to operate the BNE-LAX route.
Rachel Yangoyan, the Qantas cabin crew manager, explained:
“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.”
Sort of makes it clear why Qantas has a strained relationship with its labor…
This crew rest issue was exacerbated on a recent flight when the lights in the cabin would not go off, prompting flight agents to create forts out of blankets in the rear of economy class in order to block out light.
— 1News (@1NewsNZ) April 21, 2022
As One Mile At A Time wonders, why not just use eyeshades?
The picture above went viral, but the lighting problem was just a one-off. Forcing flight attendants to sleep across four seats in coach, however, is now standard on that route.
While certainly better than nothing, I’ve tried sleeping across a row of coach seats more than enough times to understand this does not replace a bed. It’s never the same.
Hopefully Qantas can get more 787 Dreamliners or A380s online soon and keep the A330 on the shorter routes on which it belongs.
Qantas flight attendants operating the Brisbane – Los Angeles are currently forced to use economy class seats to sleep. A light mallufnction on a recent flight led to an absurd spectacle of blanket forts springing up in an attempt to block out the light.
image: Terence Ong