The flight attendants are fighting the big airline

From June 1, the Scandinavian airline SAS will require its flight attendants to clean the restrooms in order to save additional expenses of hiring external cleaning services. Although in most airlines the flight crew is asked to ensure that the area around the toilet cabins is clean and there is no scattered waste, now the airline crews will also be forced to thoroughly clean after each flight.

The program that is angering airline employees these days is called Cabin Tidy. As the Swedish newspaper reports Expressen, SAS flight attendants have had to pick up trash left by passengers on domestic flights for several years, but now crews must clean the lavatory cabins on all domestic Scandinavian flights, and later possibly also on other international routes with a flight duration of up to about three hours. An open dispute broke out between the airline, the workers and the workers’ representatives about the exact requirements and where the reasonable limit was.

Trying to save on expenses. Scandinavian Airlines | Photo: Jeppe Gustafsson, shutterstock

According to the airline, cabin crew should contribute to the visibility of the aircraft by assisting with cleaning. The “tidy cabin” program is not only intended to save costs for external cleaning companies, since conducting without external cleaning teams may also help reduce parking time on the ground and fly at more precise times, according to the airline’s argument. “We are doing everything we can to cut costs to be competitive, and this is a cost-saving measure,” said a SAS spokeswoman.

The confusing question that is on the table now is whether this means that the flight attendants have to “do everything”, including taking care of cleaning in addition to the other actions they are required to perform. “It would be an absolute catastrophe if we had to clean the plane,” says an unnamed SAS flight attendant. According to the same flight attendant, the company’s measures indicate that the crews will be forced to clean the toilets, floors and sinks. The workers’ frustration led to an uproar at the company, which now tries to avoid using the word “cleaning”.

From now on the flight attendants will also have to clean the toilets | Photography: photosounds, shutterstock

Do flight attendants have to clean the toilets?

At the German airline Condor, the answer to the question remains vague. “The crew on board regularly checks the cleanliness of the toilets on board, especially on long flights,” explains the airline’s spokesperson. Cleanliness is a crucial factor in the satisfaction of guests on board, “therefore, Condor aircraft are carefully and extensively cleaned by specialized cleaning service providers after every single flight.”

Also at Lufthansa (LH), the national airline of Germany, dedicated teams carry out a thorough cleaning after or before each flight. Compared to SAS in Lufthansa, the flight attendants are not responsible for cleaning the toilets.

In EasyJet, the situation is similar, and after the airline’s planes land at their home base in the evening, they are thoroughly cleaned at night by external crews, while during flights and between flights, the crews make sure that the entire cabin is kept clean.

Toilets on the plane (photo: bookzv, shutterstock)

The toilets are often cleaned by external companies | Photo: bookzv, shutterstock

“If the members of the cabin crew clean – it’s only out of goodwill”

Michelle P. She is a flight attendant for a large German airline, and she believes that the toilets on the plane do not always remain clean after a flight, but on the contrary: “Most of the toilets are disgustingly dirty. People urinate outside the toilet and throw used toilet paper on the floor. Used toilet paper thrown on the floor is a clear sign that someone has been And it was not cleaned. If the members of the cabin crew clean it, it is only for reasons of goodwill. Cleaning the toilet is definitely not part of the flight attendant’s job requirements.”

Another flight attendant at the same airline, Karin P., is not ready to clean the toilet compartment at all: “Don’t clean small or big accidents, nor drops of water or other liquids that passengers leave behind. The employment contract doesn’t say anything about cleaning the toilets,” she says, but She adds that in teams there are always employees who see things a little differently. “They put on rubber gloves and the cleaning operation begins. I would never do that.”

The regulations of the airlines usually justify the flight attendants. It is sometimes customary for toilets that are no longer fit for use, for example due to dirt or a defect, to be closed for the duration of the flight and then cleaned by the responsible ground crew after landing.

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