Life in the Golden Cage ME3 Carriers: Emirates, Qatar and Etihad



Emirates just put out a big splashy spread in Yahoo Australia touting their ME3 Carrier Cabin Crew experience to be nothing short of rose tinted Rainbows and Unicorns. I have personally met many former American Cabin Crew who returned to America with a very different picture they painted. They were all telling tales of the Caged Bird in the Golden Cage singing for its supper wearing Golden Handcuffs.  Yet, my information was at least a couple of years old. So I felt it was time to get an update from some current American-born US Cabin Crew to get the recent state of affairs of life today at the big ME3 Carriers. A lot can change in a few years.  There are a lot of things floating around the rumor mill about the ME3 Carriers. I decided to ask these 3 American Crew their responses on these 6 topics that have been debated on forums and within the media for the past decade.

1) There are no union protections in regards to work rule violations, harassment, some sexual, intimidation in the workplace, privacy, and civil rights violations.  Have you ever encountered any of these things or have others ? If so are there procedures in place to rectify these issues when they occur ?  Do the Cabin Crews feel that they have fair recourse in this regard?

UAE Cabin Crew: There isn’t a union, but there are clear guidelines set out in your contract and you have every right if you feel you were treated unfairly to approach or appeal to senior managers.

Former EK Cabin Crew: Up to the last couple of months EK managers felt strong enough to rule their company with fear and punishment knowing that almost nothing of it will go out to public as they have a habit of punishing staff who write negative facts about them online. This is the reason why they have threatened me with a prison as well. Writing this blog has been a huge challenge for me. I get a lot of “please don’t stop writing” e-mails so I continue to write as this blog became one of the few voices of disempowered Emirates Airline employees. It is very hard to describe poisonous and negative atmosphere which is waiting for you once you begin your work. You will be reported for a small mistake or for no reason at all, back-stabbed, disrespected and humiliated. And if you are young and inexperienced, you are likely to lose your self-confidence and a sense of a personal value.EK management is very aware of the process it’s just that they are lying to the public and instead telling them the truth – that they desperately need 11.000 new staff to replace those who massively resigned in the couple of last months, they will tell you that they are “expanding their business and fleet” and that they are “becoming more powerful and successful”. Besides lying to potential new joiners they are also lying to themselves as the company is seriously shaken from the inside. If there are 20 new aircraft, and one aircraft needs 80 cabin crew for service, Emirates Airline needs only 1600 new cabin crew this year (20×80). So why this article announces around 5500 new cabin crew this year? It’s 3900 crew more than they need (5500-1600)! There is around 19.000 cabin crew in Emirates Airline currently. 3900 is simply a large number of crew that they have lost last year and that they have to replace urgently. In percentages, it is 20% of all cabin crew. So, one fifth of cabin crew resigned last year! Does anyone, besides EK managers, really think that 20% of lost cabin crew is a success, especially if we take into consideration that 130pilots resigned in the past three months?

EK Cabin Crew: Emirates hired more than their fleet capacity last year only not because so many crew left or whatsoever as the article mentioned. The company increased the crew compliment on full flights and that needed extra new crew on the current fleet + the newer aircraft. on such a huge fleet you will def need a big recruitment campaign

Etihad Cabin Crew: Don’t forget the US3 don’t like the ME3 so people will say anything to make us look bad.

2) Some M3 Carriers are said by American Crew and Print Media that their passports are taken before and after flights so they can not leave their Emirate without permission and are therefore trapped…?

UAE Cabin Crew: It is illegal by UAE law to keep someone’s passport. The only time you are ever without your passport is the first few days you arrive and once every three years when it’s submitted to renew your resident’s visa. Qatar has been known to block passports in their system as punishment to prevent travel in the past.

3) Crews have stated that they are unnecessarily being watched, monitored and spied upon with videos in the dorm housing as well as Curfews. That if they violate the curfews then they are severely punished or even fired ?

UAE Cabin Crew:  We have never had a curfew at my airline. Certain rules apply for our guests. If they’re not registered they have to leave by 1 am.

Etihad Cabin Crew: We most definitely do not have anything like that here.

Former Qatar Cabin Crew: Qatar airlines demands attendants ask permission before getting married. Flight attendants must be single and remain so for at least five years. They are required to notify the airline immediately if they fall pregnant. The plan works! Saga develops more and more methods. Sleeping away, but picking up the washing on the way back to make it look as though she just got back from a short errand. Sleeping away, but taking a work outfit with her so that the guard will think she’s returning from a flight. The curfew for days off is 3.30 am. If you miss curfew then you can be terminated. The flight attendants devise new ways to live in a work dictatorship. They become experts at avoiding the employer’s cameras. The flight attendants devise new ways to live in a work dictatorship. They become experts at avoiding the employer’s cameras.

4) Female Cabin Crew have come back to the US stating that they have been sexually harassed by Royal Families, Airline Management and Crew Schedulers for sexual favors. If they did not respond to advances then they were given less desirable rosters or even fired. Females who responded were given gifts and even promotions ?

UAE Cabin Crew: I have never heard any female crew ever make any ill remark against any member of the royal family and whenever they’re brought up, it’s clear they are well respected.

Etihad Cabin Crew: I’ve never even heard such a thing from any crew either

Former EK Cabin Crew:  Emirates flight attendant was asked for sex in exchange for a better roster . Apparently, the Crew Scheduling Department staff asked the female crew for sex favors in exchange for a better roster. This is her quote below:  “I want to write about one special story with the “ethical” member of the Crew Scheduling Department : Jose. He called mentioning that I had phoned Crew Scheduling earlier making a request to change my flight. After I confirmed yes. He said let’s talk a bit and we will see. Talk about what ??? He was asking me if I have a boyfriend, where I live  and other personal things. He told me to now look at my roster on the portal. My Bombay trip suddenly disappeared and another shorter flight appeared! I was in shock! He said: “I gave you that flight because you will be back at the same time when I finish my duty.” He said it’s a short flight and you will be rested so we can have fun after I come back and he finishes his duty. (!!!) She declined his offer stating that even shorter flights would require rest after. Crew Scheduler then stated, “If I change it to off, what do I get …?”

Qatar CEO Al Baker:  He was found guilty of Sexual Discrimination. Says He Doesn’t Give A Damn. He was later required to make some policy changes. Qatar Airways relaxes marriage and pregnancy policy Aug 2015.

5) Cabin Crew have stated objections and violations to the invasive Cabin Crew UAE GVAA Medical Screenings for Hiv and Hep. That this is for a pre-employment and every time the plane lands back into their base. If the test is positive,  they are fined, jailed and deported ?

UAE Cabin Crew:  and  Etihad Crew: The UAE requires a screening for anyone trying to gain a residence visa. You would only be officially tested every 3 years, which is how long residents visas are issued for.

Former UAE Cabin Crew: It is commonplace for employers in the UAE to conduct regular blood tests. Furthermore, the health status of the individual needs to be declared on any visa application for the UAE. The HIV medication is effectively illegal in the UAE.

6) Cabin Crew are given contracts for a set period of 3 years that they sign onto. If they do not meet the contract they have signed and try to quit, they are responsible for the balance of the contract. They must have the funds to pay in order to vacate their employment contract. Is this true ? If there is an employment cancellation fee and how much does it cost to typically leave a contract ?

UAE Cabin Crew: I can only speak of my airline, your contract is non-binding, you may leave at any time. If you leave before a certain short period at the start you are entitled to pay back some small fees that the airline covered during your relocation to the UAE.

Etihad Cabin Crew:  We don’t have any policy about that. If you want to leave then you leave. They give you a ticket and you go home.

Former UAE Cabin Crew: Crew member was told that she would be granted two weeks’ leave only after turning in a death certificate. So not allowed to go for funerals. The pressures of working within the ME3 became too much for two of my colleagues, both of whom took their own lives. Suicide is illegal in the U.A.E., so both deaths were reported as “accidental falls,” while their families were sent the associated bills for cleaning out the apartments and repatriating the bodies.


Well, there you have it with the run down of what is fact and or rumor mill including the very upbeat current employees versus the very critical former employees. I have just decided to put it all out there and let the reader decide on what is real or not. I honestly do not know after hearing both sides. They all seem to believe what they are saying. There is also an old saying:  “Where there is smoke, there is fire.”  I guess that leaves me somewhere in the middle. I do not think it is all Rainbows and Unicorns like the current employee’s paint it. However, not necessarily the Slave Ship complete Dictatorship the way former employees paint it either.

This all still reminds me of Maya Angelo and her poem the Caged Bird.  The poem asks: Why does the Caged Bird sing in his Golden Cage ?

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
We may never know why the Caged Bird  M3 Cabin Crew sings from their Golden Cage.  They may sing since all they really want is their freedom back or maybe they sing because they love their Golden Cage at the M3 airline that owns them. Only the Cage Bird with the golden handcuffs in his Golden Cage knows for sure. Then maybe he is just singing all the way to the bank. As he is a very well paid little bird in a very nicely furnished Golden Cage.




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    7 thoughts on “Life in the Golden Cage ME3 Carriers: Emirates, Qatar and Etihad

    1. My friend Jade has disappeared, she is Emirates cabin crew.
      Her apartment phone rings without answer, her cell phone is off.
      Emirates email bounces and her personal Yahoo email has been unanswered for days! She ran into some trouble with EK management and her name has been mentioned in some web articles.
      I am worried, would Emirates Management send her home in a matter of days?
      Please help me find out the truth


    2. I have wrote a post on fb today regarding the curfews and the dating matter, and how residency worked, and what would happen if you got caught doing something… there was a stupid girl who acted like she owned all of these companies, she made me feel so shity I felt the need to delete my fb account (for a while). Believe me, I have no idea how you and Dragana, from another blog, have the balls for this.
      But thank you! Thank you for existing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry to hear Jenna. You may wanna try the guy who has the Facebook Forum: A Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge. He works there and might be able to help and shed some light. I am US Based Crew soon to be retired living in the West Coast. Wish I could be more help. I hope you can locate your friend. Good luck.


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