Qantas is getting a lot of attention for the crew rest facilities that they offer on some long haul flights.

Qantas’ crew rest facilities on 14 hour transpacific flight

Qantas is increasing its international service because Australia has reopened to visitors. The airline has resumed its route between Los Angeles and Brisbane. The route used to be operated by the airline with a Boeing 787-9. Qantas has had to shift around its fleet planning due to the fact that many of its A380s are still grounded.

There were no 787-9s available for the route that used to be operated by the A380. Qantas is only flying an A330-200 between Los Angeles and Brisbane.

This is a long flight, as the portion of the flight that is blocked is 7,161 miles. The major catch is that Qantas doesn't have crew rest facilities. Some seats in the last few rows of the economy are being blocked off for rest.

There are pictures of a recent flight where the crew decided to build a blanket fort, which is not a very professional look.

What happened here?

  • Qantas claims that there was a glitch on the flight whereby the lights wouldn’t turn off, so this was intended to make it a bit less bright for the crew (couldn’t eyeshades have accomplished that?); lights not turning off also seems really unpleasant for the rest of the crew
  • So while the blankets being draped like that is a one-off, it sounds like it’s standard to just see your crew stretched out across seats in economy trying to sleep
  • Qantas is apparently working on installing curtains on these planes around certain seats, so that it’s less awkward for both staff and passengers
Qantas is flying A330s between Brisbane and Los Angeles

How this situation is leading to further labor issues

I think it's even more interesting because there's more to the story. Qantas uses crews from New Zealand on the flight. Why? Qantas doesn't have great labor relations with the Australia-based cabin crew, which are represented by the Association of Australia.

The Australian flight attendant union asked for an extra day of rest on both sides of the trip because the planes lack proper crew rest facilities. It seems like an unreasonable request to me.

Qantas claimed that wasn't viable, so the airline is using New Zealand-based crews who work on a different contract for this flight, so that's what you see above. This situation is described by Rachel Yangoyan, Qantas cabin crew manager.

“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.”

Bottom line

Qantas resumed its Los Angeles route with an A330. This is one of the longest flights in the world. Qantas doesn't have proper crew rest facilities, so crews just have to sleep in economy seats.

I suppose this isn't ideal for crews, but the situation went viral on a recent flight, where a glitch meant that lights couldn't be turned off, and that caused crews to build blanket forts. If Qantas is going to keep flying A330s on flights, they should install some curtains around the rest areas.

What do you think about the Qantas crew rest situation?