I wouldn’t hold it against you… but think again!
Recently, I was on duty continuously, with no rest, for twenty two hours! This is not a normal practice, however it is a common occurrence in the face of an emergency, such as that on EK 222 on New Years Eve 2017.
All was well when we departed from Dallas bound for Dubai.
Not long after take off, it eventuated that one of the economy class toilets was inoperative (INOP: Broken). This is not a major issue, as there are nine toilets in that class on an Airbus A380.
As the flight progressed, more and more toilets were becoming inoperable and unfit for use. They would not flush, and we had to start locking them in Economy, Business Class and even First Class.
Around half way through the flight (approximately 7 hours and one full service later) the Captain told the Purser (Flight Attendant in Charge) that we were going to have to divert to the nearest airport that can facilitate an Airbus A380 due to having not one toilet in use, for over 600 passengers. By this stage, it was just about to be my legal rest slot (a few hours of rest in the Crew Rest Compartment that is both mentally and physically essential). Instead of changing into my Cabin Crew Issue pyjamas and bidding the already sleeping crew goodnight, I had to wake them up and give them the unfortunate news that yes, we were diverting, no, it wasn’t a medical or safety emergency, but still an emergency of sorts.
We secured the cabin and prepared for landing. I had no idea how long we were going to be in Dublin, if we were going to be stuck, what would happen to our passengers and if the airport would be closed or not. I knew it was closed for Christmas and I had a sneaking suspicion that New Years would be the same!
Upon landing the Captain revealed that there were warning signs that the toilets may have had a technical issue, but it was nothing grave and there was no way of foreseeing that every single toilet on board would malfunction at the same time! He used his initiative and discretion, without endangering anyone’s safety and made the best decision he possibly could. I admire him for that!
A New Year’s Diversion
We were in Dublin only for about an hour while the Engineers came on board and fixed the aircraft. I was correct in thinking that Dublin airport would be shut – but luckily we were able to get the issue fixed in under an hour and be on our way back to Dubai. Luckily, our passengers were so understanding and kind, even despite the fact that whilst preparing for landing in Dublin, if they were extremely desperate for the toilet, we advised them that they could not be flushed, and we had no way of knowing what was in the bowl or how high the water level was at. Disgusting, to say the least! Especially for our premium passengers who had paid tens of thousands of Dirhams for our world class facilities!
Needless to say, all was forgiven when we landed in Dubai some 30 hours after originally receiving my hotel wake up call! My job is a dream come true but sometimes the you-know-what just hits the fan and all bets are off!
Adapted by Taylor Katselas, as told by JD.