One of the most essential and underrated elements of a good flight is the cabin crew.
They’re the ones doing all the dirty work behind the scenes: helping passengers board and exit the plane; serving food and drinks; looking after passengers with special needs and of course showing us how to use those damn lifejackets.
It’s not an easy job, either. Long hours, jet lag, being away from home for long periods of time and dealing with entitled flyers all take their toll. Now it seems there’s another imposition cabin crew may have to contend with: not being able to go to the toilet.
China’s aviation regulator is recommending cabin crew on charter flights to high-risk COVID-19 destinations wear disposable diapers and avoid using the bathroom to reduce the risk of infection, Bloomberg reports.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China has recommended this as part of a 38-page list of guidelines for airlines to prevent the spread of The Bat Kiss. Other measures recommended for cabin crew include medical protective masks, goggles, double-layer disposable medical rubber gloves, disposable caps, disposable protective clothing and disposable shoe covers.
The recommendations aren’t quite so severe when it comes to the flight crew, which say they should wear masks and goggles, but they don’t need to wear diapers – somewhat of an oversight, as commercial pilots generally use the same toilets as passengers.
While it’s not clear if these recommendations will become compulsory for Chinese airlines or airlines flying into China, they’re certainly worrying.
No doubt, these recommendations come from a place of genuine concern. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is crucial, and air travel is a particularly at-risk vector for infection. But we feel for cabin crew who might have to endure the indignity of wearing adult diapers during what’s already quite a stressful and sometimes demeaning job. It potentially sets an unwelcome precedent, too – airlines might continue to force cabin crew to wear diapers post-COVID, denying workers their rights.
Earlier in September, the Australian Federal Court made a landmark ruling that workers have a legal right to go to the toilet and drink water while at work, after the manager of a Brisbane McDonalds franchise told their employees that they weren’t obliged to let them go to the bathroom outside scheduled breaks – prompting legal action from the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
This echoes protests in multiple different countries about Amazon’s warehouse working conditions, where employees in the UK were forced to urinate in plastic bottles because they couldn’t go to the bathroom during their shift, The Independent relates.
Obviously, there’s a big difference between disease control measures and barefaced corporate greed. But our sympathies still lie with Chinese cabin crews who might have to endure wearing adult diapers.
Fingers crossed we get a vaccine soon…