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Call Button Abuse? Emirates Tells Cabin Crew to Stop Ignoring Passengers' Pages

May 17, 2019
3 min read
Photo of the bar/lounge in the rear of an Emirates Airbus A380 (access only to business class and first class passengers)
Call Button Abuse? Emirates Tells Cabin Crew to Stop Ignoring Passengers' Pages
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Despite whether it's polite or not — Emirates is now urging flight attendants to promptly answer every time a passenger rings the call button, even if it's just for a refill on booze.

This information comes from a leaked memo by Emirates that went out to all cabin crew earlier this week. According to Paddle Your Own Kanoo, it read: "Feedback from our customers in the last 4 months has highlighted that cabin monitoring is not being done as it should be. Cabins are being left unattended and call bells are not being answered immediately or at all."

The memo goes on to discuss a new policy in which call bells can only be reset at the passenger’s seat once their request has been completed, rather than resetting the bells from the aircraft's central control unit. Cabin crew members are allegedly not happy with the memo, stating that answering every call would cut into time needed to complete service on short flights.

As is, Emirates has a pretty cut-throat reputation when it comes to managing their flight attendants. Women employees are required to wear a specific shade of "Emirates Red" lipstick, for example — and that's just one of a lengthy list of grooming and fashion rules put in place by the Dubai-based airline.

Emirates' new policy is also a departure from the norms set by a majority of US airliners, in which passengers are generally discouraged from hitting the call button unless it's an emergency. “It depends on where you are flying. In the US, the crew call that button the ’emergency call button,’ meaning they only want you to use it in an emergency,” flight attendant Jay Robert, also known as A Fly Guy, told TPG. “International airlines just refer to it as a call button, or call bell, meaning during non-service times you can press it if you need something.”

A national etiquette expert we spoke to in July 2018 said that passengers should give themselves a "litmus test" prior to hitting the call button. “While flight attendants are there to make your flight comfortable, [it’s] not a service industry. They’re not waiters,” Diane Gottsman — author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life” and founder of The Protocol School of Texas said to TPG. “If you genuinely need assistance, that’s what the call button is for. If you’re just thirsty and the beverage cart hasn’t come yet, sit tight and be patient.”

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