I am a full time female commercial pilot for a major airline and the above headline does not surprise me. What has surprised me (and for sometime now) is how long it has taken to acknowledge this fact.
The pressures on an airline and it’s crew for an efficient turnaround include: nodding a friendly good-bye to every passenger, greeting a fleet of cleaners to swarm in to clean each section of the cabin. Re-fuel the aircraft, unload outbound bags then load the inbound bags. Harass the flight dispatcher to bring passengers and paperwork to the aircraft. Finally, negotiate, renegotiate then plead with air traffic control to let us go on time. This (and more) takes, if everything goes to plan, an hour. If it is less then something has been compromised, namely, cleaning.
I have observed, in the time we park, off-load passengers, checked the I.D. of each cleaner, Ryanair have thrown out their passengers one end of the aircraft and pulled in the next set of harassed flyers the other end. There is no space for cleaners. It is the one area of a turnaround this (in my opinion) bullish airline has dispensed with under the heading ‘unnecessary luxury’. So, if a child has wet itself on a seat then bad luck for the next occupant. If a poor passenger has thrown-up over their entire row of filthy seats then the next group have to hold their breath and hope the cabin crew have managed to kindly pick away the main chunks.
One story that has circulated around the ‘crew gossip mill’ involves a Ryanair crew insisting to HQ their aircraft really needs cleaning as (during the preceding flight) the front toilet had leaked spewing out its entire brown contents down the cabin. Reluctantly, Ryanair agreed and sent one Spanish cleaner with a hoover to the aircraft. The crew complained but were told : “that’s it until the aircraft gets back to Stansted where it’ll be cleaned properly.” so, after a feeble sweep, the crew sucked in their breath and greeted their disgusted return passengers.
I agree with the comment in the Sky news report that if you are flying Ryanair then bring wet wipes but if, on boarding, your feet squelch down the aisle carpet then please, use the whole packet. Finally, if you are like me, a mother with young children then swaddle them in bio-suits before you board or better still, may I suggest, you choose another airline.