Flight Attendant Sues Qantas, Says Airline Should Have Provided Training on How to Use Stairs

In 1984 a California man was tossing his toddler up and down in his living room. The kid loved it, and the father went higher and higher. Until the kid’s head hit the ceiling fan. Which was on. And the man sued the ceiling fan manufacturer for failing to warn him that walking with a child underneath a ceiling fan could be dangerous. This wasn’t even the only man to sue over failure to warn after a ceiling fan injury.

In that vein a Qantas flight attendant is now suing the airline after slipping on air stairs (subscription), saying the Australian carrier should have provided training on how to use stairs.

A statement of claim .. said Qantas should have known that using mobile stairs from aircraft in inclement weather would expose flight attendants to the risk of slipping. It was also claimed Qantas should have provided stairs that were not slippery when wet and should have provided training and instruction in the safe manner of descending the mobile stairs in wet weather.

Injuries aren’t funny (I’m not even much of a fan of slapstick comedy). But not everything unfortunate that happens is someone else’s fault or ought to be legally actionable. Then again, Phil Hartman once said on Saturday Night Live, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life wondering, maybe I should have sued?”

(HT: Donald W.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Being careful on wet stairs is normal self-preservation behavior. I’m not sure I’d want Qantas should be employing people without that instinct.

  2. I am all against frivolous lawsuits which replace commonsense. However, I can see the point of the FA if the mobile stairs were not designed to handle inclement weather; for example, if there were no rubberized, non-skid treads, or textured ridges on the (slick) metal stairs. RE: training, well, that’s just stupid if one needs to be told to hold on to the handrail. Wasn’t that parents’ job when the child is a toddler?

  3. There should also be training for the FA about the toilets. If you don’t, the FA may stick their head inside and drown.

    Train the FA to wipe after going potty. Otherwise, the FA might, just might, lick the poop stains.

    The hand railing is for oldsters and for everyone when it is windy and/or wet. There doesn’t need to be a special warning. When it is cold, you look where you step to make sure there’s no ice or doggie dodo.

    Falling is lousy but training is not an issue.

  4. I’m a flight attendant. A few months ago we got an “important” memo on how to properly use the stairs at one of our outdoor gates because too many people were falling carrying their luggage.

  5. Spoons made me fat. I hope they sued Airbus for the height of that airplane above the ground.
    Also sue Newton for inventing gravity. If necessary sue his descendants the Fig Newtons. 🙂

    And I hereby sue Gary for putting out story links behind paywalls. Violating the “right to happiness guaranteed in the US Constitution

    I am not a lawyer,nothing here constitutes legal advice. For entertainment purposes. Caveat emptor. Quid pro quo.

  6. PLEASE PLEASE let me be on that jury.

    I hereby find the Defendant (Qantas) NOT GUILTY. And I order Plaintiff (FA) pay 100% of the Defendant’s legal fees and all court costs. And further order Plaintiff to pay $100,000 to Defendant for filing a stupid, ridiculous and frivolous lawsuit.

    Court is dismissed

  7. Hey just wondering how does Ryanair manage to stay in business since near every one of their many daily flights boards/disembarks via … stairs?

    Kudos to the original Anglo Saxons, as they are seemingly the only ones in the Anglo-Saxon world who have it in their DNA to know how to use stairs in rain.

  8. People should try to look beyond the temptation to make stupid and ill-informed comments and consider the following:

    – Aircraft stairs are recognised as hazardous
    – The airline, therefore, does need to address that hazard in its risk analysis of potentially hazardous events and mitigate that risk through appropriate training and other hazard reduction/awareness strategies
    – This is standard in the Australian workplace
    – Australia also has a system for compensation for work-related injury
    – If the design of the stairs do indeed fail to mitigate slipping in wet weather then there would be a factor to address and answer for
    – There have been a number of incidents of slipping on aircraft stairs eading to injury so it is a known safety issue

    In this case, the employee sustained long term injuries affecting her employability and therefore earning capacity.

    Perhaps a little more thought and analysis would assuage the temptation for ignorant judgement by many on this blog?!

  9. There is a history of people falling down wet stairs in Australia since 1975 when President Ford visited there. If that person does not know it can happen for a president then they need to see their doctor about their head


  10. @platy: Yes, mobile stairs are hazardous. Many of your statements, while truthful, do not equate to wrongful injury by Quantas as opposed to the employee.
    The solution for exiting the plane was optimized based on reasonable constraints. The alternatives, such as providing a ladder instead of stairs, might be cause for complaint.
    What is your threshold, in quantifiable terms, for placing blame on the injured person instead of on the company?

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