Stewardess Sues Qantas For Lack Of Training On Stair Usage

A Qantas flight attendant has sued the airline for $315,000 after she slipped on wet stairs. Margaret Chapman was using mobile stairs at the time, and fell due to the rain making them slippery, injuring her neck and shoulder.

Qantas stairs
Take care on those stairs dear, they look a little wet… Photo: Maurice via Flickr

Margaret Chapman, a flight attendant for Australian airline Qantas apparently needs to be told to take care on wet stairs. Although this is something most of us rely on common sense to understand, apparently Qantas need to develop specific training on how to proceed down a stairway when the rain has made it wet. (hint: the answer is ‘carefully’).

The 47 year old FA was working a Qantas flight which landed at Brisbane airport in bad weather. As is often the case at busy airports, the airline decided to use mobile stairs to aid swift disembarkation of the aircraft, rather than wait for a boarding bridge.

As the rain had made the stairs wet, they became somewhat slippery. Chapman fell while walking down them, and reportedly injured her shoulder, neck and (perhaps crucially) her thumb.

Suing for $315,000

Rather than taking this as an unfortunate accident, the flight attendant has decided to take the matter to court. Using Patinos Personal Lawyers, she has filed a claim at the Brisbane District Court, claiming that Qantas needed to provide proper equipment and training.

Training? On how to use stairs? Umm….

Aircraft stairs
Transiting aircraft stairs is not normally considered a major risk. Photo: Pxhere

While we don’t like to cast any shadow of doubt on the severity of her injuries (she claims she has been left ‘permanently impaired’ and ‘less employable’ as a result), sometimes you’ve just got to chalk it down to experience. Short of providing a gigantic umbrella to shield the stairs from the rain, it’s unclear what Qantas could have done differently to prevent her getting hurt?

According to the claim (as reported by The Australian),

“But for the negligence of the defendant (Qantas), the plaintiff (Ms. Chapman) would not have suffered said injuries… The defendant required the plaintiff to perform her work duties in an unsafe manner.”

Qantas have so far declined to comment on the situation as the ‘matter is still proceeding’.

Will Qantas pay?

Ultimately this case is one for the courts to decide. However, previous cases can provide a clue to the outcome. According to Irish news agency The Journal, a 75 year old man who slipped down stairs when leaving a Ryanair flight lost his claim for €60,000. However, this was due to his claim being filed too late for consideration.

In another Ryanair incident, Polish passenger Malgorzata Jeneralczyk slipped on mobile stairs at Dublin Airport. The Irish Times reports that she was successful in her claim, settling for €38,000 in damages.

Qantas A330
Should Qantas settle the claim? Photo: Wikimedia

While the case is in the hands of the courts, what it will come down to is whether Qantas could have done more to protect her. If the stairs were not the best stairs they could have used for the job, then perhaps she has a case. Otherwise, perhaps common sense should have prevailed, and frivolous lawsuits avoided.