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Pampered Dubai maids sniff at flying budget

By Shuchita Kapur

A maid’s employment contract in the UAE states that it is the liability of the employer to fly the maid into the country and after two years of employment, provide a return ticket to her home country.

While many residents, of their own accord, go beyond the contract and provide maids with additional incentives such as a food and clothing allowance and regular extras like tips etc., a new demand that is adding to the residents’ burden is the refusal of some maids to fly budget airlines like Air Arabia and Flydubai.

Popular forums are full of residents complaining that this new demand by maids is totally unjustified. “…[My maid] tells me she doesn’t want to use Fly Dubai. I was a bit taken aback (I’ve used them and found them absolutely fine).

Looking at the prices, they are cheaper than her preferred choice of Sri Lankan Airlines or Emirates. My husband told me she goes with the cheapest and that’s that but I have to tell her. What do you do with your maid’s flights –is she being cheeky or am I being mean?” reads a post on expatwoman.com, a blog popular with UAE residents.

“I used to occasionally fly my houseboy [by] Emirates. I didn’t know that you get more luggage allowance on EK than Sri Lankan by 10 kgs maybe that’s the discrepancy (sp?) although I think that whatever flight you put them on as long as it’s not via Timbuktu should be acceptable!! It should not [be] a pick and choose option!

“In fact this is why I fell out with my old houseboy because I booked his flight on Sri Lankan and he then decided he wanted to change it to EK (more expensive). I wouldn’t have minded but he would have paid the difference not us! Then I discovered he went to the travel agency and tried to change it without asking us or us even knowing, by saying my husband was away and he had authority to change it and they could put the extra cost on my husband’s account! - Livid were we! Houseboy [has] gone because I do not tolerate lying, sneakiness and thinking he's was too big for his boots! It was all because he wanted to travel with his brother-in-law and yes a status thing completely,” reads another post on the same site.

“This is a new problem,” a resident of The Springs area in Dubai told this website. “I got my maid two months back and flew her Air Arabia. The moment she entered the house I heard complains – that Sharjah airport is too far away and she is used to flying Emirates. I was shocked to hear this. Maybe a few years down the line she will ask me for a business class ticket!”

Most in the city maintain that residents should not give into this new demand. Reacting to such a demand, one Dubai resident wrote on the site: “I think it is really cheeky of her to assume that you shouldn't take cost into consideration when buying her ticket. It is not a long flight [from Sri Lanka] and Fly Dubai is a perfectly adequate airline. We book our maid's flights with them. Even paying extra for luggage and to get a decent seat the price is usually lots less than Emirates or Sri Lankan and for her to think that that shouldn't enter in your decision when you are the one paying is ridiculous.”

“I'd point out to her that Prince Harry has flown Easyjet and if she really doesn't think that she can cope with Fly Dubai then she needs to pay the extra to fly with her preferred choice of airline,” added another online denizen.

“Yes, she goes the cheapest. You aren't a charity after all!!!My husband's employees are the same way ... 'oh, I'm too big to fly Delta, I prefer Emirates' I tell them the same thing. Sorry, you get what you get,” read another strongly worded response.