Actually they’re groomed on longer turns or downtime like this plane had been in this case. Do not equate your observations from sitting in the passenger cabin to how the cleaning and grooming schedules work.
Why not? The cleanliness - or filthiness - of the passenger cabin is as good an indicator of cleaning/grooming schedules as any. More often=cleaner cabins. AC's general cabin cleanliness standards are some way behind airlines it likes to compare itself to - LH/LX etc.
I too assumed that this kind of downtime would be used to clean... evidently that cleaning was scheduled for sometime after this lady woke up. How does it work anyway? Does the cleaning crew use air stairs to get in and power up the aircraft, or is it cleaned after being towed to the gate for its next flight, in which case is it a quick groom rather than a "deep clean"?
I will put things in some perspective for you.
Every airline has different standards. I actually work for a ground handling company which have a contract with one of the Australian domestic carriers and as such we are also indirect employees of the airline with all the benefits that come with it. Ultimately though I work for a ground handler the airline dictates what they expect and how long it should take.
During the course of the day OTP takes preference over cleaning. During out hot turns which can be as little as 35 minutes for 737's and 70 minutes for A332's we must stay on OTP. If we cause a delay we are charged up to $1000 a minute by the airline for the delay. On these turns for 737's the incoming crew will clean the cabin, that includes removing rubbish from seat pockets, crossing belts and vacuuming, while we will provide new business class blankets, pillows and IFE's while removing the used ones and supplying new toiletry and hygiene kits, plus a quick clean of the toilets, typically this is done by 1-2 cleaners and we are expected to be on and off within 5 minutes. On the A332's we are given 20 minutes during the day and 25 minutes during the night due to extra loading of linen for redeye flights, we will give business a full clean and in economy seat belts are crossed and seat pockets are emptied of rubbish, old headsets are collected and new ones distributed along with aircraft being vacuumed. Normally 4-5 cleaners will be in the cabin and another one will be responsible for cleaning toilets.
On a semi turn, this is an aircraft which is on the ground during the day for more than 2 hours, with the 737's we would check seat pockets and cross seat belts, vacuum, do toilets and clean galleys. On the A332's we would wipe tray tables and clean galleys. Typically on these 2 types of turns though the crew are responsible for seats they have a tendency to throw the seat belts across the seats and not cross them, when it comes to fleet presentation if left up to the crew it is presented poorly.
Termination cleans are done at the each of day. For aircraft doing redeyes they tend to go without a proper termination clean for a couple of days. Depending on the number of cleaners depends on the time allocated to clean the aircraft. For the 737's 4 people would be allocated 40-45 minutes, 5 would 35-40 minutes and 6 30-35 minutes. On a A332 we are allocated up to an hour and half for a termination clean. For the 737's a termination clean includes seats (cross seat belts, empty rubbish from pockets, wipe seats, tray tables and back of seats), vacuum all floors, removal of all used linen and IFE's, clean galleys (empty rubbish bin and double lining with fresh bags, clean all surfaces including inside ovens, cleaning over crew seats, aircraft doors and mopping floors), spot clean walls, clean all air vents on side walls and above seats, clean overheads, clean emergency exit stripping on floors and replace refills in seat back pockets (safety cards, WIFI card, onboard menu, magazine and sick bag), thorough clean of toilets (restock toiletries behind mirror, clean mirror, toilet, air vent, all walls, door and floors), restock toilet and hygiene kits, replace battery in onboard vacuum cleaner.
Deep cleans are done once a month or there abouts. I have only done them on A332's but normally we would be noticed in advance on when the airline wants the deep clean done, normally it would take 10-12 cleaners 4 hours to deep clean the aircraft. 2 would be in business, 6-8 in economy, 1 on toilets and 1 on galleys and walls. In economy all seats are removed, cleaned underneath then replaced, front part of seat pocket which is held under the seat with Velcro is which is pulled back (this is where all the rubbish that falls down the holes in each end of the seat pocket and is stored), all seats are cleaned along with head rests, all walls cleaned, all vents and overheads cleaned, all windows and shades cleaned (shades are left down as inside of aircraft is sprayed after cleaning as is the hold). Business is the same though seats are cloth so we have to run a small thingy me jig over it to get rid of all the knots in the fabric, this can easily take 15 minutes a seat.
We also clean aircraft on remote bays. If we have a few aircraft arrive at the same time sometimes they will be towed. We normally stay on board while it gets towed, except for the one with the ADA (Airside Driving Authority). For aircraft that have been towed, stairs are normally in place to access the aircraft, the only exception is during high winds stairs are pulled back for obvious reasons. If the front door is closed, only someone who is signed off on doors can open it, if you were to accidently deploy the slide because you didn't check and follow the right procedure it costs the airline around $20,000 for a new slide. If there is no power to the aircraft we call the engineers to come and put the power on, at no point do we turn it on ourselves. Engineers are also called when cleaning has finished to turn power off. Normally they will use the APU to power the aircraft in this situation, they also put the aircon on during the hotter months as inside it can be around 15 degrees celcius hotter than outside, even in winter months the aircraft stay quite warm they don't cool down fast. If the APU is running the aircraft is required to have stairs attached