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Airsick of delays

Emirates Airline leaves customers angry with no apology

August 27, 2013 4:10 by

Does an airline such as Emirates, particularly one that markets itself as the best and prices its tickets accordingly, feel that it is above an apologetic statement or promise of any form of compensation?

On Saturday afternoon, swarms of angry, tired and frustrated customers surrounded Emirates Airline’s customer service desk in Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport.

Passengers on the 11:50am Dubai-bound flight were forced to wait several hours before having to disembark due to a technical fault. The aircraft was forced to return to the gate three times over a period of more than three hours, after consecutive attempts to head to the runway, which ended with all passengers being told to leave the plane.

Back at the terminal with very little communication, frustrated passengers suffered a 14-hour delay before they were eventually able to board the early morning flight to Dubai at 1:30am.

A passenger, who wants to remain anonymous, tells Kipp: “There were only a couple of staff members from the airline and it was obvious they didn’t know what to tell us. There wasn’t enough food, everyone was getting angry and there were many women with children and a few pregnant women too.”

So far, Emirates has offered a brief statement defending its decision to further delay the flight, but Kipp is yet to receive a statement of apology or promise of compensation to the affected passengers. When contacted, an Emirates spokesperson said: “Emirates flight EK958 Beirut to Dubai on Saturday August 24 was delayed for 14 hours due to a technical issue. The safety of our staff and crew is of utmost importance and will not be compromised.”


Eyewitness accounts described the scene in the terminal as “completely chaotic” while dubbing the airline staff – of which only two were present – as “rude”, “extremely unorganised” and “unhelpful”.

What standard of service would you expect from a four-star airline that has repeatedly appeared in lists featuring the world’s top carriers and was voted by Skytrax as the best airline in the world in 2013? With a website brimming with promises of comfort – “attention to your every detail” and “anticipation of your every need” – customers would, at the very least, expect to receive their money’s worth.

Punctuality, proper communication and planning, quick service of food, polite staff and an adequate back-up plan (if things go wrong), would be some of the expectations that spring to mind. And yet, according those that were present during the 14-hour debacle, the Dubai-based carrier apparently failed to deliver on any of the above.

All airlines suffer technical difficulties, what’s important is how they respond to these unpleasant situations and their customers’ complaints. This isn’t the first customer service disaster for Emirates as, in September 2011, the airline was fined US$100,000 by the US government for failing to compensate passengers sufficiently for lost, damaged and delayed baggage.

Do you feel that Emirates have a history of disappointing its customers when it comes to admitting fault and offering compensation? We’ll let you decide.

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  1. Anonymous 2013 on August 28, 2013 11:38 am

    Did they mention to you that we were promised food but never received any? After three hours, they ordered 100 sandwiches for 400+ passengers. Those like me who couldn’t push their way through came back empty handed. We had to wait for another hour to go buy our own sandwiches from Cafematik, because no stock was left. Kids were starving. Babies were cranky. Strollers, once taken away while boarding the plane, were not given back to the parents. Dads and moms held their crying babies in their own arms for hours! No priority whatsoever was given to families with babies or to pregnant women until we (who do not have small babies) lobbied for them!

  2. zouzoou on August 28, 2013 1:19 pm

    Emirates airline has grown to become an arrogant company.
    It is a pity as it used to be such fantastic company.
    Prices om Emirates airline are 20% to 40% more on average which used to be worth it. More and more people are complaining about poor service and arrogance.

  3. haytham zoghby on August 28, 2013 2:39 pm

    Airline technical problems do happen and when airlines delay flights due to technicalities it is always for the sake of safety and responsibility. How many times did crash investigations reveal that a certain technical problem was well know off before a take off?
    We need to understand that Airlines operate within extremely strict rules, ones that cannot be malleable hence, no one wants the captain to snore in his cockpit.

    For the record and for accuracy, Emirates airlines did offer food, though the food was scarce and was ripped off by an angry crowd, a la scavenger style, bu EK also apologized and offered clients 30 k miles as a compensation.

  4. Zouzou on August 29, 2013 2:04 am

    We were not on the same flight. I received no apologies and no miles. I assume Haytham works for emirates or was on a different flight.

  5. Ricardo Ramires on August 29, 2013 10:23 am

    Typical of the current Emirates service.

    Fly Etihad is the only way to teach this arrogant company that the customers that helped build its reputation can also choose a different airline.


  6. julien on August 29, 2013 12:41 pm

    I was on the same flight. it was nightmare completely disorganized. it is a shame that a company like Emirates Airline would handle that way such situation.
    it is not about the technical problem, it happens everywhere, it is how you treat the customers.
    You are right Haytham they served 100 sandwich for a flight with 400 passengers and many mothers with kids. Guess who got the sandwiches? not the mother and kids.
    So yes they could have made a line and give priority to mother and kids, the did not. I clearly remember one of the mother complaining to a certain Joseph that she can not reach the sandwiches. he did nothing. That is the problem. Same for the exit, mother with kids from around 9 oclock at the airport and at 18h00 having to queue to exit the airport in a chaotic queue vs organizing that a priority been given.
    this is only a fraction of the mess. I travel often and have been confronted often to delays and technical the only two times i have seen such a mess was in Africa on at the time Air Afrique.
    So yes this is very bad for emirates airline.
    And to be clear i did not either receive any formal apology nor miles no anything.

  7. Lamia Rassi on August 29, 2013 2:52 pm

    What happened that day on Emirates airlines flight is not acceptable by any means. When we chose to travel on the best airlines in the region we expect to be treated in a descent way (human) even if delay occurred. One of Emirate staff at the airport was shouting at the people.
    I took the second flight 1:30 but also it was delayed by 1h. The same incident happened with my husband last year on Etihad airlines; they offered all passengers’ food vouchers and 700AED ticket voucher.


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