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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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