Are Emirates Business Class passengers getting what they are paying for?

Boundaries separating the different classes on Dubai’s number one airline appear to be blurred, based on one recent experience.
Unfriendly skies? Leading carriers are not immune to customer service blunders.
By Lubna Hamdan
Mon 03 Jul 2017 11:31 AM

Emirates airline did not soar from a two-plane operation in the desert to the world’s largest long-haul carrier by relaxing its grip. Since its inception, it has maintained a strict formula for everything, down to its flight attendants’ pre-authorised shade of crimson lipstick.

Much like Dubai, the home-grown brand prides itself on glamour, prestige and above all: first-class customer service across all its classes. But that just might be one space where Emirates has loosened its grip.

On a recent flight from Dubai to Geneva, I was told I had to be downgraded from Business Class to Economy because the cabin had been overbooked.

After arguing that I had a paid-for seat, I was given two options: either be downgraded to Economy and offered a complimentary ticket anywhere in Europe as reimbursement, or be put on Business Class on the next flight.

Because I was on a scheduled business trip, as many Business Class flyers are, I was unable to opt for the second option and had to be in Geneva by a certain time.

Left with no other choice, I opted for the first option and was told to proceed to the plane, where I would be handed the “complimentary European business ticket”.

Having arrived at the plane, however, no one knew of my situation. Despite repeatedly enquiring about the ticket, I was merely told to “contact customer service upon arrival” at Geneva. There was nothing else the in-flight crew could do to help me.

While it was a frustrating situation, a passenger can understand how even the best carriers can become victims to overbooking faults on the system.

But the surprising aspect is the lack of effort made by Emirates to provide any sort of compensation over the past two months, despite several attempts on my part to get through to its customer service. This poses the question: if Emirates does not put in the effort to keep Business Class passengers happy, what does that say for its Economy Class customers?

Considering Emirates revealed it will introduce Premium Economy in about a year, one can’t help but wonder whether that will further blur the lines between Economy and Business services, and what that would mean for those who pay more to receive Business Class treatment.

My experience with what is one of the world’s leading airlines is proof that even the biggest players are not immune to customer service blunders. But for a name that promises customers will “Dream big in Business Class", Emirates’ might just be in need of a reality check.

Hours before Arabian Business’s print deadline, Emirates responded. I fear, however, it was only because I am a member of the press. What challenges would I have faced if I was not a member of the media?

Statement from Emirates:

“Emirates regrets the inconvenience Ms. Hamdan experienced on her flight from Dubai to Geneva. Emirates places a great deal of emphasis on the high standard of service we offer our customers and we were disappointed to learn that Ms. Hamdan’s expectations were not met. It is never our intention to leave our customers unhappy with the services provided. Our Customer Affairs team will be contacting Ms Hamdan to resolve her issue.”

Editor's note: Emirates' Customer Affairs team has been in touch with the writer to resolve the issue.

 

 

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