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Sat 5 Feb 2011 01:45 PM

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Emirates apologises after wheelchair passengers left stranded

Airport error sees 35 disabled passengers left stranded in Dubai

Emirates apologises after wheelchair passengers left stranded
PASSENGERS STRANDED: Passengers were left on their plane for an hour after arrival at Dubai International airport from New Zealand

Dubai’s Emirates Airline has apologised after 35 wheelchair passengers, including British athlete Baroness Carys Davina Grey-Thompson, were left stranded for an hour on a connecting flight from New Zealand.

Baroness Grey-Thompson, a British Paralympian and sports commentator, told the BBC she and 34 fellow disabled passengers were left on their plane for an hour after arrival at Dubai International airport from New Zealand as Emirates staff struggled to transport all passengers to the terminal using just one wheelchair.

"You kind of feel you're having your dignity taken away," Grey-Thompson, who has won eleven Olympic gold medals and won the London Marathon six times, said.

She added that, as a result of the delay, some of the passengers missed their connecting flight to the UK.

“Emirates apologises for the inconvenience caused to passengers travelling on flight EK419 from Christchurch to Dubai,” an Emirates spokesperson said.

The statement said “dedicated lifting equipment and ample personnel were immediately deployed as part of the preparation to assist the passengers to disembark but when the aircraft landed there was an unforeseen delay in accessing the passengers' wheelchairs from the aircraft.”

Emirates added it had planned to disembark the passengers using a parking stand but due to a medical emergency on another incoming aircraft it was forced to park the plane carrying Grey-Thompson and transfer passengers to the terminal in a bus.

As a result, there was a delay in accessing the passengers own wheelchairs and an airport wheelchair had to used to transfer the 35 passengers.

“Emirates prides itself on offering passengers with reduced mobility an excellent standard of care. During 2010 alone 360,000 Emirates passengers with reduced mobility were successfully assisted through Dubai International Airport," the statement added.

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mohamed 9 years ago

Nothing new. Wheelchair psgr never received high level of care from EK. My elderly mother traveled with my sister and upon arrival at DXB wheel chair didnt arrive for long time. Requests with the ground staff went ignored. When my sister got upset, the ground staff stated that she was free to complian higher. This was at the peak of the crisis when layoff were happening & the staff may be frustrated and morale down. However, it did not help that we are south asian. The level of discrimination is very obvious. In this article the subjects were British and surprised to see these lower standards have now spilled over. I don't want to leave a complaint without offering a solution. Train your staff to be sensitive. Have best staff on short flights too; not just those who couldnt make the long haul. We do pay more to fly EK than fly other airlines!

Iftikhar F. Kathawala 9 years ago

On my recent flight with my two sons and my wife from Mumbai to Dubai, my son aged 8 years was sick after his meal. Whilst I took my son to the wash room to clean up, my wife repeated requested for help with the clean up of the seat and surrounding areas. Upon my return with my child I found to my dismay no one had attended or helped to clean up. I was further shocked by the negative response from the stewardess on duty at that time. The lack of proper training of the young stewardess was obvious in the face of the issue on hand. Finally I had to go the area where a bunch of air hostess generally congregate to relax and firmly ask for assistance where upon a male steward told me that the best he could do was give me blankets to be put on the seat where there was vomit and spray some room deodorant to diffuse the smell. Is this how airlines handle such situations? Is this what a good airlines high service all about?

Saudi Engineer 9 years ago

Not comparing people to bags in any way, but I wonder how many bags and pieces of luggage were abused through Dubai International Airport.
On my times travelling through DXB my bags have come back dirtier and more damaged than any other airport or airline I've been on. It's not just an Emirates thing, but a DNATA and DXB issue, and unfortunately they are not responsive.

Malik 9 years ago

This is not always the case,my grandfather came to Dubai by Emirates last month and a wheelchair was available for him from the airplane's door till the parking.

RAF 9 years ago

My daughter recently travelled from Melbourne to Dubai on EK407 on 01FEB, a 17 hour direct flight, with her 23 month old baby. When she had requested for a snack for her baby, who was crying, she was rudely told "no seat - no meal" and the crew walked away. She was not asking for a meal, but a snack to comfort the baby. She repeatedly asked several of the crew, who ignored her and never came back. After several complaints and and a very tiring time for the mother and baby, one of them gave the baby a snack. The attitude and arrogance of some the crew is appaling, and again being of Asian decent didnt help.

Sanjay Batheja 9 years ago

I agree with Mohammed. My wife was unwell and we requested wheel chair on time of booking tickets a few days before flying. We got messed up at Dubai and Mumbai both by Emirates. We were flying business class. I can imagine Eco passengers plight.

George 9 years ago

To be frank, you cannot expect that South Asians are given the same treatment as British or other Europeans.

People in the first category generally spend less so treating them well does not really bring any benefits.
Also as Europeans are used to good service levels, they kind of demand and deserve the same.
Asians however, come from backgrounds where customer service is non existent.

sikandar 9 years ago

This is not the first time. My father had to go through the same ordeal when my parents were boarding from Lahore Airport. He went through excrutiating pain as the Airline had not arranged a wheel chair for him.

sunny 9 years ago

@george- stop living in the stone age and don't let your educated and civil race down, school might help if you can afford it

Nick 9 years ago

Why bring race into it?