Reader Question: How To Get Emirates To Keep Their Promise?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email regarding an unfortunate situation they have with Emirates where the airline is not keeping their promise.

Emirates Compensation

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I am contacting you today to get your advice on a recent issue I have had with Emirates. While detailed email is below , I am giving your the short description. 

Issue :  On Dec 31st 2016 – our Flight from Delhi-Dubai was delayed by 3 hours due to that we missed the connecting flight to JFK. At Dubai Airport – there were not many agents at Emirates counter to help approx ~40 passenger who missed their connections and all were in Q to get their next flights. After waiting for 9 hours in Q, when we reached the counter – we were informed that Emirates does not have any seat in direct flight to JFK for next three days and after along search – they gave us only option to 3 legged flight to Washtington DC and asked us to make our own arrangements from DC – JFK and assured that Emirates will reimburse us for the expenses. I asked them to give us some vouchers so we can claim the expense – they mentioned that they have every thing in the system and that Emirates would honor its commitment when we write to them.  

I submitted my expense for two passenger in Jan2017 to Emirates Customer relations. To my surprise – I got  a note below that they will not honor the reimbursement. 

Question: Although you can see my reply below to their refusal to reimburse, I would like to know if you could advice something else that could be done to claim the money.

Here’s reply from the Emirates:

Thank you for taking the time to complete the online feedback form dated 15 January 2017.

On behalf of Emirates, please accept my sincere apologies for the delay encountered on flight EK515, from Delhi to Dubai, on 31 December. As you are aware the aircraft scheduled to operate this flight was delayed due to the late arrival of the incoming aircraft and Air Traffic Control (ATC) requirements. A report from our Airport offices shows that the computerised records indicate that the flight was delayed by 03 hours and 04 minutes.

Mr REMOVED, although every effort is made to achieve on-time departures, which is an integral part of our product, there are occasions when flights are delayed/cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. The safety and security of our customers and staff is of paramount importance to Emirates, and we are sure you will concur with this position.

Nevertheless, I apologise for the inconvenience experienced by you on this occasion. 

May I take this opportunity to explain that the minimum connecting time between two Emirates flights at Dubai International airport is set at 75 minutes. This is to ensure smooth transfer of passengers and baggage between the two aircrafts, and to this end our reservations team rebooked you for travel on the next flight EK053, from Dubai to Munich, and onwards on LH9280, from Munich to Washington, on 02 January. I note that you were provided with a complimentary hotel accommodation for your extended stay in Dubai.

I further understand from your email that you had to incur expenses towards your travel from Washington to Newark and are looking at a reimbursement towards the same.

As a customer focused business we take no pleasure in seeing our passengers disappointed. Therefore as a gesture of goodwill, without prejudice or admission of liability, I am pleased to arrange a credit of 50,000 goodwill miles to your Emirates Skywards account.

Regrettably, we will not be able to offer any monetary reimbursements as requested by you. May I respectfully request you to contact your Travel insurers for assistance with your claim.

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to detail your experience and for bringing to our attention, those aspects of our service that did not meet your expectations. Although we cannot change what has occurred, I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the events that you have detailed are not indicative of the level of service that we strive to offer our customers.

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to review this matter and we look forward to the pleasure of welcoming you aboard Emirates again soon.

Here’s the further reply from the reader:

Thank for acknowledging that we had to go through a lot of trouble due to this missed connection.

Please note here that when we stood in line for 9 hours in Dubai for new flight, Emirates Agent informed that there were no seats available in any direct flight to New York (which was our final destination) for next three days and that only earliest available flight was to Washington, DC and Emirates WILL re-reimburse us for Washington-New York leg. This is totally unfair and unacceptable that Emirates is now refusing to what was committed by agent in Dubai. 

Please also note that this reimbursement is for wrong destination (Washington) while our original destination was JFK and not for hardship we had to go through. We understand that sometime due to weather condition these things happen as we agreed to take 3-legged flight (Dubai – USA) to a wrong destination. This was only done as we were assured by the Emirates Agent at Dubai Emirates will reimburse the cost for Washington-Newark when we reach US. I even asked for some kind voucher and Emiratesagent pointed us to your LOGO behind the counter and told us that we are “Emirates” and we have every record in the system to know what went wrong and hence there is no need to for any voucher. 

I also stress and it is important to note that Emirates has always been our preferred Airline for myself – REMOVED, My 68 yrs old mother – REMOVED) although we have multiple choice including direct flights to JFK.with other Airlines and we strongly believe that Emirates will honor the commitment made to re-reimburse cost for two passengers ~ USD 800. 

It is rather ridiculous having to stand several hours behind passengers to get rebooked on Emirates. You would think that this would be mostly automated by now?

It is not uncommon for these gate and other airline agents to be less than honest just to you out of their way, however unethical this might be.

Although Emirates states that they don’t acknowledge any wrongdoing here, they wouldn’t be willing to issue 50,000 Skywards miles merely for delay. The person probably went through the file and saw the comments but is not authorized to reimburse the costs involved.

Note that you will only reimbursed for the direct costs. The airline may give you some miles for the inconvenience part.

I would open a case with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection unit (you can do it online here) and it will then go to someone higher up at the Emirates side. If the reader lives in the United States, he can easily sue Emirates at the small claims court in case DOT complaint is not enough to resolve the issue.

Conclusion

This sounds very similar what I had to go through with Emirates few years back when I was twice involuntarily downgraded from paid first class to business. It took a long time and effort to get Emirates partially honor what was originally promised.

As I have said numerous times before and you will hear this from me over and over, there is no customer service with any of the ME3 (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways). When everything goes as planned, it can be wonderful experience. In case when something goes wrong, however, it is entirely different story…..

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