Compensation Clinic: Emirates

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This weeks Compensation Clinic case comes from an email that I received from a reader this week seeking my advise. I will have my thought on the Conclusion part.

Compensation Clinic Emirates

Remember that you can always email me, Tweet me or send a message via Facebook about the compensation issues that you have had with travel providers.

READ MORE: Compensation Clinic: United Airlines Munich – Washington Dulles Bump

Here’s the email from the reader:

I discovered your website a couple of weeks back and wow, amazing. Thank you very much for the awesome work and all the tips, great job!

I contact you today to get your advice on a series of issue I have had with Emirates the past two years. FYI, my wife was travelling with me everytime and we are both Skyward Silver.

We don’t travel much with Emirates as we spend most our time in Greater China. However, this series of issue has been…annoying…I love Emirates, yet I hate them for their customer relation.

FYI, attached is a long letter I wrote to Thierry Antinori. The original was in French, this is a quick translation. After this letter I received a “goodwill compensation” of 25.000 miles. My wife received nothing. She wrote to Emirates regarding this situation (in September). Absolutely no answer up to now…

Question: what do you think of the situation? the compensation? how to deal with my wife’s situation

Thank you very much for your help!

Sept. 15, 2014

Dear Sir,

First and foremost I would like to thank you, you and your teams, for the incredible in-flight experience Emirates delivers to its passengers. I cannot find enough words to describe the level reached by your crews, the comfort of your fleet or the excellence of your IFE. As you might understand, I am a big fan of Emirates.

I could write pages to congratulate Emirates. Unfortunately, what forces me to write you today is far less idyllic. Indeed, if Emirates delivers an absolutely perfect experience both in-flight and in its lounges, I discovered at my expense things are extremely different when it comes to dealing with the unplanned events which can affect one’s journey with Emirates.

Below you will find the details of our last incident with Emirates. Unfortunately, it is not the only one and every time Emirates customer affairs answer is the same: it’s not our fault, thank you for flying Emirates. Frankly speaking, this is not worthy of an airline who says it delivers exceptional service even in Economy class.

The following pages will also relate, in detail, other incidents on Emirates. Incidents for which Emirates has always claimed it was not its responsibility. It is a relatively long and dense report, but Emirates is the one to blame for this.

February 2014 incident

02/22/2014: Departure from CDG delayed 3 hours and 20 minutes (EK074), the reason given being weather conditions in DXB.

02/23/2014: Arrival at DXB late 3 hours 10 minutes (EK074), our connecting flight is EK306. However, DXB is totally overcrowded and there is absolutely no operation adaptation to his crisis situation. When we reach our gate for flight EK306, the airport staff tell us they just closed the gate. Emirates ground staff finds us a seat on the next flight, EK308, 8 hours later and on a B777: we deliberately chose A380 flights, which tend to be slightly more expensive, yet no offer or compensation was given by Emirates staff.

02/24/2014: EK308 lands in PEK with 1 hour and 30 minutes delay on its schedule. We cumulate about 10 hours of delay. One of our four pieces of checked baggage is missing. It is an oversized baggage, a paper tube containing documents of little financial value but great professional value. A first claim form is filled in at PEK relevant service.

02/26/2014: PEK staff in charge of missing baggage contacts me to inform me that my luggage is still missing. I then contact Emirates through the dedicated online claim form (Emirates Ref No: DXB/X/260214/removed).

03/02/2014: Yet another claim form requested by PEK T3 baggage claim office (t3baggage_bgs@sina.com)

03/09/2014: First contact from Emirates regarding all the incidents on this flight. The claim’s reference changes to DXB/X/JS/260214/removed. Below is Emirates answer regarding the missing baggage.

“With regard to your missing baggage, your claim has been referred to our Central Baggage Tracing office at Dubai airport for extensive tracing to be conducted. Once the bag is found, you will be informed and the bag will be restored to you. In the event the bag is not located, you will be informed once the tracing process is completed.”

05/20/2014: After two months in the dark without a single contact from Emirates, I take the initiative to write directly to customer affairs customer.affairs@emirates.com, (Our Ref. DXB/X/JS/260214/removed). This mail has never ever been answered. Please note that I successfully used this direct contact in the past, for congratulation emails.

07/15/2014: I go in person to my local Emirates office for a new reservation and to mention the total absence of contacts from Emirates since March 9th (more than 4 months) regarding my missing baggage. The local staff is extremely puzzled by my situation and contacts Emirates Dubai’s office with me in CC.

08/01/2014: Still nothing from Emirates. I take the initiative to contact Beijing office via email to thank them for their help and signal the silence from Dubai.

08/04/2014: Emirates Beijing contacts me back, telling me they contacted Dubai again on August 1st following my email and they want to know if Dubai finally replied. I answer the same day and tell same I still face the same silence from Dubai. Right after, Beijing’s office now contacts Emirates CASA through yet another channel still placing me in CC.

08/19/2014: Almost 6 months after the incident, still no answer from Emirates. I write yet another time to Beijing’s office, which yet another time writes to Emirates CASA with me in CC.

08/20/2014: I receive an email from PEK T3 baggage claim service (not from Emirates). Below is its content:

We are very sorry for your lost. We got authorization from CASA. We are pleased to offer you EUR10 as the final payment. Please let me know if there is any doubt.”

Wrap-up: 10 hours delay, paid for front seats on A380 ends up on non-reclinable rear seats on B777, lost baggage, 6 months fighting with Emirates. Result? Emirates dodges the delay invoking force majeure, total absence of answer from Emirates regarding the missing baggage and, even worst, Emirates does not even contacts me directly but uses PEK T3 service to offer me a EUR10 refund.

Is this a way to treat its passengers? Do you think it is a respectful behavior? Satisfied passengers are your best ambassadors, is that a way to treat them?

September 2013 incident

09/10/2013: Departure from DXB with almost 1 hour delay (EK306). The flight will finally land in PEK with a 1 hour 15 minutes delay. At our staggering surprise at arrival, and opposite to the usual operations, the Economy class was released before Business and First. We end up queuing for immigration behind more than 400 passengers. This step, which is usually very fast travelling Business will take us more than 1 hour this time.

Yet another surprise once we finally arrive in front of the baggage belt: no sign of the Business class baggage. This will be delivered at last, after all Economy baggage, about 1 hour and a half after we landed.

This incident, second in 2013 while travelling Business on Emirates with my wife, is the one that will decide us not to pay for a service that is not delivered. More than the incidents themselves, the decision comes from Emirates’ way of answering them: it’s not our fault, thanks for flying Emirates.

February 2013 incident

02/20/2013: Departure from CDG delayed 1 hour (EK074). Approaching DXB our flight is put in a waiting circle. The in-flight PA says we missed our landing window and now are in the middle of DXB’s rush-hour. Therefore we have to wait for another window.

02/21/2013: We finally land 2 hours 30 minutes later than scheduled, with an extra landing / take-off for refuel at another airport in between. We then need to rush through the airport to catch our connecting flight. I take this opportunity to mention that one of the interests of flying Emirates is to cut a long-haul flight into two shorter flights and enjoy either shopping or lounge relaxation at DXB airport.

When we reach the boarding gate, our files have already been deleted from the flight. Ground staff then works as fast as possible to re-register us for flight EK306 and get our seats back. We end-up being able to board at the same places we booked online.

This flight will also land late in PEK, about 45 minutes delay. New surprise: no sign of our baggage. We then go to PEK T3 baggage claim service. After a couple of calls, we are told that our baggage are on the next flight which will land in 7 hours. We had the option to get baggage delivered to our home the day after but needed to make a detailed list of our belongings in the baggage: this was Chinese New Year period, which is the most intense time of the year for thefts. You will understand we refused this service and chose to come back to the airport to pick our baggage.

02/22/2013: I write to Emirates through customer.affairs@emirates.com in order to report these numerous issues.

02/26/2013: Emirates replies and ask me to wait for the internal investigation to be completed. DXB/X/270213/removed

03/02/2013: I contact Emirates yet another time for missing miles: the DXB-PEK segment is shown as not flown and miles are not credited.

03/03/2013: First answer from Emirates, regarding missing miles. I am told, quite abruptly, that this is normal since I didn’t fly that segment (yet I explained the situation in my claim). It will require me 5 emails and the scan of my boarding cards for someone to take my claim seriously!

03/04/2013: Missing miles are credited.

03/07/2013: Emirates replies regarding the missing baggage. I will spare you the tortuous speech of customer affair and go to the essential of your team’s answer: we are sorry, it is not our fault, thank you for flying Emirates.

This February 2013, first experience with Emirates for my wife, made her quite reluctant in my choice of flying Business with Emirates between France and China. The following September 2013 incident while flying Emirates Business class made her take the choice of not paying for Business anymore if it was with Emirates. She believes the service paid is, overall, not delivered.

To synthetize Emirates general answer to incident, it is a combination of lame excuses, EUR10 payment not even proposed directly but through a third party and absolutely no display of good will.

My wife and I, as Emirates passengers and Skyward members, we find Emirates behavior very insulting and reflecting a total lack of interest for its passengers. If flying was to be only about moving from A to B, we would certainly not fly Emirates. Who would actually?

Sir, you worked for Air France and Lufthansa, you know as much as I do that these two airlines treat their passengers very differently. What is the answer from an Emirates executive regarding your company’s customer relation policy?

Thank you very much for your attention and the time you devote me.

Conclusion

I have said it before and I say it again (and probably will in the future too) that all these gulf airlines are wonderful once in the air and if nothing goes wrong. You are on your own if there are any disruptions for your travel and only the fittest survives.

There just isn’t any common sense when it comes to the customer service. These personnel handling these claims come from poorer Arab countries and from South East Asia that just doesn’t have culture of compensation for the problems that the businesses cause.

The reader received 25,000 Skywards miles for the issued he had and his wife received nothing.

I doubt that anything will change before people start more openly complain about the issues with Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

The reader asks what is the best way he can get compensation for the issues that he endued? The only customer service channel for these airlines is the court. I have a case going on with the Emirates right now that I will post about once I have the ruling from the judge, whether I lose or win.

The reader can sue Emirates for the value of the items that he had on the luggage that went missing. For the other two cases, he wouldn’t get anything in the court.

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