Emirates Ramping Up Efforts To Process Customer Refunds (Will Take Several Months), Dipping Into Cash Reserves


Emirates has decided it’s in their commercial interest to start finally giving people whose flight got cancelled their money back and is mobilizing additional resources.

The company is also dipping into cash reserved in order to overcome this situation and not end up in a cash crunch like other airlines face it at the moment.

Apart from it being very bad on the optics for an airline to withhold customers cash which they will certainly remember in the future, they also have a legal obligation to refund it and it seems Emirates has come to the decision that it’ll be in their best interest to bring up the funds in order to refund passengers who are entitled to refunds.

Emirates has published this decision in their media center today.

Emirates has ramped up its capability to process refunds, reaffirming its commitment to customers and travel trade partners impacted by travel disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With nearly half a million refund requests pending to manage, the airline has taken proactive steps to restructure its backend procedures and boost resourcing to accelerate the processing of refunds. Pre-pandemic, Emirates processed an average of 35,000 refund requests in a month. Now it is gearing up to handle 150,000 per month, and aims to clear its current backlog by early August.

Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “It is a difficult time for us, as it is for all airlines. We are dipping into our cash reserves by being proactive in processing refunds, but it is our duty and responsibility. We would like to assure our customers and trade partners that we will honour refunds, and that we are doing our best to speed things up.

“The situation was dynamic in the early weeks of the pandemic, but we have since re-written our COVID-19 waiver policy into a simple, globally-applied approach that puts customers first. We’ve also proactively contacted those of our customers who had submitted earlier requests for refunds or booking changes, to let them know of the new options available to them.

“We sincerely hope that our customers and trade partners will choose to book and fly with Emirates again at a later time. For those who have opted to hold their tickets or exchange it for travel vouchers, we look forward to welcoming you on our flights again soon. Announcements will be made whenever we are able to resume services.”

The numbers of refunds are likely to go up substantially as well considering Emirates has cleared their entire schedule until July 1st 2020.

Even with the current amount of processing 150,000 refunds per month it will take more than 3 months to clear their logs considering even as of today they have half a million requests to clear. Considering the amount of passenger traffic Emirates has one can imagine that this number will easily double if not more until July.

In 2019 Emirates carried 58 Mio passengers though I’m not sure how they count this number. If it’s passengers per flight then, considering most passengers transit via Dubai on a round trip ticket, would mean 14.5 Mio round trip tickets or 1.2 Million tickets per month.

Consider that number for a moment: They still have 500k refund requests and another 1.2 Million tickets will be eligible for refund each month from now until July (at the earliest). It will take forever to clear this!

How to proceed with a refund request?

Customers who wish to request travel vouchers or refunds can easily do so via an online form on Emirates’ website, or contact their travel booking agent for assistance.

Emirates offers three options to its customers affected by flight cancellations and travel restrictions:

  • Simply keep their existing ticket for up to 24 months, and call to reschedule their flight when they are ready to fly. Emirates has extended this option to apply to any ticket booked on or before 30 June 2020, for travel on or before 30 November 2020.
  • Exchange the unused portion of their tickets for a travel voucher equivalent to the amount paid for their original booking. The travel voucher can be utilised for any Emirates product or service, with no change fees, providing customers more flexibility to reschedule when they are ready to travel again.
  • Refunds. Customers who have opted to keep their ticket or opted for a travel voucher can still apply for a refund, if they are unable to travel. There will be no refund penalties.

Customers who have booked through travel agents should contact their agent for assistance. The same options will apply.

There is absolutely zero reason to opt for a travel voucher when you’re in fact owed a cash refund and I can’t emphasize on this point enough. It’s not the time to apply any misguided sympathy with airlines now and forego a cash refund.

One exception could be if you need your funds for a new ticket purchase in the very near future and a credit would likely be issued much sooner compared to a refund.

Always be loyal to yourself and your own wallet, not an airline who will drop you like a hot potato at their earliest convenience!


I commend Emirates for taking the initiative and informing customer they’re actually “on it” and mobilize additional resources in order to get refunds on the way. It’s good to have at least some time frame especially if cash refunds are involved.

Of course Emirates has more options to dip into reserves and get additional state aid than other airlines considering the direct hotline to the UAE’s decision makers in such a case. They also have substantial financial reserved compared with their competition which has already voiced that unless their governments jump in they would go bust.

Considering airlines such the Big 3 in the U.S. and BA, Lufthansa, Air France in Europe have whined for years and decades over state aid to the ME3 carriers I can’t help but laugh at this situation where they once again creep to their own governments for a bailout.