I have generally had a pretty neutral experience flying Emirates so far – they do their job, nothing more, nothing less, and they do it well. Which suits me just fine. And which is why when it was time to plan a long-haul journey across continents, I chose Emirates over a couple of other options. They are efficient, had good connections to my destination, and while not the cheapest, they were reasonably priced, not least because I was booking 5-6 months in advance.
The trouble started when I decided to upgrade to Business Class given the length of the journey. I had booked my tickets from their website and headed there to “manage my booking”. All the sectors for my dates were showing as available, a fare difference was shown, which I accepted and proceeded to book. However, after I entered my credit card information, I got a message saying, “Sorry the modification to your booking failed – please contact your local Emirates office.”
After multiple calls to the local Emirates offices, emails and tweets, the end result was that the airline simply refused to acknowledge the fare I was being shown on their website (not just on that day but for many days thereafter which I kept supporting with screenshots), and therefore refusing to honour the same. So my only option was to accept a much higher fare from their call centre although their website consistently showed a lower fare. Not only that, every executive I spoke to cooked up some different story (excuse) for not being able to upgrade my ticket at the fare shown on the website.
As a result, I simply canceled my ticket and booked it on another airline. And all this when I was actually seeking to GIVE Emirates MORE money. Here’s a summary of the kind of cock-and-bull they tried to feed me at various times:
1. “The reason you are not able to book online is because those seats/fares are no longer available for one of your sectors. Its perhaps showing available on the website but not in our system.” I checked again, the same time, later in the day and then again a few days later, the same sectors and fares were still available.
2. In another call on the same day, another executive categorically says both, the website as well as the call centre front-ends access the same reservation system so there was no question of availability or fares being different. And yet he was not seeing the same fare!!! He asks me to send screenshots of my fares and my failed booking which he forwards to the Dubai office. They revert in a couple of hours saying that unless a reservation is completed they cannot honour a fare. And since my reservation did not go through, they cannot give me the same fare. I tried to argue that the reservation failed because of their system, not because of any problem with my card or entry details, but to no avail.
3. Another person on another day, asks me to try “after some time”. I do so to humour him, as much as to get my ticket. But failed for the same reason again. So yet again, although the two systems are the same, they keep showing different fares. Or so Emirates tells me, perhaps just to avoid giving the correct fare? In fact they are available as on the date of this blog post, a good 3 weeks after my tussle with the airline.
4. Here are screenshots of my conversation with Emirates on Twitter, after a frustrating week on the phone with their call centre.
Not sure what kind of a templates response this is!! He’s just repeating my problem!! And the nonsense he call centre has already told me which is why I am writing on twitter in the first place!!!
No explanation or even regret for website and back-end fares being different!!
Even if I give the benefit of doubt to Emirates that there may have genuinely been some system issue, what has really appalled me is to see that they are not seeing that a customer (a frequent flyer who is looking to spend more money, no less) is facing a genuine issue and making any effort to solve the problem – investigate why there is a difference and offer a coherent explanation, make an executive decision and offer me the website fare which they can clearly see I am not making up, or at the very least acknowledge that I am facing a genuine problem. All their conversations are so defensive, their tone almost seems “we have no clue nor do we care what you’re talking about. Here’s what we have to offer, take to or leave it!”
I chose to leave it – for at least as long as I am not compelled to fly Emirates!