As many of you know I travelled 29 hours back to Ireland with my 3 girls (5, 3 and 11 months) by myself, back in June. Most people thought I was either brave or crazy. It was tough, I will admit that, but the girls were great and we all made it, tired but happy.
I thought it would be easier travelling back to Brisbane as a family of 5 and all I can say is thank goodness Dave was with us because Emirates turned it into the worst airline experience of our lives – and we’ve been abandoned by Ryanair in France, on the runway, a few hundred kilometres from our intended destination, at night in the snow (so that is saying something!).
Let’s start with the good….. Emirates – the good
- The inflight staff were nice and relatively helpful
- Their A380 was lovely
- They provided a stroller at Dubai Airport
- They gave a soft toy and colouring activities to the girls and provided a pack of wipes and a bib for Little F
Then…. Emirates – the bad
- The kids meals are so full of sugar it’s a disgrace
- Chocolate muffins with cocopops for breakfast, hula hoops and chocolate biscuit with their dinner
- Prior to flying I rang up and asked for sugar-free for my kids, they told me to just remove the treats from their tray – that doesn’t make my solo 29 hour flight any easier
- As Dave and I were booked separately I had to ring numerous times and speak to too many people to try to get us seated together – I shouldn’t have bothered!
And yes…. Emirates – the truly disgusting
I will tell you our story, it’s not a short one but it is a pretty shocking one…… This is quite a long story so I will give you the ‘highlights’ (not the best choice of word) and if you are interested you can read the whole story below (my letter to Emirates). Since returning home I have contacted Emirates to report how we were treated. It took them one month to investigate and reply. You can read their very lacking, inadequate reply below.
- It took 45 hours to get from Dublin to Brisbane
- Along the way we were abused, lied to, shouted at, threatened and ignored by Emirates staff
- Our 3-year-old got travel sick on flight 1 of 2
- We boarded flight 2 (in Dubai) and settled in, only for the Air Hostess to notify us we were being removed from the flight because our daughter was pale and looked unwell
- apparently if her health declined we may have to divert the flight (seriously a travel sick child?!) This seemed like an extreme reaction
- The head of PR promised a hotel and rebooked flights but wouldn’t speak to me – he was very courteous to my husband though
- We were removed from the flight and met by an ambulance crew and taken to the airport doctor who confirmed yes she was fine and we could fly – it’s a pity our flight was already gone and the next flight wasn’t until over 16 hours later!
- The fun started at the transfer desk
- The staff refused to give us a hotel, shouted at me as I was upset with the situation
- They suggested we wait 16 hours in the Departures Lounge
- When we were not happy with the situation, they left us sitting on the tiled floor, where 2 of our children fell asleep as we waited for so long – over 2 hours! They didn’t even get us a chair
- The staff suggested they would rebook our flights for free but no hotel was forthcoming. Why would be have to pay for this experience?! We did not want to get off the plane, we did not miss our flight
- When I asked the Manager for his name he told me he would do nothing for our Family if I pursued asking for the names of the staff at the desk! I asked if he was threatening me, he said I could call it what I liked but he would not help us
- When I tried to ask questions he put his hand up and wouldn’t speak to me, he referred to me as ‘she’ and ‘her’. Of course he had no problem speaking to my husband, a man!
- Eventually after waiting over 2 hours at their desk he organised the hotel. Our poor children were exhausted and asleep on the ground! He told me he had organised it for the sake of my children but not for me – well isn’t that just delightful?!
- I contacted Emirates when I got home, they failed to address what happened at the Transfer Desk instead said that their staff acted according to Company guidelines – I find it shocking to think that threatening behaviour is included in their Company guidelines
- It is scary to think that a family with small children can be left to feel stranded and ‘at the mercy’ of an airline, in a foreign country – very far from home. We felt like we had to do what they said or else we might have been left there
- I’m pretty safe to say we will never fly Emirates again
To my friends and family I ask – would you be happy to fly with Emirates, should we as a family thousands of miles from home have felt threatened and worried that we might not make it home or considering the thousands of dollars we spent with Emirates, should they have been kinder, more understanding and ultimately more respectful? In my opinion – too right they should have been!
Here is my full letter to Emirates
I recently travelled back from Ireland to Brisbane with my family and was truly shocked and horrified with the service and treatment that we received.
We are a family of 2 adults and 3 small children, ages 1, 3 and 5. We travelled to Ireland separately and so found it very difficult to get 4 seats and a bassinet together on the return flight, despite calling a number of times. We were pleased to see we were all seated together when we checked in at Dublin Airport.
Our flight from Dublin to Dubai, EK164 on 4th July at 10.25pm, went relatively well. Unfortunately our 3-year-old, who had been awake all day until the 10.25pm flight didn’t sleep much and was exhausted. It was quite warm on the flight and as we came in to land she got sick. Again, she got sick when we got off the plane – this was due to travel sickness.
We landed in Dubai at 8am local time. Our connecting flight to Brisbane was at 10.40am local time. Once we boarded our next flight our 3-year-old was exhausted, pale looking and not feeling well. She gagged when we got on the flight and we thought she might get sick again but she didn’t. The flight attendant saw this and contacted the medical team in the airport.
The flight attendant returned to us and told us our daughter was not fit to fly and that we must get off the plane.We were utterly shocked. How could a child, who is simply tired and feeling travel sick be unfit to fly?As you can imagine we were not happy. Our children were very upset being told we had to get off the plane and weren’t going home.
We asked could the doctor come see her on the plane but this was refused. We questioned how a doctor could say she was unfit to fly without seeing her. The PR person, Hector, arrived. He would not speak to me, as I was understandably annoyed and would only speak to my husband, which we both found rude and offensive.
We were told our bags had been taken off the plane and we had to get off. Hector told us Emirates would take care of us, would rebook our flights and would put us up in a hotel. We left the plane and met the ambulance crew. The ambulance crew said our daughter looked ok and asked if our bags had already been removed, they seemed surprised that we were asked to leave the plane. The took us to see the doctor in the airport who said our daughter was fine to fly.
At this point the Emirates staff were nowhere to be seen. A member of ground staff took us to the Emirates transfer desk and the staff there knew nothing about our situation. We gave the Transfer desk staff the clearance certificate from the doctor and the staff member told us the next flight was at 2.45am local time (almost 16 hours later), he would rebook us on that flight and we should go wait in the Departure lounge.
I explained we were told we would be put up in a hotel and he said no we were told the wrong information and he couldn’t organise that for us. Considering we had 3 small children and none of this was our fault we could not imagine spending 16 hours in the Departure Lounge. This man was very rude to me and told our family to go wait at the side on the floor.
Another member of Emirates staff asked if everything was ok, I said no and explained the situation. This man said he would help us. We were again left sitting on the floor. This man came back and said unfortunately he could not organise a hotel but he would rebook our flights at no charge to us. He appeared to be implying he was doing this as a good gesture. I was stunned – at what point would we be expected to pay to rebook our flights when Emirates had incorrectly insisted that we get off the plane, we did not want to.
I asked to speak to the Manager and the man just walked off from me and left the desk. I again went back to the Transfer Desk and asked to speak to the Manager, who was oblivious to our situation. Once again (the 3rd time) I explained what had happened. The Manager wanted to know who we had spoken to about the hotel on the plane. At this point I thought it was in my interest to get the names of the staff members I was dealing with if the Emirates staff were going to ask me the names of who I had spoken to. At this stage we had dealt with 5 different members of staff (the flight attendant, PR, 3 transfer desk staff). I was unsure how many more I would speak to.
At this point Emirates service hit an all time low for us. The Manager told me if I pursued asking for staff names he would do nothing for my family. I asked him if he was threatening me and he said I could call it what I wanted but he wouldn’t help us. I was utterly shocked and disgusted with the way we were being treated and how I was being spoken to. We had spent thousands of Australian dollars to fly our family to Ireland and back and we felt like we were being treated like dirt. I explained how we had 3 small children, who 2 of which were now asleep on the cold tile floor. The manager wouldn’t speak to me and would only speak to my husband. He referred to me as ”she” and ”her”. I was shocked at the bad treatment. The manager told me he would try to help us for the sake of my children but not for me.
At no point did we feel like valued customers. My husband even told me we should just do what they say as we were at their mercy in order to get home. Is it right that we felt like that while travelling on your airline in an unfamiliar country? I can honestly say I felt I was being treated badly by the staff as I was a woman. The male staff were all rude to me and civil to my husband.
Finally the hotel was organised, the Manager did apologise but it was way too late for that. 3.5 hours after we were forced to get off the plane (6 hours after landing in Dubai) we got to the hotel. Our children were exhausted. We were left sitting on the tile floor for 2 hours before the hotel was organised. Our children fell asleep on the tiles. I was verbally abused, threatened, referred to as ”her” and ”she” by Emirates staff and on a number of occasions when I tried to ask a question I was ignored.
Finally, when we got on our connecting flight the plane was a smaller plane, we were not seated together, we were split across an aisle and there were no kids meals for our children. Also our skywards miles have not been added to our account. All in all our trip home was so bad that we couldn’t see ourselves flying with Emirates again.
We were not made to feel like a customer, we felt threatened and at Emirates mercy in order to get home. That is not what we call acceptable service. It took us 45 hours to get home from Ireland to Brisbane with 3 small children (through no fault of our own). I would appreciate your reply in this matter.
Ciara and David Hansen
And here is their lacking reply
Dear Ms Hansen,
Thank you for your correspondence submitted Online on 18 July 2016, in regard to your and your Family’s experience at Dubai Airport on 5 July.
Where a passenger has presented as unwell, we do need to ensure that the passenger is fit to continue to travel, so that the conditions of air travel will not be further detrimental to the passenger’s health whilst onboard a long haul flight.
Medlink (which is a medical advisory service for airlines, when onboard medical situations arise) was contacted in regard to your Daughter’s symptoms. Medlink’s recommendation was that you she be offloaded until cleared for travel.
Ms Hansen, the decision to remove a passenger from a flight is not taken lightly as an offload process involves significant co-ordination. However, given the flight duration combined with the cabin environment at flying altitude, in the unlikely event of a medical emergency we would have very little options of diverting to an available airport. Therefore any precautionary measure is ultimately for the safe carriage of the passenger.
We would like to assure you that our cabin crew and ground staff most certainly treated the situation with utmost care and in consideration of the circumstances that were presented to them, and have acted according to company guidelines in this instance.
We refer you to our Conditions of Carriage, which describe in detail these conditions, as well passenger responsibilities with regards to medical expenses, up to and including the requirement to divert an aircraft.
It is always recommended that passengers ensure when taking our travel insurance, that they arrange for the appropriate policy to cover unforeseen expenses on their journey.
Ms Hansen, thank you allowing us the opportunity to respond.
Customer Affairs Australasia