Emirates flight failings

This item appears on page 26 of the February 2012 issue.

I am writing in regard to Emirates flight EK225 on May 31, 2011, from Dubai to San Francisco, on which I was a passenger in economy class. During this 15½-hour flight, I saw the flight attendants come around on only two occasions with water and juice, once on my side of the aisle and once on the other side of the aircraft. Three hours into the flight I still hadn’t received my headset. It took three requests of three different attendants to finally get one.

Toilet tissue and paper towels on the floor of the “more usable” bathroom for much of my Emirates flight. Photo by Kathryn Jones

I was served a meal without an entrée on the tray. (A gentleman in the row ahead of me also didn’t receive one.) The flight attendant said she would bring it. I waited patiently, then, about 15 minutes later after I’d eaten everything else on my tray, I started ringing the call button. This went on for at least another 10 minutes until I stood up and motioned to a flight attendant in the rear of the cabin. I did finally get my entrée. Having had wine with crackers and cheese before the meal, I asked for additional to have with my meal. It never came. However, I felt these complaints were minor compared with another issue. Toilet tissue and paper towels were literally knee-deep in one of the aircraft’s restrooms; a facing restroom was still somewhat usable. In addition, toilet tissue was tracked through the aisle of the aircraft, possibly compromising passengers’ health. The only time trash was collected was at the end of the flight as we approached San Francisco. I had flown Emirates once before, from San Francisco to Dubai on April 27, 2011. I found that experience to be satisfactory. This latest flight, however, showed how important the crew is to the experience of overseas travel. On this occasion, it fell far short of my expectations. I’m a member of Emirates’ Skywards club and, via the airline’s website, I sent in my complaints about this flight on June 6. After not receiving even a generic acknowledgment of receipt, on June 10 I submitted a copy of my complaint to the office of Aviation Consumer Protection & Enforcement, US Department of Transportation (Washington, DC; 24-hour phone, 202/366-2220). I then received an answer from Emirates stating that they would look into my complaint. A letter dated June 14 included an apology and credited my Skywards mileage account with 15,000 miles, which, in my opinion, is a joke. They could have credited me 50,000 miles and I wouldn’t fly with them again. In all my years of international travel, this was, by far, the filthiest and least enjoyable flight I have ever experienced. KATHRYN JONES Silverdale, WA


ITN sent a copy of her letter to Emirates (55 East 59th St., Fifth Floor, New York, NY 10022) and received the following reply:


We would like to again express our sincerest apologies to Ms. Jones for her experience on board flight EK225 from Dubai to San Francisco. At Emirates, quality customer service is at the heart of our operation, and we are committed to delivering the very best passenger experience, both on the ground and in-flight, for the 114 cities we serve around the globe. Regarding the conditions of the in-flight bathrooms, Emirates would never look to compromise the health and safety of our passengers in any way, and we have taken with the utmost seriousness the details of Ms. Jones’ complaint. In reference to the alleged behavior of the cabin crew, we were very disappointed to learn that on this specific occasion, certain individuals appear to have fallen short of the high standards we set ourselves. In both instances, the details of the complaint have been forwarded to the senior manager of in-flight services for review, and appropriate action will be taken. Emirates values all passenger feedback extremely highly, and it is routinely used to assist us in our ongoing staff-training efforts, as we seek to further improve our service. We have credited Ms. Jones’ Skywards account with 15,000 miles, in the hope that should she choose to fly Emirates in the future, we will be able to demonstrate the seamless and courteous customer service and highest standards of cabin comfort and cleanliness that we pride ourselves on. MICHAEL A. COLICCHIO, Manager, Customer Affairs & Service Audit - USA, Emirates