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Emirates Airline

Starting out, the Booking Procedure for Emirates is a problem. I spent two hours on their very slow website one afternoon, at the end of which I didn’t actually manage to book even one of our two flights. Why did I continue to bother then? Because they’ve a reputation as a very good airline, and they’re also very good value, so I persevered. 

I emailed their customer service people. The email address bounced. Not very professional at all. 

I managed to get a help desk number to call, not free-phone I’m sad to add so who knows how much they made out of us on the 15 minute call that followed. They couldn’t explain what the online problem was, but they could take my credit card details and confirm that my flight had been booked and paid for. Great, I said, now can I make the second booking? My partner wants to leave on a different date than me, but she needs to be coming back on the same flight. Ah, sighed the operator, that’s a problem; you’ll need to do that online. 

So I went back to the website, spent another hour on there trying to book my partners flights, but again, when it came to paying the website had problems. I had to phone up the help desk again. Only this time they couldn’t help. You can’t pay with your credit card, they said, it has to be in the name of the person taking the flight. So I got my partners card and tried to pay. No good, the operator said, you need to contact her bank. 

So I did. All the time thinking, I’m going to need a holiday after this. The bank said they only declined the card because the Emirates website had tried to take payment incorrectly. So they said to go back to the airline help desk and try again. 

Finally, after another phone call, success!! and we both had our tickets.

But really, however cheap or good an airline is, they really shouldn’t be this difficult to deal with. After the extreme hassle of booking, we thought that the flight had better be amazing in order to make up for it. 

It was very easy check in, no need to get there three hours before, two was fine, even though they say three. Or you can check in online and get there ninety minutes before.

There were free, robust, plastic luggage tags and a gold baggage check ticket - OK, a bit silly but it gave the impression they cared for your bag. You are supposed to pass this gold coupon to the carousel attendants at your destination, who will only let you take your bag if the numbers match (but I was off to India, and there nobody bothers to check anything unless you pay them too, so my gold ticket went in the bin, un-used. Nice idea though). 

My seat number was displayed on my TV monitor so I could identify it easily, and in my headset pack were little stickers to put on the top of my seat that told the attendants to either let me sleep or wake me up for meals and drinks. 

I chose ‘wake me up’ and I’m very happy that I did. The food was really well cooked, the only problem being that I asked for a veggie meal and I got a bit of chicken that had somehow crept in under the rice. This is very normal procedure in much of the world in my experience – it seems everywhere but the West doesn’t count chicken as meat but in a category of it’s own that is acceptable to both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. I’m not a militant veggie though – I’ll eat meat if there’s no other choice at the time – so I ate it all, and it was very tasty.

The drinks flowed, not like on some airlines where they’re reluctant to give you a wine and a short at the same time, and the staff were very friendly – not standoffish at all.

There were hundreds of films and TV shows to choose from, including some decent new releases, and an equal amount of classic albums to listen to. During my Delhi leg of the flight though my screen didn’t work so I lost out then. Another bad thing was that there was no light above the toilets to let you know if they were vacant or not. Seems a basic and silly omission to me. 

So, the basic standard of service on Emirates was good. The fare was good value (around £400 return to Delhi, whilst at the same time the other airlines of a similar standard were charging up to £600), the entertainment great and Dubai airport, where we had our transfers, was a pleasure to visit. What really impressed me about Emirates though was how they dealt with an emergency…

We flew back to England late December. There was snow on the ground and all direct flights to London had been cancelled. but we were routed via Dubai and was able to take off from Delhi. Once in Dubai we had to hang about for a while as a result of our onward connection to London Heathrow being cancelled (in the end though there was only about a 3 hour delay). There was a large desk open especially to deal with our problem and the staff were trying to organise a plane to go to London Gatwick, which isn’t really in London and was therefore still open. We waited along with hundreds of other passengers, and were kept informed constantly of what was going on. A table was set up and loaded with free drinks, sandwiches and cakes; there were no staff there monitoring it, you just took what you wanted (and it was of a very good standard). Emirates offered us a choice of a free hotel in Dubai or a flight to Gatwick, we chose the flight and in the end we got back to England fine, just a few hours late which under the circumstance was wonderful.

If we’d have booked with British Airways, Virgin or any other airline that flew direct to India we would’ve been stranded in Delhi for the next 2 days, with no free hotel, nothing. So we were very happy that we’d persevered with Emirates’ terrible online booking procedure, as when it came to the crunch, Emirates came good for us and really provided great service.

If you want to check out Emirates (it’s worth tolerating their website, believe me!) then please visit www.emirates.com

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