Thursday 6 September 2018

I nearly lost my Emirates ticket home!

As you know, I paid 2300 euros for BCN/DXB/BKK/HKG/BCN business saver class. The booking says 100 euros to change a flight. Quite unambiguous. I am sure you can understand the airport codes. But I have to admit it was a pretty good price, with so many stop-offs.

While I was in Penang, I attempted to change my BKK/HKG sector in order to give myself 5 days in Bangkok before going on to Hong Kong. Easy? When I saw the charge, I almost fell off my seat! 650 euros. That’s more than the business class one-way BKK/HKG.

Several phone calls later, it seems there is some convoluted calculation going back to BCN. But unless they tell me at the time of booking........ ?? Consumer laws spring to mind. Or any laws.

But I didn’t want to go back to Penang and then go directly to HKG, I wanted more time in BKK. Miss the flight? Not an option! Then I would have lost my HKG back to BCN, imagine it!! Wiped out by a heartless computer in Dubai.

So, after a 40 min phone call, some senior guy at Emirates cancelled officially my BKK/HGK - “as an exception”, hey big deal!! No refund - but retained my HKG/BCN to get me home which was obviously causing me huge anxiety. This was Sunday night, getting rather tight. So I had to buy a new ticket for the next day, economy class because I didn’t feel inclined to buy a ticket which I already hold. 100 euros for phone calls, 170 euros for the flight which I already paid for.

If I hadn’t obtained this “unofficial” change, my choice would have been either to stay in BKK and lose my HKG/BCN or take the booked flight on Monday and forego BKK. And people get upset about 5 euros for priority boarding on Ryanair. Just try being in the Far East with a serious danger of losing the return ticket.

Here is a letter which I wrote when I got home in Spain.

Stephen Brown
17460 Celrà
Spain                                                                                                  16th January 2016

Dear Dr Ben Khedher,

Thank you for my Blue Skywards card EK 494 146 973 which I just received in the post. May I ask you two questions which, despite the exchange of many emails with the Skywards office, have not been answered? So please don’t forward this letter to them. I get nowhere and I am frustrated by standard replies such as “it depends on the class of travel” when I have made it clear which class I am talking about.

During my journey ref HHSKIF (Business Saver) in November 2015, I attempted to change one sector, from Bangkok to Hong Kong. There were seats available in the flight I chose on November 20th. But instead of the advertised 100 euros, I was quoted between 600 euros and over 1000 euros. That is more than the Business Class one-way BKK-HKG.

I was told that there is a calculation which went right back to my origin of Barcelona but no one has explained the formula. I was told that it was all there in the small print and I am sure it is. Lots of small print at Emirates, even in newspaper ads!

I nearly lost my return sector from HKG to BCN which scared me despite my being an experienced traveller (many times LHR-DXB with Emirates way back to when you first started). I spent 100 euros on a phone call with Contracts Dept to erase the sector (“as a special case”) and, of course, I had to make a new booking for 20th November which cost me 180 euros. The A380 was half empty, lots of space.

So, for a future booking, how am I expected to know what this charge could be if not even your own staff can explain it? And surely to write “100 euros” on the website to change a flight is not legally correct. It should be “from 100 euros”.

So that is my first question.

My second is this:

Later this year I want to book: BCN – BKK – HKG – BCN in Business Saver.

But when I make the booking, I want the flexibility to change HKG – BCN. But I have no way of knowing what the cost will be. 100 euros? Very unlikely. Maybe 600, maybe over 1000 euros as with my previous experience. The stock answer is that there are blocks of seats in the Business Class cabin for each class of Business Class – I know all about that. And the numbers can change any time further to add to the confusion.

So, where do I go from here? How can I be expected to make a reservation which is currently showing as 2695 euros (Nov 2016) when it could end up being 3695 euros?

Yours faithfully,