I was going to submit a review of Emirates, but since TA doesn't take reviews of airlines, thought I'd submit a forum post to let people know about the customer service problems I (and others in our group) had on a recent flight to Sri Lanka and Male via Dubai.
In my mind, the most important aspect of an airline is to get you where you’re going, stress-free, without worrying that they won’t honor the ticket, seat or hotel they reserved for you. Here, Emirates cancelled all of my outgoing and returning flights on reservations I had made 6 months earlier, and I had 2-3 layovers each way, so this caused an enormous amount of stress, and was extremely difficult to resolve. I had to deal with this in Dubai, in Colombo in Male, again in Dubai, and even in LAX (where, according to American, Emirates “booked” our reservation back to San Diego, but never “confirmed,” it, so we had no seats, had to fly stand-by, which almost delayed us another 3 hours on the last leg of our trip, when we were anxious to finally get home. In addition, my friend Kathy booked a hotel with them in Dubai, which was on her Emirates reservation, but due to some mix-up on their end, they refused to give it to her, despite her going to at least 9 different Emirates desks in 2-3 airports.
It’s a shame they have such customer service problems, because the experience – once I finally got on the plane and had a seat– was very good. The positives: seats were comfortable and there was more leg-room than average; each seat has its own TV screen w/ hundreds of movies, TV shows and music (new releases and classics) you can watch for free on your own schedule, and internet available (for a fee) on certain flights. Hot towels for all guests, including those in coach – yes, we love hot towels, too. And a complimentary hotel stay in Dubai for those w/ lay-overs over 8 hours (including free airport shuttle and breakfast, lunch and/or dinner buffets, which were actually decent).
Other positives: very tasty meals – went with all curries – the curried potatoes and egg, fish curry (a bit hesitant about airplane fish, but was actually quite good) and lamb kafta – only 2 downsides on the meals: (1) the wine/drinks each time were served some 20 minutes later than the food, so wasn’t able to enjoy some red wine w/ my lamb; and (2) both times, it took a good 40 minutes for them to come through and remove the trays, which is a pain if you want to actually use your tray table during this time.
On the plus side, when they couldn’t find me a seat in coach for our 4 hour flight from Dubai to Colombo, they bumped me up to Business Class. It was my first ever international flight in business/1st class, and it was heavenly. My seat had massage function and fully reclined flat (especially appreciated on a 4 am to 8 am flight). Another one of my friends was also given a complimentary upgrade, and a couple others were offered the opportunity to upgrade for just $160 for that flight, so might not hurt to ask.
Overall, Emirates has a lot going for it, but customer service isn’t one of them – several people in our group had issues where we would expect to hear “sure; no problem, we’ll take care of that or fix that,” but instead, we heard over and over, “no; we can’t help you; try another desk, try at the next airport,” “we’ll try to fix it later,” “no, sorry.” It was extremely stressful and time-consuming just to try to get what we had initially reserved 6 months ago. Based on our experience, I would not book w/ Emirates Air again until I was convinced these pervasive customer service issues have been resolved.
.PS - I submitted a letter to Emirates outlining these problems, and received an unsatisfactory response - essentially telling me that I should have arrived at the airport 3 hours early, and not offering any apology or refund. In fact, I did arrive 3 hours early (and was 6 hours early in Dubai). Even with this amout of time, Emirates was unable to remedy their cancellation of my ticket. That's my primary complaint - when problems come up (and they often do in travel) - Emirates needs to be able to timely fix them.