Emirates is a highly rated airline and rightfully so. The in-flight experience – for me – has always been a fine one. It is the check-in experience that I experienced recently has me wondering if Emirates is losing its fine touch.
I checked in at Houston to board a flight to Dubai, a direct flight. I was well within my carry-on baggage weight and size restrictions with one exception. I had a second bag – a medical bag with my CPAP machine and medications. My check-in bags were at under a pound each (49 v/s 50 lb). The lady at the check-in counter pointed out that I was only allowed one carry-on bag. I am glad that I had printed out the relevant section from the Emirates website and quietly handed it to her. She looked at it and said that she needed to have her supervisor review it. Wow. Here it was in black & white from THEIR website. Then, the supervisor comes over and asks if I planned on using the CPAP machine on the plane? How was that even relevant? Their policy as mentioned on their website is straightforward. I replied that yes, if possible to use it, I would likely use it.
She then asked me to show her the brand and model information on the CPAP machine. Seriously. She then proceeded to call someone and relay the information. Both my carry-on bags (including the medical bag) were right at 15 lb which is their allowance and met their size requirements. So, why the hassle? Eventually, she reluctantly agreed to let me take both the bags on-board but, informed me that unless I had batteries for the CPAP machine I would not be able to use it on-board as the seats didn’t have the power outlet to plug the device in – a total fabrication as the seat did have the outlet. How the supervisor could not know that given that she was a supervisor and knowing the airplane model is beside me.
Here is where it gets worse. In anticipation of such an unpleasant experience, I contacted the email firstname.lastname@example.org mentioned on the Emirates website. No response. Sent a second email the afternoon of the flight asking for help expressing my concern at check-in. No response. Sadly, Emirates is not the only airline with their check-in staff being oblivious to their own policy. Years ago, I had a similar experience with Lufthansa upon departing from Mumbai (BOM) airport. The gentleman at the check-in counter did not even know what a CPAP machine was and after 45 minutes of goofing around trying to find the information on it reluctantly allowed it leaving it to security if it could be carried on-board.
Is this deteriorating Customer service intended to drive Customers to pay for additional check-in allowance? Not that one would want to check-in medications and critical medical devices on the chance that it could get lost or not arrive on the same flight. Baggage misses the flight or gets lost. Right?
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