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Emirates / denied boarding

AL, United Arab Emirates
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I would like to highlight the issue I had with emirates airlines in dubai while flying to houston, usa and the way the emirates ground staff have treated me citing 'emirates policy' which I think is casting a poor shadow on the emirates world class customer service and customer appeal.

I think emirates defenitely have to do something about this policy so that they can retain their customer service reputation in this competetive world economy.

I was on a confirmed ticket flying from dubai to houston on 17-apr-2010 (Saturday). The flight was to take off at 9:15 am and I reached well before the time to check-in at terminal 3 in dubai. I had tried to check-in online but emirates had disabled online check-in due to the volcanic ash air issue in europe.

To my surprise - when I arrived at the check-in counter I was told that I am on 'stand-by'. I said that I have a confirmed ticket and why am I put on standby? The staff said it is normal that emirates generally overbooks flights by 10-15% assuming that many people will be a no-show. They said that I will need to wait till other passengers check-in and if there is availability I will be given a seat.

After a long wait - the staff then said that the flight is full and they would give me a complimentary one-way ticket from dubai-houston in exchange.

I have sent a postal mail to their chicago office in which I have said that I would like to know:

1. Why was I denied boarding when other passengers behind me were checked-in? I feel that this is a case of discrimination because passengers behind me (With american or european passport) were given quick check-in and I was denied boarding.

2. I was told that I will get a complimentary one-way ticket from dubai to houston. A couple of passengers who 'accepted' going on stand-by (I was not requested for stand-by - I was jsut told that I am on standby) - the others were getting two-way tickets dubai-houston-dubai and so I asked that why am I only getting a 1-way ticket? They said that it is emirates policy that based on the itinerary we hold we will be compensated. They said that since the other passengers have 2-way tickets they will be provided a two-way ticket and since I hold only a 1-way ticket I will be given only a 1-way ticket. Whereas the trauma that we are going through for being denied boarding is of the same level - we should be recompensed equally. This is another level of discrimination.

3. Finally - I requested that 'give me a travel voucher instead of this ticket because it is of no use because I live in chicago and my home town is bangalore... So dubai-houston is one-leg of my six-leg journey on emirates and buying such a ticket of 5-legs and putting this single dubai-houston leg into the ticket will not reduce my ticket cost. If I get a travel voucher - that will be able to offset my ticket cost for whatever route I choose. They said that they dont have that option.

I am from india and currently residing in usa.In india and in usa - we are not denied boarding unless we are late. If we have a confirmed ticket and the flight is full - we are requested to go on standby. Once when I was flying in india on kingfisher airlines - the airlines called me 6 hours before my flight if I can go on standby and they will give me appropriate compensation. I would call that 'first class customer service'.

What I am have requested from them is to

1. Research this issue and respond to this letter. I would like appropriate compensation because the one-way voucher is uselss to me (I have placed a copy of the voucher)

2. Relook into your policies and make them more user-appealing and customer friendly. You cannot deny boarding to a person without provide appropriate compensation and making them happy. At least I feel that there must be couple of options - say a two-way ticket or a travel voucher. That will make the customers happy.

I had initial plans to report this issue to consumer forums and leading newspapers in chicago but I would like to hear what you have to say about this issue first. I am extremely hurt at the way I have been treated and feel that I am a victim of discrimination.

If any of you have complained to consumer forums or courts in usa - kindly let me know. This cannot go on for ever by emirates.

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