I am writing regarding my family’s recent experience attempting to go on holiday. Our family holiday that we had been planning for over 5 months was completely ruined by the negligence of Emirates and incorrect advice given to me by the travel agent.
A few weeks after booking and paying for our holiday tickets and some accommodation (approximately mid April) we went to the travel agent that we used and asked about visas required for our trip, we advised that we were planning to travel overland from Thailand to Malaysia and then to Singapore and then again returning to Bangkok. We were advised that no visas were required for my wife as she was on a Fiji passport, we specifically asked about my Wife’s passport. As we did visit the agency some weeks later and we also asked (about the visas required), we took it for granted that their advise was correct. I also phoned Emirates and asked their advise regarding a Visa to Thailand, and was told it was not necessary on a Fiji passport for a visa for Thailand. I also phoned EMIRATES before our departure and faxed through our passport copies, we were told this was normal procedure, EMIRATES had knowledge that my wife was traveling on a Fiji passport for many months. I asked EMIRATES if my wife needed a visa, and I was told no visa required.
We had booked accommodation, paid for some of it. We had paid for transfers, airline tickets, train tickets, changed currency and purchased travel insurance.
On our departure I checked in online and a question regarding Advanced Passenger Screening came up, I entered the passport details and thought that everything was fine. I know what APS is, it is when the carries must check that the person entering the country must have the correct documentation. So when we checked in at Emirates Auckland Airport and nothing was mentioned by check in staff, I actually thought everything was fine. If we had been denied boarding I would have understood.
We had a very good flight over, and we must say that the service on the flight from AKL – SYD was exceptional. The food was excellent, the range of drinks offered good. I did not find the cabin cramped or seats any narrower than Air NZ (whom we travel frequently on). The ICE system was excellent and the crew were all friendly and helpful.
Things went wrong when we arrived in Bangkok, the immigration girl said we ‘need visa for Fiji passport’ and ‘no come Thailand’, I said that the travel agent said we did not need visa. We were taken to the immigration section and I explained that we were here for a holiday and showed them out tickets to Malaysia and Singapore. We asked if we could apply for a visa now we were here. We were given no answer. We were taken to the immigration supervisor (I think) and processed with a Chinese passport holder. We explained our planned trip and showed the tickets (again) and asked if we could apply for a visa. We were told to wait for Emirates staff. I THOUGHT THAT AS WE WERE CUSTOMERS OF EMIRATES THAT THE STAFF WOULD BE OF ASSISTANCE TO US, but NO. As the staff entered the office they greeted the immigration supervisor and completely ignored us. They told us that my wife was to be returned and I informed them as we had a baby with us we would not be separated. As a customer of Emirates we THOUGHT that they would be there to assist us, they were no help at all, they would not interpret to the immigration person when I asked, when I requested that the supervisor see me, he refused. Only when I asked ‘who shall I sue?’ did the supervisor speak to me over the phone, distancing EMIRATES from my problem, saying it was the problem only of the Auckland EMIRATES staff and that he could do nothing for me. Onboard the aircraft the announcements referred to Emirates Award Winning Service, there was no service for us on the ground at Bangkok. The Chinese national was seen by the Air China representative and given entry into Thailand, we were not given entry. The EMIRATES staff in Bangkok were of no assistance to us at all, saying it was all Auckland’s problem and not their problem. I explained to them that it is the same company and it is their problem. I am disgusted with the ground service in Bangkok on EMIRATES, all ground staff were completely useless and unhelpful, with the exception of 2 members. The first one being a young boy who was on the international transfer desk that day, he was as helpful and apologized about our bag loss, he was genuinely helpful. The other girl who was mildly helpful was the girl who apologized for losing our pram, but not for the predicament that the airline put us in.
My wife was detained, we were not offered to be put up in the Airport hotel, this was only offered after I confirmed it with a staff member in Auckland, and by that time we had spent over 9 hours in the Airport. We had an immigration and security personal with us constantly. We were treated like common criminals, when in-fact we were genuine tourists that wanted to contribute to the local economy.
Our bags were searched at the cabin bag screening point – when I had asked EMIRATES staff to check them in for me, I was accused of being a THIEF as we were given 2 packs of baby amenity kits and we had put them in our suitcase and our suitcase was bought to the hand luggage screening point, then I lost my ‘rag’ as the screening people called the EMIRATES staff to check my suitcase, I then explained – with voice raised, that EMIRATES had checked my wife in without checking her documentation and we had been in detention, and now on top of everything we were being accused of being thief’s, because we took what the airline had given us. Even when the airline staff came over to the screening point the screener tried to accuse us of stealing airline ‘property’ it was only when our guard stepped in and explained our side of the story to EMIRATES staff that they waived us through.
We were waiting for our bags to go onto the aircraft at the gate, the EMIRATES staff did not do anything until I insisted that the bags be stowed in the hold, then I had to check the tag receipt numbers were correct. Due to the fact we had not had any sleep in about 42 hours, I did not check the tag destination, only that the numbers matched. If I had not done that we may have never seen those bags again. On arrival in Auckland our bags were missing. Also lost from AKL – BKK was our baby pram. My Wife and I had to carry our child everywhere in Bangkok Airport.
We were frog-marched through the Airport in front of our peers, with deportation papers stapled to the outside of a large A4 envelope for everyone to see. We were absolutely HUMILIATED in front of everyone. In Sydney we were assisted and guarded every step of the way by staff – like a criminal. Why did this happen? Because we were given wrong advise regarding visas by the travel agent and EMIRATES. EMIRATES should have denied us boarding at Auckland, but due to their negligence we have lost out on our holiday.
We were not offered an upgrade on the return flight, even though we asked. We were offered 4 seats across the middle all the way to Auckland – BUT GUESS WHAT?? When we got back on the Aircraft at Sydney, there was someone sitting in one of the seats in that row. DISGRACEFUL! We were even paged when we got back to Auckland. The cabin crew did not have the discretion to look up the passenger list to find us, they just called out our names. DISGRACEFUL.
We have NEVER EVER been so ABSOLUTELY HUMILIATED in our lives. Even when my wife and I were accused of have a marriage of convenience by the New Zealand Immigration Service 11 years ago, they did it with some form of dignity and we were never treated this badly.
We are truly disappointed, distressed and humiliated regarding the way we were treated by EMIRATES staff with the exception of 1 person in Auckland. Our long haul trip and last planned long haul holiday for some years has been COMPLETELY RUINED by the negligence of EMIRATES check in staff and advise given us.
What we expected from EMIRATES is full compensation for what we had lost. If we were denied boarding in Auckland I would have changed the flight dates by a few days (costing $100NZD per change per ticket) and we would have applied to the Thailand Embassy in Wellington for a Visa. The $100 per ticket is what I am prepared to concede. EMIRATES have accepted that they were wrong to let my wife board the aircraft to fly to Bangkok. This they have accepted as they have had to pay a 20,000 baht fine. EMIRATES and their check-in staff are liable for costs incurred by us.
Our complaint to EMIRATES took 7 weeks to process and they offered us nothing. They are disgraceful. If I treated my guests as these people treat their customers I would be out of business with in 6 months.