Emirates told to pay customer more than $12K over claim it sold a business class experience which “did not exist”

Emirates told to pay customer more than $12K over claim it sold a business class experience which “did not exist”

Emirates has paid a New Zealand passenger A$12,654 following a ruling from the New Zealand Disputes Tribunal.

Mark Morgan challenged the airline over the standard of its business class features, claiming product on his flight to London did not match those used in advertising by the airline.

Emirates frequently uses its Airbus A380 aircraft in its advertising, but Morgan’s flight took place on an older Boeing 777-300.

Emirates B777 Business Class product (Emirates)

Morgan said he and his wife’s seats did not recline to a lie flat position and were less cushioned than those that appeared in Emirates advertising. The entertainment system was also outdated and there was no internet connection.

Emirates said in its defence that its small print allowed the airline to vary the services it advertised and therefore had not broken the New Zealand Fair Trading Act.

Disputes Tribunal referee Laura Mueller disagreed and made a ruling against the airline.

“Emirates advertised a business class service that consumers were very unlikely to receive.”

“This was the result of advertising a service that they were rarely delivering, not due to an occasional or one-off change of aircraft due to operational requirements.”

“The promotional materials were based on an updated/new business class seat and service that is not in place in the older aircraft that Emirates flies to NZ.”

Emirates B777 on tarmac at Auckland Airport (Dan Lake)

Mueller said Emirates argued that its contracts with New Zealand customers allowed it to change the aircraft used on its flights to the country for operational reasons, and its newer aircraft were needed on other routes.

“The Fair Trading Act 1986 prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct in trade. The advertising of a service that Emirates knew would unlikely be delivered is misleading and deceptive,” Mueller said in her ruling.

Morgan said Emirates advertising was designed to attract potential customers away from competing airlines, but the airline was selling a service that “essentially did not exist”.

Emirates has been contacted for comment.

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