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My First Emirates Airlines Experience & a Series of Unfortunate Events

The Backstory

Hurricane Matthew was a terrible, no good, very bad storm, that ravaged the Bahamas in early October 2016. My beloved Bahamaland survived, for the most part, and we immediately began to rebuild, as a country. I was lucky, only losing a part of my roof. Despite losing much of my personal items to water and storm damage, my family, loved ones, friends and work family were all safe. Rattled, but safe. The immediate aftermath of the storm revealed the best in people. There was an abundance of kindness and warmth that I had never seen, and it was contagious. A week before Matthew hit, I was looking forward to a highly anticipated trip to Italy. However, as I wore my only pair of remaining shoes, a neon pink pair of Nike running sneakers, I had absolutely no desire to even think about a vacation.

Work was my solace. From sun up to sun down, I kept myself busy. And at night, in the stark silence, free from electricity and all forms of manmade noise, I went to bed with an odd sense of contentment.

The bed I slept in was not my own – it was the childhood bed of a good friend of mine. His parents had kindly taken me in as my roof got sorted out. My car sounded like a motorboat from all of the salt water that it had passed through in the days prior, and the daily ice cold showers jolted me awake, but I was good. Off kilter, but good.

Several days passed before I found a true sense of balance. Save for a few email prompts alerting me to my previously anticipated trip, I had completely forgotten about the upcoming Italy excursion.

I eventually called my wanderlust buddy and told her that I wanted her to go without me, have an amazing time, and gift a friend with a free trip in my stead. To her credit, she refused, and firmly said we would go together or not at all. That truly warmed my heart, so I went about the arduous task of trying to reschedule and rebook. Jet Blue and Expedia earned my loyalty in the few moments it took them to realize my predicament, and to immediately offer me complete refunds or credit.

Grateful is an understatement. The only thing left to sort out was my flight. Emirates airline has always had a reputation for luxury and impeccable service. From their fashionably dressed flight crew, to the adverts for lavish in-flight accommodations, I had always heard good things about them. However, I quickly found that their service reputation did not extend to their back end customer support.

I simply wanted to rebook my flight or receive a possible credit, and the customer service rep greeted my curtly. We only spoke for a minute or so before the customer service rep became dismissive, flippant and stopped just short of saying "I could not possibly care any less about your predicament". The first agent was so unpleasant that I thanked him and said I would call back. The next day, I received an equally dismissive response that barely allowed me to finish a complete sentence. This time, the agent did manage to say the company would allow me to rebook, but I would have to pay a fee, a new premium flight rate that was far more than the prices quoted online, and I had to pick a new date "right now." Needless to say, a new date was far from my mind, as I still had no roof atop my home. Having little lucky or assistance with telephone support, I went to the Emirates Facebook page, which was filled with customer service horror stories. I sent a private message, and this time got much more cordial language than their telephone counterparts. The Facebook agent offered to waive the change fee and I would simply have to pay any difference in the cost of the flight. I thanked them greatly. Their resolution was kind and fair. March proved to be low season to travel to Italy and nearly all of the flights were the same price as the one we had booked prior, if not cheaper. Hoping the third time would be the charm, I called the customer service line again with the information that I received from the Facebook agent. I was once again greeted harshly and coldly. I gave all of my information and came with a date in mind. Again, customer service tried to charge a premium fare, that was nearly $300 more per person and would not honor the online rate that I pulled up as a dialed their line. Again I was dismissed by the agent and told that if I wanted the online rate I could simply book new flight. At this point I let the trip go. I wanted nothing to do with Emirates. Again, my wanderlust buddy intervened and we had to once again reach out to the online team to get some assistance. She eventually got them to honor their online rate, so we were able to rebook without having to pay a premium that was nearly the cost of purchasing a new ticket.

My Actual Emirates In-Flight Experience

After the initial back and forth with the Emirates customer service team, I was cautiously optimistic about my trip into Italy. (You can CLICK HERE for more info about my Italian adventures.)

Prior to the trip, I was easily able to request a seafood meal option to accommodate my pescatarian diet, which was awesome. I usually just get the regular meals and hope for the best.

Once in New York (I travelled from Nassau via Jet Blue) the check-in process was a breeze, and the check-in agent was extremely friendly. My wanderlust buddy and I travelled on separate flights, and he kindly told me that she had just checked in a few minutes prior and had passed on the message that she had gone to wait near our departure gate. He also said that we would be lucky, and no one else was booked in our row.

I was so grateful that our trip was shaping up to be amazing. In the airport, we met a kind couple who gave us some tips from their previous trip to Italy, and told us about a site that they used frequently called Gate 1 Travel. I have never used them, but based on their glowing recommendation, I will check it out.

Once on board, we were given special two-prong headphones and pillow and a blanket. The seats were standard, but comfy enough.

I got my special seafood meal before standard meal service, a dish of boiled salmon and rice. It was pretty bland, but the meal on the return trip, also salmon, was restaurant quality. That was a plus.

The Emirate team, as expected, were impeccably dressed, and kind enough, if not a bit aloof. One attendant in particular seemed a tad annoyed by everyone in our section, but she was still polite. There was a wide film and television library available for viewing, and European plug sockets were available on each seat.

On the way back, service was about the same, though the team was a bit friendlier despite having to deal with a large group of students who appeared to be travelling for a school trip.

One thing that I found odd was the that the flight crew collected the in-flight headphones, in our section, about an hour before landing, and our flight attendant was pretty adamant about doing so. The lady in front of my asked to keep hers a bit longer to finish her movie, but the attendant asked her to relinquish them. I continued to watch the seat-back television with my personal headphones, so I was fine. However, when we deplaned, we noticed that in the section just in front of us, which was also a standard section, the headphones were all left on the seat, so this may have just been the personal decision of our aloof attendant.

To be fair, I purchased a standard ticket, and did not experience the Emirates first class life, but the trip itself was pretty standard. I actually enjoyed the Delta long-haul experience a bit more, and the only thing that stood out about my Emirates flight was the seafood meal option. Emirates is also a Jet Blue partner, so my True Blue points is another plus.

All in all, I would definitely fly them again.

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