EK complaint letter IAH-DXB-JNB and back


Tequila, Miles and Suites
I don't know about you, but I had a very positive image of EK without ever having flown it. I put them in the same category as SQ, LH, TG, etc. After actually flying with them, I find them marginally better than UA. And that is only because the cabin crew is really attentive.

Here is what I sent to EK today:

March 16, 2015

Dear Sir Tim Clark:

I hope you don’t mind me reaching out to you. I was unable to find a senior executive in charge of Customer Relations or Service on your website.

For years I have been toying with the idea of trying your airline since you added the A380 from Houston in 2014. When I took a group of 9 customers to South Africa on an incentive trip, we were very excited to experience your superior service as advertised. It was not cheap, but I knew I would buy an incredible experience that would make the roughly 30 hour journey memorable, even in economy. And how long lasting those memories will prove to be.

The power of Advertising:
The consistency and brilliance of your advertising is truly seductive and it ultimately led me to buy those 10 round trip tickets Houston-Johannesburg. The promises of superior service and excellent hard and soft products more than outweighed the 4 and 9 hour respective layovers in Dubai as well as the roughly 4-5 hours additional flight time had we used a legacy carrier like British Airways or Lufthansa instead. Congrats to your advertising team. Because of their brilliance, 10 people were able to experience a carrier they had never considered before.

Reconnecting with my customers:

When the free wifi, that was advertised all over your website, was not available for most of the 14 hour flight to Dubai, it made me realize that I can disconnect from the internet and reconnect with my customers and spent the time getting to know them and their families even better. I learned so many things about them that I would not have ever heard if your wifi had worked as promised

Simplified miles management
Your airline allows me to credit miles to select partner airlines. When one of us selected Alaska Airlines for the first leg of the trip, they were told that now all segments will be credited to Alaska Airlines. Crediting some segments to Alaska and others to Emirates is not an option and that obviously simplifies my life. 4 segments, 1 choice. I wish the rest of my life was that easy.

Expanding personal comfort zones:
Like many adults, my customer’s wife is a creature of habit and likes her routines. She was complacent with her expectations regarding hygiene. When the seatback for her Johannesburg-Dubai flight was covered in vomit from a previous passenger, she was offered an 8 hour training class in expanding her personal comfort zone. Before this flight she would have struggled with smelling vomit for 8 hours straight and eating off a tray table that was gooey or using the inflight entertainment screen that had bodily fluids from complete strangers on it. But thanks to her Emirates experience, she will never look at vomit the same way.

Lounges and their perspectives
When legacy carriers grant you access to their lounges, you get access to all their lounges. That makes it boring and predictable. Emirates provides additional excitement and perspectives. For example, Silver members, at all lounges outside of Dubai, get to enjoy the view of the lounge from the outside in. That is a refreshing and heart rate increasing change. In Dubai, your lounge experience comes with exercise, as apparently, no matter what terminal you are leaving from, you are only allowed to use the C concourse lounge.

Lounge Capacity Management
Normally, if you qualify for lounge access, you have lounge access. Emirates figured out how to advertise lounge access in Dubai to silver members without having to actually provide it, greatly reducing crowding issues and keeping unwanted passengers like my customers out of the lounges. All passenger has to do is to foolishly credit their Emirates flights to Alaska and voila, their advertised lounge access benefit is denied, providing others with solitude and peace in your lounges.

Complimentary Passenger weight loss management program:
I was fascinated by this unadvertised benefit. When we had a service issue in Dubai we were afforded the opportunity to meet 14 (yes, I counted) of your finest employees. Their burning desire to introduce us to another colleague, who was invariably at the other end of the terminal, was only overcome by their magical ability to talk to us for 15 minutes without creating any change in our situation. As a result, I walked over two miles before 3AM. An American carrier would have solved my issue with the first employee, thus depriving me of the opportunity to reduce my weight.

Healthy Beverage Options
By running out of diet Coke 5 hours into the flight, you made me switch to water, which is clearly much healthier. Your beer options, Budweiser, Amstel Light and Heineken, are so wonderfully non-offensive with their water-like taste profiles that it actually makes more sense to just drink water. Again, your beverage management led to healthier beverage choices by the passenger.

Wife vs soccer:
When your “live soccer broadcast” channels failed and did not show the game of my favorite soccer team, I was provided with the opportunity to talk to my wife for 90 minutes rather than watching a boring soccer game with four goals that ended in a 2:2 draw and a last minute goal by a substitute player.

Importance of rules:
As Americans, we are used to exceptions or adjustments based on the circumstances of the situation. It was refreshing to realize that Emirates values its rules and communicates those to the passengers consistently and with forceful convictions. I am sure you recall the wife of my customer who was faced with a puke covered seat for 8 hours. When I attempted to bring her into the lounge with me to compensate her for the situation, every single employee we encountered interpreted the rules consistently and forcefully denied her access to the lounge. Not one employee even considered straying outside the rule and making an exception for a clearly unrealistic customer request. The lounge supervisor at the “B” terminal was especially skilled and forceful in her demeanour and communication skills. Enforcing this rule also kept the lounges free of the riff-raff (see above)

I am sure you have heard the old saying, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Well, Emirates gave two of our customers on 2 of the 4 flights the opportunity to relearn flexibility when they were given the chicken dishes even though they had ordered the vegetarian meals due to dietary restrictions. It is always good to occasionally test if your food allergies still produce the strong medical reaction you remembered (And, yes they still do).

As you can see, this was an exciting, eventful and inspiring trip with my customers. We were exposed to different business practices and different ways of treating your customers and it was a very valuable lesson for all of us. Your staff had such a strong impact and long lasting impression on us that I don’t think we will forget this trip for years. In the meantime, we will fly with airlines who actually care about their customers and have at least a basic grasp on the concept of customer service.



Level 2 Member
Absolutely brilliant! I hope you get a reply....and I hope you share that as well.
Alternately, you should have it published publicly!


Tequila, Miles and Suites
I certainly will. I did not find the email for the ceo, so i used the general complaint form and also emailed the two houston based sales managers. I was very willing to shift some business their way, but after this i certainly wont. Their cabin crew is great, the rest is really 1979 Russian standard for customer service. Horrendous. Unless you have clout, they just dont care, no matter how wrong they are


Staff member
Hopefully we can get this in front of the right people.. (which is everyone)


Tequila, Miles and Suites
Any help you can provide would be appreciated. I am really more interested in their response than getting anything. This was a business trip and ek made me look bad in front of my customers. The damage is done and short of giving us 10 new j class tickets there is not much they can do. I dont expect them to do anything and i certainly did not ask for anything in my letter


Level 2 Member
I don't get it. I have no idea what the f**k you are complaining about, to whom, or why. My guess is Tim Clark, one of the brightest lights in the industry, doesn't give a s**t about any of this.


Tequila, Miles and Suites
I don't get it. I have no idea what the f**k you are complaining about, to whom, or why. My guess is Tim Clark, one of the brightest lights in the industry, doesn't give a s**t about any of this.
I am pointing out that:

  • inflight wifi did not work as advertised
  • While on other airlines you can elect which segment to credit to which airline, EK does not let you do that
  • vomit on a seat for 8 hours is not acceptable, especially when the vomit is there BEFORE the plane even takes off
  • If you credit your flights to an EK partner you are denied lounge access
  • Lounge access to Silver members is limited to DXB
  • The customer service attitude of EK ground staff is :"Pass the buck, not me, talk to him"
  • The live soccer channel did not work as advertised
  • The selection of beer on EK is utter crap
  • pre-ordering special meals is hit and miss on EK
Of course Tim Clark won't care about any of this. He will probably never even read this. But that is not the point, or did you think it was?

The issue is that EK prides itself on service and inflight entertainment and it was not significantly better than BA, LH or even UA.


Level 2 Member
This should definitely be published! Matt...work some magic!

I did retweet your Tweet....and Tweeted again...


Level 2 Member
Booking economy for customers all the way to JNB? Great way to lose customers...no matter what airline you were on...


Staff member
Booking economy for customers all the way to JNB? Great way to lose customers...no matter what airline you were on...
It's really not. Customers get what they pay for, if they are paying $20K for a weekend in JoBurg then sure, but we have no frame of reference so its a bit of a leap to suggest that.


Level 2 Member
"For years I have been toying with the idea of trying your airline since you added the A380 from Houston in 2014."

It's only March 2015. How could you have been toying with the idea for years? While I would be pissed too under the circumstances, this letter makes you look childish. Did you try any other avenues for compensation before taking this route?


Level 2 Member
Way to shoot the messenger, guys. Are you jealous that you didn't think of it yourselves, when faced with really really bad flight experiences?

The only negative comment that I would have is that there exist, strange as it may seem, people to whom sarcasm is a foreign language. If your reader is one of those people, they will have difficulty figuring out that you are damning them, not praising them.

When I use sarcasm, I lay it on REALLY REALLY thick, so even those poor benighted souls will get it.