Have been jetting around a bit recently, a couple of trips back to the UK to visit my Dad and a Business trip to France to meet my new boss. This has left me with several observations:
1. Motor Neurone Disease is a horrific way for a human life to end and I want to do all that I can to raise money and awareness for the cause. So please Google "MND Charter" and add your signature to it. It doesn't cost anything and will help raise awareness about a medical condition that kills 1,200 people every year in the UK alone, which strikes at random, and for which there is no known treatment or cure.
2. Emirates Airlines are a bunch of lying, cynical, money-grabbing bastards!! I fly with Emirates quite a lot and always have a lot of Skywards Frequent Flyer miles in my account. Part of the reason for this is that Emirates make it practically impossible for me to spend them. My preferred way of using my miles is to book Economy fares, then use my miles to upgrade the return leg. As a Skywards Silver Member, I am (according to the propaganda on the Emirates web site) entitled to use my Skywards Miles to claim Instant Upgrades at Check In if there are seats available. It is also (again, according to their web site) easy to upgrade any part of a booked journey via the Emirates web site.
How is it then, that in three years of flying with Emirates, I have only been able to upgrade my flight on-line twice, and upgrade at the airport once??? How? Because the Emirates web site is one of the greatest works of fiction since Nick Clegg's last set of Election promises!!!
Last Friday I was returning to Dubai from Paris on a night flight which I had been trying to upgrade on-line since I booked it 6 weeks ago. I appreciate that there will always be a limited number of Reward seats available, so I was pinning all my hopes on snagging an upgrade at check-in. I was optimistic about this as the Emirates web-shite was still showing availability in Business Class as I arrived at the airport. I marched straight up to the Gold/Silver members check-in desk, presented my Silver Skywards card, and politely requested to purchase an upgrade using my Skywards miles. I was politely told that Business Class was full. I expressed my disbelief at this, but not wanting to cause a scene, proceeded to check in to Economy Class. I then phoned Emirates to enquire why their web-shite was still showing availability in Business Class on my flight when the check-in staff were telling me that it was full. I was told that there definitely was still availability and that the check-in girl had made a mistake. I was told to go back to the check-in desk and request to be checked out and re-checked into Business Class. Then, as I was thanking the guy and about to hang up, he suddenly asked "Wait... Are you trying to upgrade using miles or cash?"
When I told him that I was trying to use miles, his tune changed somewhat. He told me that there were extra terms and conditions around Instant Upgrades and that I could only upgrade using cash. I explained that this did not reflect the Terms and Conditions on the Emirates web-shite, and was met with a tirade of half-baked excuses. By now I was furious, and explained to the guy that although the situation was not entirely his fault, I was extremely disappointed, and that I would seriously consider boycotting Emirates in future.
I know it seems like a petty thing to get wound up about, but I really do resent being lied to and generally treated like an idiot. The purpose of a customer loyalty rewards scheme is to reward loyal customers. I've carried out my side of that bargain by exclusively using Emirates for my frequent travel between Dubai and the UK and in doing so have earned a shed-load of "Loyalty" points. Emirates have effectively told me "Hey, you're a loyal customer! Here's a badge, and with that badge comes the right to use your points to upgrade at check-in if there are seats available...." And then, when I try to take them up on this offer, I am told "Pah!!! Your paltry points are no good here. If you want to be rewarded for being a good customer, you need to give us more money. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-haaah...." To me, that seems akin to Michael Phelps arriving at the winners podium and being told that although he finished the race first, he'll need to do another 30 laps if he wants the medal.
I suppose what it comes down to is a sense of entitlement. If you are wrongfully denied something to which you are entitled, it is going to make you angry. By publishing inaccurate or incomplete Terms and Conditions for usage of the Skywards programme on their web-shite, Emirates are deliberately saddling their customers with a sense of false entitlement, which will inevitably cause disappointment, frustration and anger. And yet they refer to Skywards as a loyalty scheme? I guess that the announcement "During this flight you can join Skywards, Emirates' Customer Disappointment, Frustration and Enraging Scheme" doesn't exactly trip off the tongue.