Emirates Airline Complaints

I would like to share with the Choice community two very bad and expensive travel mishaps we recently experienced with Emirates.
We missed our flight from Brisbane to Barcelona , completely our own fault but who has not missed a flight! We were made to purchase two one way economy tickets to Dubai ,at a cost of $4500 for the two of us, in order to connect with the next leg of our journey with Emirates.
If we did not agree they would cancel the Dubai-Barcelona leg! We pointed out that even with taking the later flight that we would still make our original connection because we had arranged to stay over a night at the Dubai airport hotel.
We offered to pay the" no show "fee and the upgrade amount to a “full” economy class ticket (whatever that means nowadays!) as our travel agent unbeknownst to us must have got a cheaper block of tickets.We were informed by the so called Emirates service staff( who were rude and totally non helpful) that there were no more of these “special” class tickets available and our offer to pay the difference to upgrade to full economywas rejected.
When we finally got on board there were plenty of empty economy seats .
Several lessons to note here: never miss a flight,be very aware of what level/type of fare you have been sold( there does not seem to be any “standard” economy fare anymore) and in our case never,ever fly with Emirates again!
I will tell you about the problem with Emirates on our return trip in a separate blog.
Take care!


Thanks for sharing the experience @buddytess, sounds like a real nightmare. I’m hoping you got it all sorted satisfactorily eventually (without the $4500 additional tickets!).

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Ouch, that’s so unfair.

They know they can pretty much do whatever they like to someone in that situation. I reckon it’s a bit of a joke the way they can cancel a whole flight itinerary if you miss one leg.

A similar thing happened to me, I booked flights to Europe departing Canberra then through Sydney. But then I moved to Sydney to live. Tried to remove the Canberra leg and Qantas wanted $400 in change fees for not flying that part and if I didn’t get the Canberra-Sydney leg Qantas would cancel my whole ticket.


No we did not! And you have not yet read the second disaster coming home!

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That’s no good. I’ll wait to hear about the return leg

Hi @buddytess,

Missing a flight is one of my worst fears when travelling, especially overseas as the potential roll on impacts can be significant and costly.

Fortunately (touch wood) I have only missed an internal regional flight many years ago… the check in desk closed as we entered the queuing area for checkin. Meant an unplanned overnight stay without any personal items or change in clothing.

If you have taken out travel insurance, check to see if it covers the missed flight. Some policies cover missed flights for specific reasons. Here is a website that provides a bit more information…click this link. You will however need to check the terms and conditions of the specific policy which has been purchased (or make contact with the issuing company).

Hopefully you have travel insurance and there is specific cover for the reason you missed your flight.

I am possibly like most travellers who never take time to read the lengthy T&Cs associated with plane ticket I have purchased, especially the special or discounted ones. I just hope that I never do anything which means I need to.

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FWIW the origins of that policy was for airlines to “protect” themselves from the hidden fares where it could be cheaper to fly (eg) SYD-MEL-SIN than only MEL-SIN. People would buy the SYD-MEL-SIN tickets and board at MEL (where they lived).

Whether the fare structures make sense or are defensible is another topic, as are the over the top rip offs they are able to impose, such as @buddytess experienced.

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I also wonder if in today’s security environment, it also something to do with security. I expect that airlines would not really appreciate it if luggage appeared suddenly at a stopover airport for a passenger who was a no show at the origin. Would possibly raise flags.


@southerton you’re completely right. In our super complaint to the ACCC we argued that this contract term (sometimes called a “no show clause”) is an unfair contract term. Several countries in Europe, including Spain, have banned these terms.

If anyone is interested in reading more, take a look at p32-34 of the complaint which you can download at www.choice.com.au/fareplay


I was not aware of these “no show” clauses! Looks like an airline could make more money out of someone not showing up than if they actually flew!


Exactly @ShaneB, for example, if you don’t show for one of your flight legs on a multi stop trip (let’s say you’re doing a round the world trip over a couple of months, you decide you’re going to skip your London to Berlin flight and take the train instead) they can cancel all your ongoing flights (in our example they might then cancel your Berlin - Sydney trip home).

If there’s enough lead time, they can cancel these flights and then on-sell the seat. They’ve essentially made twice (or more!) on these seats.


The clauses are ‘unfare’ because if one used separate/independent airlines for the same multisector legs, then only the missed legs would be voided and others valid providing flights could still be caught.

It is also not necessarily cheaper to use the same airline in multisector flights…we often find that different carriers for different sectors are often cheaper. Even when this is the case, we still prefer the one carrier for multisectors as if say the first flight is late, at least the airline generally helps rebooking ongoing sectors…using diferent airlines one is often left to ones own devices to resolve. Furthermore, often using same airline, they provide accommodation for forced overnight layovers…something not provided if using different carriers for each sector.


Love your very on brand pun @phb!

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Well basically the same company Qantas charged me $340 one way to Brisbane from Cairns December last year. That’s what you get when you want a flight today now kind of thing

Sorry to hear about your bad experience with Emirates Airlines but doesn’t surprise me. I had several disgustingly bad experiences with them awhile back when returning Home from a Middle East Trip. To save writing an 8 Page Article on my troubles with them I will just keep it short. 4 Hours waiting for a Cup of Coffee, trapped in a Window Seat with a Baby Bassinet on the Bulkhead which didn’t allow me Access to the Aisle (I was Travelling Solo). Stopover in Dubai and made to wait 2 hours for a Car to my Hotel as was all Westerners on the Flight (Travelling Business Class) Verbally abused by the Transfer Desk Staff and on and on went the Problems until I finally arrived back Home. I rate Emirates as the WORST and Grubbiest Airline in the World and will NEVER Fly or Recommend them ever again. They are just a Bunch of amatures and I Rate them at the bottom of the List. Never Again. .

Buddytess: I have to ask the question of ‘why did you not contact your travel agent and ask them to get you on the next available flight’? My sister missed her Melbourne to LAX flight once (her fault - got the days mixed up and turned up for check in a day late) and called her travel agent and they got her on the next available at no additional cost.

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Good question . .
We did but Emirates refused their request too!
It was explained to us later by the travel agent that Emirates has become such a dominant force in the industry that they have become the “bully in the schoolyard” and do what they please . . .
Since the GFC in 2008 there has been a concentration of ownership in the airline industry resulting in much less competition and introduction of the so called degraded service concept where travellers now pay for so called extras( priority boarding etc) which previously came with a normal economy fare or are just marketing hype. .
If it did not result in horrible service standards to the traveller one could marvel at how clever it is!

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Thank you, buddytess, for your reply. My goodness me, I definitely won’t be flying Emirates when we go to Europe. Thanks for this valuable information.

I would never use Emirates to go to London from the main reason it can take so much longer - up to 54 hours if you are not careful - because of the enforced stop-over in UAE. Fine if you want to break your journey, me? I’d prefer to get to London faster!

[quote=“buddytess, post:1, topic:13977, full:true”]
We offered to pay the" no show "fee and the upgrade amount to a “full” economy class ticket (whatever that means nowadays!) as our travel agent unbeknownst to us must have got a cheaper block of tickets.[/quote]

I have never heard of a “no show fee”. If you don’t turn up, you lose the rest of the ticket. That’s normal industry practice, unless you are on a full-fare ticket, which is usually 3-4 times the cost of the cheapest discount ticket. A “full” economy class ticket would be something booked in Y class. That is also the standard. Most airlines have at least 10 booking classes below Y. (Qantas lists 14 economy booking classes for Emirates here: https://www.qantas.com/fflyer/dyn/flying/airline-earning#ek )

It could have been worse. If you were on a low-cost carrier like Tiger, you would simply lose your whole ticket with no possible alternative at all except to buy a new ticket for the whole trip. The extra fees and cancellations are where they make most of their profits.

The only time I’ve been late for an international flight was because of a failure with the train system in Toronto. As soon as I knew we wouldn’t make it, I phoned United (yes, the same United that has been getting so much bad press recently) and they moved us to the next flight at no additional cost. If you inform them early enough, at least you might get away with a change fee, rather than risk a no-show. (Qantas, like Emirates, are quite brutal about these things though.)