Emirates ordered to pay passenger $11,300 over ‘misleading’ business class ad
A New Zealand court has ordered Emirates to pay more than NZ$13,555 (S$11,300) to a passenger who claimed that the Dubai-based airline’s advertisements for its business class offerings were misleading.
According to New Zealand news website Stuff, the passenger, Mr Mark Morgan, had purchased the seats for himself and his wife for a trip to England.
Mr Morgan said he saw an Emirates ad, which featured flat-bed seats, minibars and an updated entertainment system, reported travel website One Mile at a Time.
However, he discovered that the seats on the airline’s older Boeing 777-300ER aircraft could not fully recline to become a flat bed. They were also less cushioned than the seats featured in the ad.
The entertainment system was not working either. There was no Internet connection and no minibar, he said.
Mr Morgan told New Zealand’s Disputes Tribunal that Emirates was selling a service that “essentially did not exist”, and sought a partial refund of the price of the tickets he bought. He also sought a refund of the price he paid to upgrade to first class on one leg of the journey, for him and his wife to sleep on flat-bed seats.
Misleading and deceptive
Ms Laura Mueller, a referee from the Disputes Tribunal, ordered Emirates to pay Mr Morgan by next Monday, noting that the airline had “advertised a business class service that consumers were very unlikely to receive”, reported Stuff.
Emirates said that it had not broken its contract with customers, as its fine print allowed it to change the service and aircraft it used on the flights it offered. It added that it was running its New Zealand operations at a loss, with its newer planes deployed on other routes.
The airline also told the Disputes Tribunal that Mr Morgan and his wife had received seats that could recline to 166.1 degrees, which was “equivalent to a lie-flat seat” to “ordinary” travellers.
It had offered Mr Morgan a refund of NZ$786, claiming that the service that he received was only a 5 per cent reduction in quality compared with the service it advertised.
But Ms Mueller ruled that Mr Morgan’s claim for NZ$13,555 was reasonable.
“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,” she said.
Ms Mueller added that the promotional materials Emirates had were based on an updated business class seat and service that are not in place in the older aircraft that the airline flies to New Zealand.
“The advertising of a service that Emirates knew would unlikely be delivered is misleading and deceptive,” she said.
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