Business class tickets are notoriously expensive, so what happens when they don’t live up to your expectations?
Well, one New Zealand man was so disappointed with his business class seats that he sued Emirates for “misleading and deceptive” advertising and won more than $12,500 (NZD$13,555).
The man was travelling with his wife to England and had forked out for business class seats that were supposed to recline to lie flat. But when they boarded their flight, they found this wasn’t the case.
The seats also came with an old entertainment system that malfunctioned, and there was no mini bar or internet connection.
It turned out Emirates was running an older aircraft from New Zealand, and it was different to the newer one shown in advertising that targeted New Zealand travellers.
Emirates argued its terms and conditions allowed it to vary the services it advertised. It also said the seats reclined to 166.1 degrees and the “ordinary air-traveller” would see this as equivalent to a lie-flat seat.
But the New Zealand Disputes Tribunal found in favour of the customer.
“Emirates advertised a business class service that consumers were very unlikely to receive,” Disputes Tribunal referee Laura Mueller said.
“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.
“The promotional materials were based on an updated/new business class seat and service that is not in place in the older aircraft that Emirates flies to NZ.”
The tribunal found Emirates had misrepresented the business class service available to New Zealand customers and was in breach of the Fair Trading Act.
Emirates was ordered to pay more than $12,500 ($13,555 NZD), with the man seeking a partial refund for the price of the tickets, as well as a refund of the price they paid to upgrade to first class for a leg of the journey so they could have lie-flat seats.