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Give passengers the sultan service


The arrival of Emirates Airlines to Ireland in January came as a blessing for long-haul travellers.

Their new route between Dublin and Dubai has made the Middle East and Asia more accessible from Ireland, and meant that the long trip down to Australia can be done in two flights from Dublin rather than three.

But it also promised Irish air customers a new level of service in the skies.

Like the people of the United Arab Emirates, the international airline of Dubai says it takes great pride in hospitality and giving its customers a five-star experience in the sky.

So how did things go so horribly wrong last month, when hundreds of passengers were left stranded on a plane in dire conditions for the guts of 10 hours?

What should have been an eight-hour journey turned into an 18-hour one for the passengers of the flight from Dublin, which encountered a sandstorm before touchdown in Dubai.

Unable to land, the pilot diverted to a smaller airport nearby, but, due to limited immigration facilities there, passengers were forced to stay on the tarmac for the entire night.

Mother Nature often scuppers our best-laid plans, but that's no excuse for the catalogue of cock-ups that followed.

At times throughout the night, there was no water. The best the galley could conjure up was cheese rolls. The air conditioning broke down, leaving passengers in desert conditions, and the plane ran out of toilet roll.

You might expect this sort of hardship from a run-down Third World airport, but a gilt-edged oil kingdom like Dubai? It's enough to make Michael O'Leary blush.

When the worn-out passengers were finally flown to their destination the next morning, the very least they could have expected on arrival was a splash-up meal, free nights in five-star hotels, and cash payments to compensate for the appalling night they had endured and other financial losses they had incurred.

Sadly, they were given was an email address to contact, and the offer of free air miles. One passenger claimed his group of five were put in a room for four, while another said it took two weeks to get a reply to his email.

Not good enough, Emirates, not good enough by a long shot.

Hopefully, by now, all passengers have received an apology and proper compensation for their ordeal, and that this was a one-off disaster from an airline who promises so much.

Air travel is dependent on so many different factors, it's inevitable that things go wrong every so often.

What's vital, however, is to make sure when they do, they are put right as quickly as possible.

Weekend Magazine