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Tuesday 23 April 2024

Major airline offers big apology

As it clears a backlog of around 30,000 delayed bags, Emirates Airline has issued a rare fulsome apology for its failings.

Airline president Sir Tim Clark admitted that the airline had let down its customers through a lack of contingency planning after the United Arab Emirates was last week hit by storms and unprecedented flooding.

"I would like to offer our most sincere apologies to every customer who has had their travel plans disrupted during this time," Clark said.

"On Tuesday, April 16, the UAE experienced its highest rainfall in 75 years.

"Lashing storm winds and rain disrupted activity across the cities. Our 24/7 hub in Dubai remained open, with flight movements reduced for safety, but flooded roads impeded the ability of our customers, pilots, cabin crew, and airport employees to reach the airport, and also the movement of essential supplies like meals and other flight amenities.

"We diverted dozens of flights to avoid the worst of the weather on Tuesday, and over the next three days we had to cancel nearly 400 flights and delay many more, as our hub operations remained challenged by staffing and supply shortages."

The chaos extended to suspending check-in for passengers departing Dubai, implementing an embargo on ticket sales, and temporarily halting connecting passenger traffic from points across the network coming into Dubai.

"We sent over 100 employee volunteers to look after disrupted customers at Dubai Airport departures and in the transit area, prioritising medical cases, the elderly and other vulnerable travellers," Clark said.

"To date, over 12,000 hotel rooms were secured to accommodate disrupted customers in Dubai, 250,000 meal vouchers have been issued, and more quantities of drinking water, blankets, and other amenities."

But a lot of customers were extremely unhappy that Emirates had no plans to deal with the chaos and were left to fend for themselves in the airport. .

"We have put together a taskforce to sort, reconcile, and deliver some 30,000 pieces of left-behind baggage to their owners," Clark said.

"We know our response has been far from perfect. We acknowledge and understand the frustration of our customers due to the congestion, lack of information, and confusion in the terminals. We acknowledge that the long queues and wait times have been unacceptable."

Among the stranded baggage was that of Australians en route to Gallipoli for Anzac Day events. 

Personally, I'm not surprised. A while back I need information and help from Emirates' PR team. The response was underwhelming and I vowed to avoid them, where possible, in the future.

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