The websites didn’t really work very well (Am I the only person who thinks that the new Emirates website sucks at a deep and fundamental level?), particularly the Skywards site, which required customers to reset their cookies, clear the cache and stick marzipan copies of the Venus de Milo into their nostrils (they’re quite insistent on the last point) before it will allow even the simplest transaction to be contemplated.
So then you’re on to the call centres, which give you unparalleled access to morons who believe that your role in the transaction is to be led to the stun gun of their incompetence like cattle to the abattoir.
I ended up with one of two people’s tickets booked on a flight using Skywards Miles and being told to go to Emirates’ call centre to book the other ticket paying cash because Skywards couldn't take cash. Of course then the other ticket wasn’t available for under £1,000 – three times the price of any budget airline and pretty much double the normal Emirates fare for any other flight on that day. And the Emirates call centre couldn’t change the Skywards booking. So I had a useless Skywards ticket and a no-go madly priced Emirates ticket – and a couple flying on different flights on the same day – all with a great deal of ping-ponging between the two call centres and frenzied research on the EK website as the flights during the busy Easter period filled up around me.
Three hours and a great deal of tooth gritting later I got my two flights from the UK to Dubai: one on my Skywards miles and one using good old fashioned cash. Which is what I wanted, simply, to begin with. The angel that managed this was called Nikita and she simply did what could and should have been done in the first place: she helped me and was intelligent.
What amazes me is not that Emirates managed to waste three hours of my life, but that they wasted three hours of their booking staff’s time to complete a straightforward transaction that should have been simplicity itself and enabled by the website.
There was nothing that I wanted that was unusual or complicated. Just two tickets on one flight – using any combination (I didn’t care which combination) of miles and cash.
If there are many more like me out there, Emirates are blowing millions of Dirhams a year on managing long, complex and ultimately pointless transactions with furiously unhappy customers that are simply unable to conduct relatively simple and straightforward transactions on the company’s website or with its call centres.
Or perhaps I’m just unlucky...