Unfair air fares
On January 28, 2009 I contacted Emirates Holidays to make a booking for six people to fly to Kuala Lumpur for my father's 60th surprise birthday in June.

Emirates sent a quotation of Dh43,838 for a business class booking, as requested. I confirmed the booking and was asked to fill a credit card form and pay a deposit of Dh5,000.

An attendant confirmed that the deposit would be taken on February 9 as she was on leave. On February 9, I received an e-mail confirmation that she had received the deposit, and that the balance would be due on April 30.

On March 23, I added two more people to the booking and was sent a reservation number on March 25. The same day I requested for an additional person to be added.

As I had received no response by March 30, I e-mailed Emirates. I also wanted to know the difference I would have to pay as the person would be staying in a single room.

Emirates stated that the cost would be Dh16,652 for this one person. I couldn't believe this as I had paid Dh7,000 per person for the original booking. Was this a joke?

Two hours later, Emirates informed me that a mistake had been made in the original booking and the actual cost was Dh76,000. I informed the attendant that I had already paid a deposit in January.

He called back later to say that there would be a consideration made and that they could accept an amount no less than Dh57,000.

I was so upset I could hardly speak and requested to deal with someone else. The next day Emirates informed me that they would honour the original quotation of Dh43,000.

Please note, that on January 28 when I had booked with Emirates I had also received a quotation from Etihad Airways for exactly the same package but at Dh44,000.

I was then told by Emirates that the booking for the two additional passengers (who had already booked and paid for their flight from the UK) would cost Dh25,000. I informed Emirates that at no point had I received a confirmation about this. The revised costing was never discussed. I was given a verbal quotation by a female attendant who I had only spoken to once!

I requested Emirates to check the recorded conversations to know of my case. I asked for an apology from the female attendant, but have not received anything till date. I was not going to accept what they had told me.

On April 8, another staff member e-mailed me and admitted in her e-mail that "we cannot unfortunately erase this error". How was I expected to pay Dh25,220 when the price was never quoted? I was desperate as I knew that the two additional people would not be able to afford the outstanding amount. I suggested whether the air miles on my card would be used, but they could not.

On April 8, I received a call asking me to make a decision by Sunday as the fare would be going up! On the 11th, I received an e-mail that stated "as you know Emirates holidays are honouring our quote and in order to maintain this, the balance payment of Dh38,238 plus Dh810 for taxes must be paid by April 13 or the air fare component of the quotation will have to be revised upwards as per the terms and conditions" and "with regards to the quote for the additional 2 passengers of Dh25,220 plus Dh270 for taxes, please confirm your acceptance and note that payment for this is also required by April 13, as the air fare component of this quotation will also be increased on April 13".

I informed then that I had a written confirmation that this could be paid at the end of April! I am so upset to think that I will probably have to cancel my father's surprise birthday. I am deeply concerned by Emirates' lack of customer service.
From Ms Jane Barr

Mr John Felix, Senior Vice President, Emirates Holidays, responds:
Following an internal investigation, we can confirm that, due to an oversight from our side, we quoted a wrong price for a holiday to Kuala Lumpur, flying Business Class including seven night's accommodation and private transfers for six people, back in January 2009.

The quote provided was Dh43,238 plus taxes instead of Dh77,890 plus taxes. Emirates Holidays has recognised the error in pricing the package and, of course, following her booking and payment of a deposit, we will be honouring the quoted price, and absorbing the difference of Dh34,652, as a gesture of goodwill.

With regards to the additional passengers, her request came to us more than two months later (March 23) and was therefore handled separately. No cost was discussed at that point, only a confirmation that there is space available to add two more persons to the group.

As per our terms and conditions, prices are subject to change to reflect adjustments in fares and international rates of exchange. Therefore, there is no guarantee that a quotation given today remains the same over a period of time.

Consequently we will not be able to offer the same 'per head' price for the additional passengers that has been applied to the first group of six.

We deeply regret the inconvenience caused to Ms Jane and her extended family in organising her father's 60th birthday and we would like to offer our sincere apologies.

Ms Barr responds:
I had a quotation from Etihad for exactly the same date, flying business class in the same hotel, same rooms for Dh44,000 for 6 people. I

do not believe that both airlines could have quoted incorrect pricing! I would like Emirates to comment on this. Emirates says, "her request came to us more than two months later (March 23) and was therefore handled separately."

This booking was handled by the same team in Emirates to which they knew they were to add two people to our original booking, the time frame is irrelevant.

They are correct to say, "No cost was discussed at that point, only a confirmation that there is space available to add two more persons to the group," but it was not just that they told me there was space, I actually booked these two people and was given a reference number. So how was I to know the price had gone up!

They then further state, "As per our terms and conditions, prices are subject to change." I would like to know how a passenger is quoted these "terms and conditions". I was not told this either verbally or in writing!

Emirates admitted it was their error. So how can they justify not honouring those two people? Do they think just because they quote, "As per our terms and conditions" (four months after the original booking and deposit was made) that makes everything okay?

Mr Felix responds:
We cannot comment on the quotation given to her by Etihad. We can only confirm that, due to an oversight from our side, we quoted a wrong price for the package she requested.

We received her request to cancel her holiday. Of course no cancellation fees will be applied and her deposit will be refunded in full immediately. We deeply regret the inconvenience caused to her and we would like to offer our sincerest apologies.