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Disappointed Emirates Passenger Awarded £6,870

For Want of Truth in Advertising

A New Zealand surgeon has been awarded nearly £7,000 ($8,737) in compensation after an August 2022 business class flight from Auckland to London aboard an Emirates Boeing 777 failed to meet expectations set by the airline’s advertising.

Dr. Mark Moran argued in New Zealand’s Disputes Tribunal that the business class seats to which he and his wife were consigned were “worn out,” did not recline into the advertised flat position, were less cushioned than those depicted in Emirates’ ads, and were without mini-bars and internet connections—all advertised as Emirates business class standard amenities. Dr. Morgan further contended that his and Mrs. Morgan’s seats were afflicted with faulty entertainment systems.

Emirates website states: “Choose a drink from your personal minibar. And sit back to endless entertainment on your widescreen.”

Dr. Morgan submitted photos and links showing what he was led to believe were the accommodations he and his wife would enjoy aboard their daylong flight from the antipodes to England’s green and pleasant land. The doctor also presented quotes excerpted from New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act, which states unequivocally that it is illegal for businesses to present false or misleading information regarding their respective products and services.

Emirates artfully argued that its fine print states the airline cannot “guarantee any particular aircraft will be used” and that the company makes no guarantees pertaining to in-flight entertainment, services, or advertised meals.

In the end, the Disputes Tribunal sided with Dr. Morgan. Referee (Judge) Laura Mueller ruled Emirates’ marketing materials were intended to “lure customers away from other airline services” by depicting a level of service aboard Emirates aircraft that “essentially did not exist.”

Mueller further set forth that the Morgans’ experience was not a one-off, agreeing the couple’s complaint had been rightfully prompted by Emirates advertising a service “that they [Emirates] were rarely delivering.”

Ms. Mueller stated, also, that promotional materials with which Emirates plies Kiwi air-travelers feature photographs of updated and new business class seating—features she ruled are “not in place in the older aircraft that Emirates flies to New Zealand.”

Dr. Morgan called his £6,870 settlement “less than a drop in the ocean” for the highly-successful United Arab Emirates carrier. Dr. Morgan added, however: “Having said that, there could be thousands of passengers in New Zealand who were affected, who’d be able to make the same claim.”

In the end, Morgan voiced hopes that Emirates would clarify its advertising, suggesting: “They should be upfront about what you are likely to get.”

Emirates initially offered Dr. and Mrs. Morgan a partial refund of $786 NZD ($488.50 USD), arguing that the service the couple had experienced occasioned only a five-percent reduction in Emirates’ customary quality.

Speaking to the subject of his employer’s advertising and Dr. Morgan’s case, Emirate’s New Zealand general managers submitted: “These articles enable Emirates’ business to function effectively, in that they afford it a degree of flexibility when navigating the complexities of cross-border air travel.”

FMI: www.emirates.com


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