One customer had enough with the misleading advertising claims of airlines, and when they bought a pricey business class ticket and wound up with old seats that didn’t lie flat which were different than what they’d been sold, they sued and won. They’re a hero to everyone who has ever been promised one thing, delivered another, and told by their airline to pound sand.
Airlines sell the quality of their premium products. They invest in fully flat business class seats, frequently with direct aisle access and even doors for privacy.
They display these photos to encourage customers to upgrade, often times on routes where those products aren’t even available. How many times have you see that business suite photo when being pitched a paid upgrade on a domestic flight?
And airlines promote their most premium products even when they aren’t fully rolled out yet. When United introduced its “Polaris” business class in 2016 they confused customers day after day. Polaris was understood to mean the new seats with direct aisle access, but it was just a rebranding of business class. I received a steady stream of emails from customers telling me I was wrong, their flight would have the new business seats, with the ‘proof’ being their reservation confirmation showing “Polaris” on it.
- On the one hand airlines sell the idea of these products, to get customers to choose the airline and pay a premium
- But when they fail to deliver these products, they fall back on the fine print of their contracts of carriage saying that equipment isn’t guaranteed, all they are ‘really selling you’ is transportation from A to B
- In other words, their advertising it lying
One New Zealander had enough and got a court to agree, awarding US$8468 to be paid by March 27.
- The man purchased Emirates business class which was supposed to entail lie flat seats
- But he was presented with Emirates’ Boeing 777 angled seats. Even the latest generation Emirates business class is behind world standard, but the workhorse of the fleet still has seats that aren’t fully flat. (Emirates business class is much worse than most people assume, they have a huge brand halo off of first class.)
- The seats were also “less cushioned than those shown in Emirates’ advertising, and the entertainment system was not a new, upgraded system, and “due to its age, malfunctioned”.” They expected a minibar? A decent premium product shouldn’t require you to serve your own drinks.
These are the ‘new’ Emirates 777 business seats, finally fully flat but in a dense configuration
Emirates made two arguments.
- Their contract of carriage allows for aircraft substitutions compared to what’s advertised. However the product advertised wasn’t even generally being flown on the Auckland – Dubai route at the time and it wasn’t just the aircraft that was different than expected but also “services and Amenities.
Emirates said they had to use the better planes on other routes because they were losing money flying to Auckland. I guess they made up for it by charging for things they did not deliver?
- No one can tell the difference between angled flat and fully flat anyway, the old Emirates business class is great! I don’t even know what to say to this.
Emirates has to cover “a partial refund of the price of the tickets” plus the cost of a one way upgrade to first class paid for by the passengers in order to receive flat seats.
A similar result woul be unlikely in the Unites States.
(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)