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Could Emirates be the next 5 star airline?

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Shanwick1249 - 17/11/2011 12:07 BST

Tim Clark's comments are certainly disingenuous. His A330 and A340 cabins are the same as Qatar's - that is to say woeful, thanks to their non-flat torture seats. EK better make sure that something superior arrives with the A350 and in the meantime could do worse than find a way to replace the Airbus seats it currently has.

If Iberia can have flat beds in an A340 than anyone can do it.

Emirates suffers from a terrible lack of consistency in its 777 cabins (and it's been that way for years), random onboard service, the appalling 10-abreast seat layout in Economy and the increasingly bad DXB transit experience.

The EK A380 fleet shows how air travel should be done, but too much else about EK does not live up to the high standards the airline says it sets itself.

Rather than moaning at Airbus, EK should get its own house in order first.

- 17/11/2011 13:38 BST

Think Mr. T. C. Lark is yearning for his past ..... he used to work for Gulf Air in the 70/80's before skipping off to Dubai to join the fledgling Emirates. However he obviously didn't want to lose his roots .... on the premier routes GF used to fly the 'Five Star Tristar' !
Even had an on-board bar between First Class and Economy ... no Business class in them days !!

DanDare1975 - 17/11/2011 13:40 BST

I totally agree with Shanwick's and other's comments about inconsistency on Emirates. The A330/A340 business class seats are awful. A couple of years ago I had to endure 15 hours on one when I flew from Dubai to Brisbane direct, I'd say they are really just on a par with most premium economy offerings I've tried, for example BA World Traveller Plus. Thankfully more recently EK have deployed the 777-300ER on the Brisbane route so things have improved, but only on that route, they are still using the A330/A340 on some other routes. I can't understand why they didn't refurbish them with better cabins, I know they are going to be replaced, but not for a while yet.

It's not just the aircraft cabins though. I've also been totally unimpressed with EK's inconsistent service when I've flown with them. It seems to depend on where the crew are based and where the catering is done. Surely though they should have standard which their crew and catering vendors stick to. Sometimes the food is really good, sometimes it's awful, sometimes the crew are pleasant, helpful and do their job well, sometime the opposite. I would also say that EK's lounges are inconsistent. The lounges in the UK and in Australia are excellent, but I think the lounge in Dubai is pretty rubbish, plus it's often overcrowded, that seems silly when it's your home airport. Several times I have had to queue at the Dubai lounge for more than 45 mins to use a shower, that doesn't happen when I fly BA or SQ.

In economy things are not much better - I don't like the idea of 10 across seating on a 777 when most other airlines only seat 9 across. It's too much of a crush. It makes the whole experience of flying 'up the back' even less enjoyable. There are also not enough washrooms, there are always queues.

Then there is the whole experience of changing planes at DXB. Not enough stands with airbridges into the terminal (although to be fair that is changing soon with the new concourse opening) and psychopathic bus drivers who seem to be hell bent on trying to injure or kill you on the often torturously long and convoluted journey to the terminal, which has a habit of making you late for your connection. Then there's the often slow security queues.

I could go on but I wont. 5 star ? Don't make me laugh. Not consistently even as good as most 4 star airlines in my experience so far, although I can see that a lot of money is being spent to improve things so maybe they'll get there at some point in the future, until that happens though the moaning is completely unjustified.

RBrown9 - 17/11/2011 15:22 BST

I agree with the comments regarding EK's inconsistency in both product and service. The business class lounge in Dubai is a nightmare during peak hours and there have been instances where I have not been able to find a seat. In my experience, the service on short haul sectors (e.g. DXB/BAH - 1 hour) is consistently excellent. On the other hand, the service I have had on some long haul flights (in First Class) could only be described as inattentive.

In terms of product, the newest First Class offering (on newer 777 aircraft and the A380) is superb. Business Class on both these aircraft is adequate and certainly on a par with Business Class on Qatar Airway's widebody Airbus fleet. However, on the A330/340-300, I agree that the Business Class offering is more on a par with Premium Economy. There is no excuse not to retrofit these aircraft - the A340-500 aircraft in the EK fleet were the first to feature First Class suites.

What would completely disqualify EK in my view from a 5 star rating would be their attitude to customers when things go wrong (and they do) - in my experience (and I use EK frequently so have had several poor experiences), the response to any written complaint seems to be arrogant bordering on rude.

With regards to Skytrax criteria for "5 star" status, I am cynical. I have flown Qatar Airways a number of times and would rate them as good but not significantly better than EK (assuming you get the right crew and right aircraft). In terms of consistency of product, Qatar Airways tend to fly relatively long routes using narrow body Airbus Aircraft. The business class is decent for a flight of up to three hours but five hours is a stretch. And on most of the same routes, EK is offering the more spacious configuration using wide body aircraft.

I guess, it is all down to individual experience and I do not place much store in the Skytrax ratings.

alistairNicoll - 18/11/2011 13:26 BST

No I doubt it if Mr Clark puts it all down to the planes.

He should take a long hard look t the on board service offered by Qatar and compare that to his own product (although I m sure that he personally gets well looked after on board his own airline). Airline Execs rarely experience the service on their own airline as the rest of their customer and here lies the root of the problem

austline - 20/11/2011 22:40 BST

Dandare, Good comments.

I used to always fly EK to Los/Acc x 5 times a year, after very inconsistent service, A350/777 to Dxb, 777/A340 to Los or Acc, average seating especially the A340, the J class lounge in Dxb - commonly referred to as the zoo, just terrible - numerous times I could not even get a seat, why EK have not done something to fix it I will never know. The crew sometimes great other times unfriendly. 5 stars no way.

Reluctant to use QR as feel that it will be similar.

I now fly Oneworld J RTW, QF A380 to Lhr, First lounge Mel is brilliant, seating, food and service always great. BA down to Los, First lounge Lhr, no wait for showers or a seat, BA 747 CW I always seem to have good flight, and then back to Lhr on BA from Los/Abv or Acc.
My only negative comment is the catering on BA which I am led to believe is being slowly upgrade.
Longer journey slightly more expensive but way better experience.

RBrown9 - 29/11/2011 13:49 BST

Being "5 star" has to include decent customer service. I have just spent more than an hour on the telephone to Skywards trying to upgrade a Business Class Ticket NBO/BAH to First Class. I purchased the ticket online at what seemed to be a very competitive fare (albeit the only fare that was displayed). My understanding is that there are two categories of fares being Skywards Saver and Skywards Flex. However, I have been told that the fare I booked is an economy class fare and hence, although it is for a Business Class ticket, I cannot upgrade this. I do not know if Emirates have "moved the goalposts" but I understand from their own website that all promotional fares are classified as "Skywards Saver Fares" which can be upgraded with additional miles. But try explaining that to the person in their call centre who during the course of a call lasting more than one hour spent most of her time trying to lecture me on "reading the ticketing rules" which upon review do not indicate that the ticket cannot be upgraded. One hour and ten minutes on the telephone and I have given up. If Emirates consider this an acceptable way to treat a customer even if they have all the frills in the world they would not deserve more than a one star rating in my book.

SBingham - 30/11/2011 09:08 BST

Having just taken a first class flight with emirates in the A380 i would say they have a long way to go before they are justified in reaching the status of a 5 star airline.....even business class looked cramped and the on board lounge and bar was a joke.

EdTraveller - 30/11/2011 09:31 BST

So which airlines are better at providing A380 First class than EK ?

LeTigre - 30/11/2011 10:41 BST

All of them.

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