Emirates FlyDubai Code sharing – the 4 digits scam

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  • mendiaux

    I recently met some fellow travellers on some Emirates flight from Europe to Dubai and we took the opportunity to share our impressions regarding the in-flight services on Emirates flights

    All of them were sharing my feeling that the in-flight services on Emirates flights had degraded. Indeed, for example, Emirates, on the flight from Europe to Dubai, has now cancelled, for the economy class the welcome drink, aperitif, that was usually served before the lunch or dinner.

    Of course you still may request a drink, but you then have this awful feeling to ask something « too much ».

    We all then agree that the quality of the lunch or dinner served during the flight had also gone down as far as the presentation and the food quality and quantity are concerned. The best exemple is the breakfast : no more omellet but some dry sandwich !!
    But this is only a detail compared to the new trap Emirates has now prepared for his « valued » customers. I am speaking of the Emirates-FlyDubai code sharing : the four digit scam !

    Never on earth would some reasonable person have thought to compare the Emirates in flight service with the NO service offered on FlyDubai. No one except Emirates management who has now established a code sharing between Emirates and FlyDubai !!
    Basically you buy an Emirates ticket, paying an « always rising » Emirates price, to eventually fly on a Fly Dubai narrow body plane.
    The trap is there : we discover that a four (4) digit Emirates flight means a Fly Dubai flight.
    But then why to keep posting those flights on Emirates website ? Isn’t this tantamount to fraud misleading the customers ?

    I personally had this disastrous experience :
    I bought an Emirates airline ticket Brussels to Yangoon via Dubai early September 2019. I then received an e-mail from Emirates stating that from December 10, 2019, this flight would be operated by FlyDubai ( with the mention, Thanks to fly with Emirates) I contacted Emirates office asking compensation for such downgrading and I was replied that if this change was not acceptable for me, I could seek a refund of the ticket. Obviously I could not accommodate such request a few days before traveling and having already set all my program in the stopover in Dubai. Furthermore, to buy a new ticket a few days before traveling means all the tickets left are much more expensive.

    So I decided to embark on this new adventure not realising that the Dubai to Yangon flight is almost lasting seven (7) hours !!
    Every one has already experienced those Low Cost airlines within Europe ( EasyJet, Ryanair,…) or Asia but that must have been for an « regional » flight not exceeding three (3) hours : but with FlyDubai, we are talking of a seven (7) hours flight , like a trans-Atlantic flight.
    With a night flight as well.
    The flight between Dubai and Yangon was the first part of the experience. As an Emirates flyer – I bought an Emirates only ticket – I was offered a kind of cheap lunch in a carton box with a small water cup ; I asked for some extra water, we were on a seven (7) hours flight, but I was told that I had to pay for extra water !!! and the same for the coffee that was not included in the so-called « lunch box » !

    First experience , welcome on FlyDubai where you have to pay for a basic service like water !
    Crew was nice, plane looks new, but leg space was reduced and no flight entertainment for seven (7) hours. I however did survive.

    The return flight was much more difficult ! The flight was supposed to depart at 1.30 am. Boarding was successfully completed at 00.30 am and I was getting prepared for a night flight.

    Suddenly the Captain announced a technical problem that was going to delay the departure. They were searching for an Engineer. It soon appeared that having an Engineer on disposal at air destination seems an unnecessary cost for FlyDubai as they could not find any Engineer to fix the technical default.
    Around 3.30 am, the runway was going to close, so we were told to leave the plane and advised that we were going to be put in an hotel until further notice.
    The ground staff did marvelous and very professional job : Hotel was nice and clean ; we had access to the breakfast and the lunch buffet.

    At 5.00 pm a bus came to collect us and we were told that the plane was repaired and the new departing time was fixed at 8.00 pm. Unfortunately, no plane, no crew was at the gate for boarding !! Obviously no one was also at the gate to inform the passengers about this delay( ground staff is also an un-necessary cost for FlyDubai)

    Crew and plane then reported around 9.00 pm and we took off around 10.00 pm with another two hours delay. We eventually arrived in Dubai the next morning around 2.00 am with a 20 hours delay !!!
    One can easily imagine the mess in the connecting flights : I had to then wait another six (6) hours in Dubai airport in the middle of the night for my connecting flight to Brussels.

    Asking at the connection desk a place to have some rest, I was told that I was a FlyDubai passenger and accordingly Emirates staff could, or will, do nothing for me ! No more code-sharing at this juncture !!!

    I obviously registered a complaint when I was back in Belgium based on the EC regulations and arguing that such downgrading from Emirates to FlyDubai is like downgrading from Business class to Economy class but I was told by Emirates ‘customer” service that EC regulation was not applicable ( although I bought the ticket in Europe and that my journey started and finished in Europe) and I received some additional mileages on my frequent flyer card as a mere compensation for this mess in lieu of the 600 Euros that the EC Regulation is stipulating for any delay exceeding six (6) hours ( the delay of my flight exceeding three (3) times the EC stipulated delay )

    So fellow « frequent flyers », be careful when your Emirates flight number is a four (4) digit number; beware of the trap : you shall pay Emirates costs and experience a « never again « flight with FlyDubai. There must be other options unless you are prepared to the same experience.


    Caveat Emptor applies. Code-shares are widely regarded as a scam. Whilst that may not be true in all cases, it does often result in a lower level of service as I found once when I booked a flight with an EI flight number only to find that at short notice they’d decided to use Vueling as the operator. Unfortunately I had no choice as I had time constraints.

    A lot of people know that 4 digit flight numbers are often – but not always – an indicator that it is a codeshare flight.

    As far as EC261 is concerned, you would not be entitled to compensation for downgrading from an EK flight to a FlyDubai, that would only apply if there was a cabin downgrade.

    I cannot, from what you have written, see why you would not be entitled to €600 EC261 compensation for the delay. Unless you had separate tickets for each leg or had planned to voluntarily stop over (>24 hours) in DXB, then compensation should apply. The problem was technical and thus deemed to be within the control of the airline.

    Apart from other devious practices, EK are notorious for trying to avoid paying compensation. What matters is your arrival time into your final destination.


    You wouldnt get EC261 for a flight from Yangon to Brussels via Dubai. It only covers flights leaving the EU.

    I don’t remember the last time I got a welcome drink on Emirates in economy.

    As for codeshares, buyer beware indeed. It happens everywhere, for example if you mess up you can book QR and get stuck on some old BA antique.


    Dear Mendiaux,

    If Emirates’ service has declined in Economy,wouldn’t its service and FlyDubai’s be the same?


    I cannot, from what you have written, see why you would not be entitled to €600 EC261 compensation for the delay.
    I am of course, as pointed out, completely wrong (thanks Simon).
    EU261 applies to flights departing the EU, but has to be an EU carrier into the EU.


    Emirates has become a third rate airline. Look at all the scathing reviews on Skytrax and other sites. And yet, miraculously it still maintains its 4 star status on Skytrax. It should learn a few lessons from Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines, my 2 favorite airlines.


    Hi mendiaux, and welcome to the forum …..

    You’re right about codeshares, and how the practice sails close to the wind in regard to trading and advertising regulations.
    Particularly when the booking process is designed to make the codeshare as difficult to recognize as is Ryanair’s terms and conditions to read.

    Now that you’ve been burned, learn from the experience and turn it to your advantage.
    Like me and Ryanair, once bitten twice shy, once you know their game I’ve invariably come out on top.

    Codeshare is no different. Take a bit more time and do a bit of research. I’ve been offered cheap flights on China Eastern and found that the operating airline is a favourite of mine , KLM.
    And on the LHR – HKG , you could find a BA deal , do a bit of research and hey presto you’re sitting on a Cathay seat instead !

    So take my advice, learn your lesson and play the game by using their rules to your gain !!

    4 users thanked author for this post.


    I have clients who use the Fly Dubai connections on EK flight numbers all the time and massively made their lives easier with through ticketing & protected connections. Also gives better connecting opportunities to many places. So it isn’t a scam – any decent agent will always highlight the different carriers when codeshares are being used (and clearly highlight them). If you are booking direct online it is your responsibility to look and understand what you are booking – any codeshare will show the operating carriers when looking online – you just need carefully and at the whole booking page.

    Once on a codeshare operated flight you are under the control of the operating carrier. there isn’t any compensation due under EU regulations and likewise the booking was fulfilled under the contract you entered into with Fly Dubai as the codeshare partner.

    So the lesson for future – whenever booking online – clearly understand what you are booking and look at the notes/details to see who the operating carriers are. If using an agent make sure they clearly show the operating carriers


    So the lesson for future – whenever booking online – clearly understand what you are booking and look at the notes/details to see who the operating carriers are. If using an agent make sure they clearly show the operating carriers

    Many years ago when code-sharing first appeared there was no obligation for airlines to display a flight operated by another carriers.

    Following objects from consumer bodies it was mandated (originally in N America and the EU) that the operating carrier be specified which of course is the case today.

    I mentioned N America/EU above because some countries and/or airlines were slow to follow.


    They are generally displayed in GDSs with a codeshare symbol and they will show for example SA*LH4264 where SA is the metal and LH is the marketing flight.
    The booked segment and the flight information will show something like

    Operated by South African Airways
    Cabin crew South African Airways
    Cockpit crew South African Airways
    Marketing flight LH4264
    Operating flight SA264

    Unfortunately the booking agent if there is one will not always advise the customer, or in the case of OLTAs, the customer may not notice or understand the information.
    The same information will be shown on the itinerary.

    In the same way as you can lead a horse to water, you can give a client an itinerary, but you can’t make them read it.

    In can remember the problems caused by post-midnight departures :


    Every night, people would turn up 24 hours late, even when we wrote on the itinerary :


    “In can remember the problems caused by post-midnight departures :”

    So can I – only got caught out once – BKK – LHR when the BA flight was a post midnight departure. Only had my ticket changed foc, because the party of 3 in front of me where…… off duty BA crew … even the airlines staff would get caught out.

    Mind you, I’ve got a past midnight departure back home next week… with a multi hour layover in the Pier bar and restaurant before hand.. not only the clock I have to watch.. 🙂 happy days….


    Martyn mentioned “the problems caused by post-midnight departures”.

    Worse in my opinion was my Hong Kong to Doha flight once years ago on Qatar Airways – the departure time was given, believe it or not, as “0000”. In those days you picked up your ticket from their Hong Kong office and I definitely asked them, “What evening is that?” Wisely I thought.

    1 user thanked author for this post.
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