A New Zealand man has successfully obtained a judgement for over USD8000 from Emirates after he successfully argued that the Dubai-based carrier falsely advertised a business class product that largely does not serve the New Zealand market and instead offers an inferior product, thereby constituting deceptive adverting.
Emirates Hit With $8,000 Judgement Over Inferior Business Class Seat In New Zealand
Mark Morgan, who lives in Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island, splurged for business class tickets on his trip to England with his wife. Morgan claims what pushed him to book business class was adverting from Emirates directed toward the New Zealand market that showed plush seats that were fully lie-flat when reclined.
But when Morgan stepped onboard his 17-hour flight from Auckland to Dubai, he found his cabin featured the older 777-300 seats that are not even horizontally lie-flat. Furthemore, the seats were not well-padded and the in-flight-entertainment system was broken. Upon further investigation, he found that Emirates does not even use its newer business class seats on flights to New Zealand.
He filed a complaint with the Disputes Tribunal, which is akin to a small claims court. Emirates responded that it had not violated New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act because the small print in its advertisements warned that the equipment may vary.
But Laura Mueller, who is a “referee” within the Disputes Tribunal (like a judge), did not buy Emirates’ claim.
“Emirates advertised a business class service that consumers were very unlikely to receive. This was the result of advertising a service that they were rarely delivering, not due to an occasional or one-off change of aircraft due to operational requirements.
“The promotional materials were based on an updated/new business class seat and service that is not in place in the older aircraft that Emirates flies to NZ. The Fair Trading Act 1986 prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct in trade. The advertising of a service that Emirates knew would unlikely be delivered is misleading and deceptive.”
Interestingly, Emirates argued that it was running its New Zealand service at a loss and could not use its latest planes. It also said that Morgan’s seat reclined to 166.1º
“To the ordinary air-traveller the seat made available is equivalent to a lie-flat seat.”
Editor’s view: I can assure you this is false. I’ve flown on that seat (coincidentally to Auckland) and it is hard and certainly not fully-life flat. There’s a huge difference. Emirates’ defense is laughable.
Emirates was ordered to pay Morgan NZD13,555 (which reflects both some compensatory damages and also the difference he paid to upgrade to first class on one leg so he could actually have a true lie-flat seat.
Emirates owes a New Zealand man over 8,000USD after selling him on a business class seat that never was in the schedule to fly to Auckland in the first place. Morgan successfully argued that Emirate’s adverting consisted a deceptive business practice. His case may set a precedent for other claimants in New Zealand.
image: Emirates’ “new” business class – similar to what EK advertised in New Zealand…but did not deliver.