It’s really been a while since I have written a blog post. Hopefully after this I will have more time to write 🙂 My coming back entry will be about my experience last week on booking Emirates Flight tickets. I feel like I need to share this because I found out quite a lot of important information was not updated on the official website. Because of that I booked the flights on the wrong dates. Fortunately, the FREE CHANGE FLIGHT option exists and that saved me from a nightmare of having to sleep at Dubai Airport for days. So the story begins…
Our original plan was to fly from Malaysia to Yerevan, Armenia to visit our Rusian friends with a stopover at Dubai for couple of days. However, in mid July, Armenia closed its borders again due to war situation with Azerbaijan so many flights to Armenia were cancelled.
Then we changed our plan to fly to Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, again with a stopover at Dubai for a couple of days. After checking dates and aligning our schedule, we decided to fly to Dubai on the 29th of July and then take the 96 hours UAE transit visa and fly out from Dubai to Sarajevo on the 1st of August. During my research on the Emirates website with regards to Visa and Dubai Stopover program, everything seemed to be fine. The new normal as expected and for which we are prepared. However, after we purchased the tickets and wanted to proceed with the visa application “SURPRISES” come up!
1. Transit Visa for both 48 and 96 hours are currently suspended
Available visas are only TOURIST SHORT TERM which costs triple the Transit Visa. I called the Emirates Office in KL ( +60362074999 ) to verify. The CS confirmed it and explained that because the Corona test sometimes takes 2 days and because while waiting for the result visitors need to self isolate, so a stopover for short period of time won’t be useful. Very rational and acceptable logic. IF ONLY this information was available on their website. As per 23th July 2020, the STOPOVER page is still active and the Tourist Travelling to Dubai as well as UAE VISA page also do not warn passengers about the suspension of the Transit Visa.
Only after we purchased the tickets, went to Manage my booking, clicked on Apply for UAE VISA page then we saw the NOTE highlighted in Yellow as per below print screen.
2. Stopover Program and DUBAI Connect Program are also currently suspended
Again, no announcement regarding this on their website as if everything is still in place. So after finding out Stopover is not possible for us, I moved our flight from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai to be on the 31st of July. However the transit time at the Airport is about 11 hours (this option is the shortest available currently) so I try to book for DUBAI CONNECT. Only after I called, I was informed that this program was also suspended. And if we are to book the airport hotel though Emirates, the rate is not so wallet friendly…
So we were quite upset with our first experience with Emirates. The main reason we booked Emirates was for the Stopover in Dubai. Otherwise we could have taken Turkish Airlines with similar price range and with a transit that was just 2 hours.
3. Customer Service Not Helpful
It seems like the customer service handling inquiries both via phone or chat on the app were not so well informed of the Emirates latest rules and products. As per below transcript of my chat with one of the CS, she has gave me wrong advice. Luckily, I did my homework before talking to her and did not take all of her advice as it is. It is really annoying if you contacted CS and all they do is just simply reply to your message but are not really answering your questions. Especially if just copy pasting from a script without reading what you asked.
The CS team from Facebook also only replied with general information – as per below chat shown. I mean, in this pandemic situation, I was assuming that the Emirates team would be the first to know the latest updates. Sadly, that’s not the case.
In general, I’m wiling to give them the benefit of the doubt because of the pandemic. Most problems could just be the result of insufficient manpower. But they did fall short of their reputation. Emirates were meant to mean something and I had quite high expectations. In the end, they’re just another airline it seems. I hope they can update their website ASAP to avoid other traveler purchasing a wrong flight tickets.
Beside the bad above, the one good thing about Emirates was that on the 23rd of July they started providing Free Global Cover for COVID-19 to all of their passengers flying from 23 Jul – 31 Oct 2020. Details can be read on their official press release
This is quite good news and very clever marketing. For us, to be honest, it does give a bit of peace of mind. Looking forward to Flying with Emirates for the very first time tomorrow.
For the next post, I will write about our Covid-19 test experience @ sunway hospital. How to get appointmrnt slot, result collection and price. So stay tune!