Desperate to Fly out of Dubai

January 10, 2012

in Airport Stories

After spending a wonderful four weeks on a road trip along the east coast of Australia, we boarded our Emirates plane in Sydney to Munich via Dubai.

After an uneventful 12 hour flight nearly all the way to Dubai, we learned that we were unable to land in Dubai due to fog. We would instead be landing in Abu Dhabi.

After arriving in Abu Dhabi we were told we could not leave the plane because we would shortly be flying to Dubai International Airport (DXB). Well, everyone believed that at first. After five hours sitting in a not-moving plane in Abu Dhabi (we sat in this plane for 17 hours altogether by now), and with increasingly unnerved FAs, we were finally told to leave the plane.

After arriving in an otherwise deserted departure hall with a closed shop, it quickly became obvious that there weren’t enough seats for everyone. Luckily we were traveling as a couple, so we could defend the seat if one of us had to get up to go somewhere. To make a long story short, after another seven hours in Abu Dhabi we were flown to DXB, a flight of 20 minutes duration.

After we arrived there we were told to go to the transit counter. Well, everyone else in the whole world had been told that too. A lot of planes were stranded in DXB. In front of the 14 counters a plethora of people were standing in queue. In queue? No, no queues here! A huge unorganized crowd. In front of me a British guy with Middle Eastern accent complaining and babbling about his lawyer he would call the first thing in the morning. Behind me an Arabian fellow with a comfort zone way smaller than my own.

I spent a whole seven hours in this crowd before getting to the clerk, when I learned why this was taking so long. Apparently the computer system for the luggage was out of order too. So the clerks had to call the luggage guys for every single bag over the phone. On top of that it seemed they had gathered the most inexperienced personnel they could find. She gave me a reservation for a flight another 20 hours in the future. I enquired about a hotel (we hadn’t seen a bath or a bed for over 48 hours now) but was told that there weren’t any now, I should come back in an hour. In a mixture of disbelief and anger I asked, “How do you expect me to do this? I was standing here in line for seven hours to get to you.” She only replied that she didn’t care, I should come back in an hour.

My fiancée, who waited in the back of the crowd for the whole time, nearly bust in tears after hearing this. But she quickly recovered, rushed into a lounge without being bothered at the entry counter (we were flying Eco), told some employee she needed two blankets, and left with them. No one even asked a question.

We spent the rest of the night on the floor between two gates. In the morning I tried to get a hotel once again. The picture at the counters hadn’t changed a bit. No hotel for us. So we spent the whole day in Dubai Airport. We hadn’t showered or changed clothes in over 50 hours now when we finally boarded the plane to Munich. While I don’t have a problem with that when I’m trekking in Himalaya, I sure do have a problem in the midst of civilization. During boarding we talked with another couple that got a hotel even though they waited in the same crowd at the same time in front of the counters.

We arrived in Munich on Sunday afternoon without luggage instead of Saturday morning as we had planned. (Surprised? Not really.) My suitcase arrived on Tuesday; my fiancée’s arrived on Wednesday.

Reaction from Emirates? “We are looking into your complaint and getting back to you.” Four years later they still haven’t.

I don’t blame those folks for the weather, but I blame them for their exceedingly unorganised behaviour. You’d think one of the largest airports in the world with all the luxury around could handle waiting queues.

My conclusion: Never ever again will I fly with Emirates or have a stopover in DXB, even if I have to pay a small fortune in order to avoid this.

– George

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