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They stole our seats... and wouldn't move

They stole our seats... and wouldn't move

Old Aug 11, 10, 9:56 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2010
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Angry They stole our seats... and wouldn't move

After 9 months of backpacking, travelling mostly by overnight busses with super discount airfares we booked our last flight home. Phuket-BKK-SYD.

We opted for a full fare economy ticket on EK which wasnt the cheapest, but most direct and seemingly a "better" airline than the cheaper options.

We were really happy that on the BKK-SYD leg (EK 481, 777), we were allocated seats 18B & 18C, probably due to checking-in 10 hours early in USM. This was the closest i'd ever been to the front (having never flown biz) and also got the thumbs up on a Seat-Guru check by not having the the entertainment CPU under the seat.

On boarding we found a middle aged couple in our seats. We did the "i think you might be in our seats" manuver where you also point at your boarding pass and and then at the seat number on the roof while mumbling politely.

They proceeded to explain that there was a mix up and despite their boarding passes reading 45B and 47F (from memory) they had requested these seats when the booked 3 months ago and their travel agent had confirmed this on their itinery.

At this stage people were banking up behind us (we were blocking the isle) and the flight attendant came over and said she'd take care of it. Seeing our boarding passes, she went over and asked them to move, while we waited a few seats down.

She came back and said "they dont want to move, so would you mind terribly sitting in their seats, come with me" and started heading down the back.

I responed that actually we did mind, as they are our seats and we were looking forward to sitting up the front (quick to get to the customs queue etc), not to mention the fact that we didn't want to be separated. So she went to ask them again and the still refused to budge aparantly stating again that the seats were written on their itinery. When we delclined to be reseated down the back, we were asked to wait near the emergency exit while someone from EK ground staff would come on board to sort it out.

The ground staffer asked the couple again to move and came back empty handed, except to say that he had found us 2 seats together 34E & 34F and he was really sorry.

I complained that this was not right: We had the boarding passes, they didn't, they should have sorted this out at check-in, rather than just squatting in our seats. He apologised again and said "we can't force them to move".
I suggested that given they are choosing not to move the people in our seats, they should reseat us in better seats rather than worse seats and he said that business class was full. When pressed, he conceded that 1st class was not full, but "you can't do two jumps". My gf suggested that why not then put someone from biz into first class, and us into biz and he responded "its too late for that now, we are about to take off soon"

At this stage I was very conscious that everyone else seemed to be seated, and I didn't want to be that pest who delays the plane. On the other hand I was really annoyed that these rude people who'd taken our seats were looking like getting there way, and EK would prefer to help them than us. The ground staffer then suggested that if we kindly be seated now in 34, he would ensure the FAs would sort everything out to our satisfaction once the plane had taken off. Having no other choice we moved down the back. The seats were not actually that different except that my gf was stuck with the entertainment CPU taking half her legroom and they were further down the plane. The problem was that I was seething at both these rude people and EK for doing nothing. More the principle than anything.

I watched a movie to distract me, but was still thinking angrily about it through the whole movie. After the movie I realised the FAs had done nothing to sort things out, so went down to the back and spoke to one. He seemed unaware, but his colleagues filled him in. Surprisingly, he went and asked the couple to move again, and they refused again. He apologised repeatedly, but said there was nothing that could be done, except that he can file a request for compensation (ie. chocolates, flowers or duty free voucher) internally on our behalf. We remained seated in 34 for the rest of the flight, and he kindly then bought us 2 glsses of champagne from first class and a 1st class toiletries kit. This was a nice gesture we really apprecaited, but a case of too little too late to remove the sour taste.

Has anyone else had this problem?

What is the best way to express our dissatisfaction to EK?
boilelsewerroom is offline  
Old Aug 11, 10, 10:11 pm
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boilelsewerroom, welcome to FlyerTalk. Please follow the discussion as the thread is moved to our Emirates Forum. Ocn Vw 1K, Moderator, TravelBuzz.
Ocn Vw 1K is offline  
Old Aug 11, 10, 10:43 pm
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Maybe the rules or the laws are different in the UAE or in Thailand, but in the US or in Europe, this would not be tolerated by the airline, and local authorities would be brought on board to sort the situation out, if necessary. If the couple continued to refuse to move to their proper seats, they would be off-boarded. Sounds to me like the Emirates staff simply took the easy way of yielding to those who were most stubborn, right or not.
spainflyer is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 12:00 am
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I can't believe a couple of grown adults thought it was alright to sit in seats that they didn't have boarding passes for.
sdh80 is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 12:17 am
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Sorry to hear that - i believe you acted in fair manner by not letting the entire plane waiting for you.

On the other hand I understand you anger, especially because you did receive the boarding passes for your seats as opposed have the seats assigned months before in "manage your booking" or even "online check-in" which does not give you a guarantee that you will get those seats.

I am surprised that EK's ground staff came on board to solve this. Normally, it is the purser who has the authority to deal with these kinds of issues. He/ she would also have assigned you seats in F, not to speak that he/ she would have taken the right measures to deal with PAX who do not obey to FA's orders.

Was the purse (brown uniform) with you? He / she normally deals in F and J (First and Business) and there is a supervisor for Y (eco)..
GigoloArt is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 2:15 am
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I would have taken two other nice seats, sat down there and refused to move anywhere else but my assigned seats. You would have seen how quickly things would have gotten sorted out.
CalFlyer is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 2:17 am
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Hmm. If the OP indeed had full fare Y tickets, I might have considered asking to deplane and requesting a refund. Potential loss of high revenue tickets may have had some traction but then again based solely on the experience described it may have also gone without too much concern.
ArizonaGuy is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 2:33 am
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Oh come -can't do anything about it??? You must be joking!!! I bet they would have done something about it if the squatters had put themselves into a C seat very quickly. Hey you are issued boarding cards for a reason and if you have a boarding card then the seat is yours - allocated by the airline and held as such in the manifest.

This may sound nasty but that is the reason some times the wrong bodies ended up in the wrong place (prior to DNA times) The straped in bodies were ID'ed via seat number assuming the seat issued was also the one you were supposed to be in. Remember the serviette found in the seat pocket with apparently the big "B" word. Well guess who the go looking for - yes the person holding the boarding pass for THAT seat and not for the "squwatters" because according to the manifest they are sitting elsewhere!!!

This is however not the first time Emirates has shown a lack of common sence. Remember the the passenger who bought a C class ticket and ended up fly eco because someone with the same name checked into his seat and Emirates did nothing to check who really purchased the seat and who was really on board the flight. In the end it apparently turned out to be a case of internal fraud but not very comforting to know god know who can get on the plane and even when discovered on the ground nothing is done to secure who really is onboard.
moeve is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 3:32 am
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I've seen the "we can't do anything" routine quite a bit on Emirates, 2 stick out in particular.

First was when the guy in front of me sat down and reclined his seat fully. I asked the guy to put it forward, he just said "I paid my ticket, I can do what I want". I called the attendant and said 1) I had no space, and more importantly 2) surely as we hadn't yet taken off it was against civil aviation laws for him to have his chair back. They asked him and he said no, said to me they couldn't do anything and walked off! In the end, 5 minutes of me banging my fist on his seat every 2 seconds convinced him he wasn't going to get his sleep.

Next, was a Kuwaiti guy who refused his middle seat because he was going to be between 2 women, he just sat in the next row with his arms crossed scowling whilst the person whose seat he'd stolen went nuts as he'd lost his aisle seat. The staff made the poor guy who'd lost his seat seem like the bad guy when the reality is they just didn't have the guts to take on the Kuwaiti guy.

As someone above said, try that anywhere else in the world and after 20 seconds of polite asking the response would be "sir, you must move or we will call the police to escort you from the plane". Given the reputation Dubai has for zero tolerance from police, I'm surprised the staff don't use the threats more often. It may be down to the fact that many of the staff are young and don't want to take on conflict situations. For all the problems BA has, the one thing I'll give them is their cabin crew know how to get their way on a plane!
DXBPlat is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 3:54 am
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Sorry to hear of this... you can and should have given EK Ground Staff the option of forcing the couple to move to their assign seats or .. you will refuse to fly.. cos you're sick... the airline will have to be delayed and will cost EK $$.

Trouble is, people take it for granted that Thai people are too polite to do anything about it .. and EK cabin crew too are too spineless to do act.
Guy Betsy is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 4:17 am
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I have been living in the Middle East for 5 years and I am not surprised at all…
Typical Kuwaiti/Saudi/ Emirati behavior.
I am sure that we, all living in this part of the world, could tell you dozens of similar stories of how arrogant they are and how bizarre they behave.
I wouldn’t give up… what happened to you, happened in BKK not in DXB, so the local authorities would support you.
plemos is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 5:05 am
Join Date: Nov 2009
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Knowing they are so feeble in their attempts to move passengers why didn't you take up camp in 1st? Of course they can bump you two classes if they really need to, unless you were dressed inappropriately.

If you are an irregular flyer on EK then I wouldn't bother complaining, they won't give financial compensation as they did everything within their contract, and more. You would probably get a gesture of air miles but that probably doesn't float your boat ...

I once has the opposite. I was downgraded from J to Y, so as you can imagine not very pleased to begin with. I did a deal where I could have the set of two seats at the rear of the aircraft, which obviously they had to move some passengers about. They came to my seat and demanded I move, flashing their pre booked seat reservation about. Their boarding pass didn't match, obviously, and mine was correct. They threatened to call then police, kill me and my family whilst blocking the aisle. I, with the support of the CC, told them they don't want the police onboard from DXB especially as they were of Indian descent, but if they really did want to then so be it. They soon scuttled off.
residentx is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 5:26 am
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Originally Posted by residentx View Post
They threatened to call then police, kill me and my family whilst blocking the aisle.
Death threats over a seat on a plane, charming.
cottons is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 5:58 am
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The number of times I have either been asked to move or had to get someone out of my seat on intergulf flights is nuts. On a few occasions it was due to a woman refusing to let me sit next to her and on one, because I would be too close to this Qatari's new bride. Not even sitting next to her. To be fair the EK crew on each occasion tried to sort it out but ultimately they were p*ssing in the wind. They were short flights so I didn't care but you can see what they are up against.
chunk73 is offline  
Old Aug 12, 10, 6:37 am
Join Date: Feb 2010
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Only issues that i have had is booking my seats months in advance only to find that my seats have been given to someone else on check in.
malct is offline  

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