Emirates passenger awarded almost £7,000 after complaining about ‘worn out’ seat on plane

An Emirates advertisement of a business class seat onboard a Boeing 777-300  (Emirates)
An Emirates advertisement of a business class seat onboard a Boeing 777-300 (Emirates)

A business class passenger has won a case against Emirates after he argued his long-haul flight experience did not match the airline’s advertising.

New Zealand surgeon Mark Morgan has been awarded NZ$13,555 (£6,953) after complaining that his and his wife’s seats on a flight from Auckland to London last August were “worn out” and not up to the standard advertised.

Mr Morgan argued, in New Zealand’s Disputes Tribunal, that the couple’s seats did not recline to lie flat, were less cushioned than those shown in Emirates advertising, and that there was no mini-bar or internet connection, Stuff reported.

He also argued that the couple also had a faulty entertainment system that looked nothing like the advertising.

Advertising the “refreshed” two-class Boeing 777 aircraft, Emirates states on its website: “Choose a drink from your personalal minibar. And sit back to endless entertainment on your widescreen.”

But the aircraft used for the flight from Auckland to London is an older model.

Mr Morgan submitted photos and links showing what he was told his seats would look like, alongside quotes from New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act which said it is illegal for a business to present false or misleading information.

Emirates argued that its fine print states it cannot “guarantee any particular aircraft will be used” and it does not make any guarantees about in-flight entertainment, advertised meals or in-flight services.

But the Disputes Tribunal sided with Mr Morgan, with referee Laura Mueller stating that Emirates’ marketing materials were intended to “lure customers away from other airline services” for a service that “essentially did not exist”.

Ms Mueller said Mr Morgan’s experience wasn’t a one-off, and his case was the result of Emirates advertising a service “that they were rarely delivering”.

She said the promotional materials shown to travellers in New Zealand were of an updated and new business class seat - a service that is “not in place in the older aircraft that Emirates flies to NZ”.

The advertisements showed business class onboard the newer Boeing 777-300 aircraft.

She said “all your comforts are within reach”.

Mr Morgan spent NZ$13,000 on the flight seats, and therefore won back everything he spent on the long-haul flights.

He told the Australian Financial Review that his win was “less than a drop in the ocean” for the United Arab Emirates carrier.

“Having said that, there could be thousands of passengers in New Zealand who were affected, who’d be able to make the same claim.”

The airline had offered a partial refund of NZ$786, arguing that Mr Morgan’s service was only a 5 per cent reduction in quality.

Emirates has been approached for comment.