Emirates Not Honoring Chauffeur Service On Previously Made Bookings

Last week I shared the news that Emirates is no longer offering complimentary chauffeur service to first and business class passengers that didn’t have their tickets issued by Emirates or Qantas.

It’s a disappointing change for those of us booking through partner airlines (especially since I know lots of us book Emirates first class using Alaska miles), though I can also see the logic in it from their perspective. I think that’s a more customer-friendly change than keeping it for all ticket stock and just removing it from award tickets, for example.

Emirates-Chauffeur

Anyway, originally the change was supposed to kick in for bookings made on or after January 1, 2015. Based on what I was told at the time, previously booked tickets would have chauffeur service honored, and that did seem to be the case in practice. In other words, last week people were reporting still seeing the option of booking a chauffeur online.

However, it seems Emirates had a change of heart and won’t offer chauffeur service on previously made reservations. So even if you already have your chauffeur booked, don’t count on it sticking.

I support an airline’s choice to offer customers whatever benefits they’d like, though I do take issue with retroactively making change, as is the case here. The irony is that initially they were going to honor chauffeur service for previously booked tickets, so they’ve actually gone out of their way to make this negative change, unfortunately.

So just a heads up, in case you already had a confirmed chauffeur set up for an Emirates itinerary booked through a partner airline.

If you had an Emirates chauffeur confirmed on a ticket booked through a partner airline, has it been canceled?

Comments

  1. I booked F SIN-DXB-SFO using AS miles in September 2014 for a February flight and my chauffeur bookings are gone. I too get why they’re removing this but it’s pretty horrible customer service to make this change retroactively and not communicate that they’ve canceled your car bookings.

  2. Hope Etihad doesn’t follow suit – I have some flights coming up booked through American, and the chauffeur was one of the main reasons I picked Etihad over Qatar. I understand the reasoning behind the change, but it strikes me as pretty lame to do it retroactively.

    I also worry a little about the slippery slope of offering different amenities to passengers who book through partners, as opposed to passengers who book directly through the airline. Do you think we’ll start to see more of this? (I’m imagining different lounge access rules, priority check-in, etc.)

  3. For those that have already booked and then lost car service without notice – I’d be calling day off asking where the car is and why it is late? As long as you have time for another option seems like that phone call could result in some compensation upon arrival.

  4. @ James — I wouldn’t worry about the precedent it sets for other things, as this has been happening for as long as I can remember. Tons of airlines only offer chauffeur service based on the fare class you’re traveling in.

  5. This is absolutely ridiculous and reflects a very bad customer service. Understandable from a middle-eastern mentality, however.

  6. Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of Alaska losing First awards altogether, unless I missed something First awards arent showing up after March.

  7. @Mark – just because this 1 post doesn’t help you it will certainly help others that read this blog. Just look at the first 2 comments in the thread.

  8. while I think it is poor CS to cancel retroactively, if you made your choice of carrier based on chauffeur service, you have bigger issues than worrying about how to get to the airport now.

  9. Now I’m worried about a reservation I have inbound to AUH via EY and outbound of DXB via QF. I’m relying on QF chauffeur to pick us up in Abu Dhabi or I guess I’ll have to fork over whatever a taxi charges…

  10. @Mark – so you don’t think that the world’s fourth largest airline by passenger kms flown withdrawing a benefit for premium passengers is worthy of mention on a blog about airline premium travel?

    Thanks for the heads up Lucky!

  11. @justin, it’s a while since I have gone from one airport to the other by taxi but it’s not that expensive maybe 50-70 dollars (am sure I will be corrected) if you are travelling in on EY you can use the free bus service to take you to Dubai

  12. I sent a e-mail to Alaska a week and a half ago when I first was made aware of the change, but have yet to hear anything back.

    In my case, I’m questioning the legality of canceling what was a confirmed reservation in my case. The chauffeur service was absolutely taken into account when I decided to fly. There are 5 total people flying premium classes (first and business with a large amount of luggage), so car service to and from the airports at departure, arrival, and stopover adds up to a fairly significant amount of money.

    The reservation showed as confirmed (and I have printouts to prove), so while UAE laws might not protect me, I can’t imagine Alaska has any leg to stand on.

  13. Does anyone know who the head of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is? Also, is Jeff Butler the head of Customer Service for the entire organization?

  14. Looks like Cinderella’s golden chariot has turned into a pumpkin before Midnite eeek!
    Shame on tacky Emirates
    I will book Etihad for my upcoming journey for certain

  15. Don’t think Alaska can/will do anything about it they didn’t make the chauffeur bookings.
    Emirates is being extremely slimy here, cancelling bookings retroactively with no notifications is outright fraud.

  16. are you guys serious about bothering Alaska with this? what do you think they can do? At best they will cancel your ticket without penalty… is that what you want?
    the awards on Emirates are already disappearing… do you want to expedite it or something???

    Please do NOT harass Alaska with this…

  17. Yes, I am serious about contacting Alaska.

    This has real value to me (about $600). Alaska abides by the same laws that other businesses do. We had an agreement on what I was purchasing, I had confirmation of said agreement, and then Alaska’s subcontracted carrier did not abide by a portion of the agreement.

    I did not ask Alaska Airlines for a favor, I am a paying customer, this is business, and they are not complying with our agreement.

  18. By the way, if all Chauffeur services were canceled, it would be a much more difficult argument to make. The fact that they are singling out a segment of their customers, retroactively, is what makes this so egregious.

  19. Harassing Alaska about this isn’t going to do a damn thing.

    Talk with Emirates, otherwise you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    Or, just stop being such an entitled dick and drop it. You’re just going to waste your time.

  20. 1K –

    Another “Big Tough Guy” on an internet message board, way to be original.

    I sure hope you’re not a lawyer, because you appear to know jack shit about this subject.

  21. It’s bad form to renege on previously booked seats, but it makes more sense moving forward to keep the added-value of chauffeur service for those who book directly with Emirates.

  22. Anyone been able to get an Emirates agent to re-instate their chauffeur drive for their booking ?
    Spoke to an emirates supervisor who was willing to lie outright saying non Skyward mile redemptions have never been allowed chauffeur drive and thats always been emirates policy. They are not even willing to accept that they changed policies recently and applied it retroactively, even cancelling existing bookings.

    Guess will have to make Emirates pay some way or the other for using such cheap tactics.

  23. Wow that’w a low blow. I planned on spending an extra night around SFO just to take advantage of the Chauffeur. But if they will outright lie to you Sam I don’t think they really care what you think. They probably know you are getting a great value and will book them again with or without a chauffeur. That kind of deception will lead me to not book them again and instead book Etihad who has a better product anyway.

  24. Something similar. Last week I was flying BKK to HKG and was asked by the Emirates agent if I would like chauffeur service. They confirmed it to me in writing. The day before the flight I got an email that they did not give chauffeur service on that flight and I should have read that on their website. I spoke with several people at Emirates and said that their policy notwithstanding, they should abide by what their employees told me, especially so late in the day. I had already passed on complimentary chauffeur service from my hotel in Hong Kong which would have taken me through customs and passport since I could use it on my way from Hong Kong instead. The purser on the flight tried to get me help but by then it was too late. Left a very bad taste in my mouth about Emirates.

  25. Don’t see my booked chauffeur service for my flight on jan 26 in F. ( used points pro)
    So if Alaska will not get F awards anymore on emirates is there any other approach? JAL mile bank?

  26. @ Sam — Have spoken to a few people even high up, and there’s no way to have the chauffeur service reinstated unless they have a change of heart.

  27. 1K –

    Son, if you think this is just a hobby then you misunderstand the situation.

    You see, not all of us are self-important d-bags like yourself, who think your opinion matters more than most simply because your employer pays for your ticket. Here’s a little secret from the other side of the desk, you’re not nearly as important to your company as you think you are. The vast majority of employees that really matter, aren’t on the road.

    I really don’t understand the sheepish nature of those on this site. They act as if we are gaming the system and really aren’t entitled to the benefits we receive. Miles have real value. Credit Card companies typically charge 1.5% to 3% on every transaction. I have a tremendous amount of credit spend each year (both personal and business related), and as a result of my patronage and the aforementioned fees, I have a choice on what type of reward I receive (miles or cash primarily). Miles have real value. Credit Card spend is the primary reason several airlines are still operating today. Miles have real value. There’s a reason flight attendants are constantly pitching co-branded credit cards. Miles have real value.

    Do I think that we are getting a bargain on the value of the miles? Absolutely, otherwise I would take the cash-back…. but that’s how every business/personal decision should be made. If the airlines don’t like the value they are getting, they can raise their redemption levels (as they’ve done many, many times). Hell, I’m even fine with them creating fare rules that limit benefits to award tickets. Just don’t do it retroactively.

    Under what scenario is this ok? With any business/consumer transaction? We had an agreement, they decided they didn’t like the agreement, and they changed it without my consent and without compensation. And worse, they discriminated against who they violated the agreement with.

    Call me entitled all you want, what’s right is right, and you are a coward.

  28. Lucky, you have become my favorite blogger by far!!! if it wasn’t for this post I would have probably been in a big mess come next week. I booked my chauffeur service and even got the email confirmation but now the service doesn’t show up in my booking. How tacky of Emirates, the least they could do is send out an email notifying people of the cancellation.

  29. An update on my most recent experience – although being told my service was cancelled after ringing up the day before, halfway to jfk in our own self funded car service I got a call from an Emirates agent saying the car was on location and did I not need it anymore. I explained the situation and he was apologetic about the confusion. Anyway, given this ‘cancellation’ didn’t seem to have passed to the limo service, upon disembarking in Singapore on our second leg of the journey I played dumb there saying I couldn’t remember if I made a booking or not. Sure enough my name was still on the list and they honoured the drop off chauffer. So whilst the contact staff and online seem to have changed there may still be a small window for honouring this somehow.

  30. Definitely a little bummed. I had a three hour drive from Dubai to Qasr Al Sarab booked up and planned my trip with that in mind.

    Any chance that by March, ground limo services might still honour these bookings, ie. that our names might still be on the list? Would appreciate updates on this, btw thanks @Faelmor !

  31. I’m considering filing a DOT complaint, as the conditions and benefits of my ticket were changed after booking. I’m fine with this change going forward, I just don’t appreciate retroactive changes with no notification.

  32. This happened to my friend. To vent his frustration, he is going to vandalize the facilities in the bathroom and the lounge.

  33. A direct message from my Tweet to @EmiratesSupport 2 days ago regarding my transport later this month with a reservation made in mid-Decmber. It’s official and its retroactive.

    “Hi Bruce, thanks for the details. The chauffeur drive service will no longer be offered for Skywards Partner reward bookings. All… 1/2

    …customers affected have been noted & will be contacted. Please let us know if you have any queries. 2/2
    01:25 AM – 16 Jan 15”

  34. Would never rely on Emirates car service as they don’t always show up. When we called to complain we were told that they cancelled the reservation when we were op-up’d from C -> F. Yeah, that makes sense. And then no car showed up when we arrived on DXB-SFO and there is no transport rep on the ground at SFO. Fortunately I had the local dispatch # but took another 30m for the car to arrive.

    Personally I do not like anything about Emirates but YMMV. And their reputation is not good for irrops.

  35. What it looks like they’ve done to retroactively cancel the chauffeur service is they cancelled the ticket numbers for the bookings made prior to 1/1/15, and then re-issued them post 1/1/15 (1/6/15 in my case). Anyone know the legality of them doing this without permission. I see my miles redeposited on the date of original purchase (11/13/14), and then re-taken out on 1/6/15, now with new ticket numbers. Anyone else see the same?

  36. I Agree with all those that say you cant retro this change. I’m in the same boat. I’m traveling in FEB but booked these tickets on 2 OCT. I had this planned out for a long time and the Chauffeur Drive service was a big part of my decision to fly Emirates as I’m going to Abu Dhabi when I land in Dubai. We will have a lot of luggage as well and I’m concerned about all this fitting into on taxi as well as the comfort in trying to cram in one. If you were to book a S Class Sedan to take you to Abu Dhabi round trip, I think it will cost you well north of $600.

    In my case I received no notification from Alaska or Emirates. I only found out because I went to change my existing Chauffeur Drive reservation and it was gone. Upon contacting Emirates is when I found out of the change. I tried to get an exception and the supervisor said he would call me back or e-mail, a week and a half passed and I had no communication. So I called back again and was told that my exception request was denied. I did not see the miles deposited and re issued in my Alaska account. Frankly, I understand why they are doing this and they can do whatever they want, it’s their company. However, you can’t change an agreement once we have one in place. If this was allowed in business, the world would be chaos.

    Anyone else have any luck or any ideas on how to get this back for tickets that were already ticketed? I fly business class a lot for personal and business travel. I will definitely remember this experience with Emirates when I’m making future travel decisions.

  37. UPDATE as of 1/27/15

    After 2 weeks of trying to work it out directly with Emirates and to get Alaska to try and help to no avail, I resorted to my last course of action.

    I filed a complaint with the DOT. In my case I had tickets that were ticketed in First on 2 OCT 2014. My contention was I paid for a ticket (how in this case at the time of booking was irrelevant) with certain services and then the carrier changed the terms on me without notice in violation of their terms of carriage posted on their website.

    I provided my e-ticket number along with my Emirates booking confirmation code to the DOT representative that contacted me right away after filing the complaint. He agreed with me that I had a legitimate issue with them but said he couldn’t force them to comply, only issue a violation if they did not remedy the situation. Within 2 days Emirates reversed course and gave me the Chauffeur Drive. Sad it took all that to get them to do the right thing. I wouldn’t have cared but in my case it was going to cost me well over $600 one way for a large sedan to drive me to Abu Dhabi, so I’m glad I did.

    Best of luck to everyone else!

  38. I just logged in to EK and found that my Chauffeur service is back and shows confirmed! i booked in October with AS

  39. @Matt – thanks for sharing/doing what you did —- it may be that and a bunch of actions that others took that reinstated the Chauffeur service. Just logged-in and surprised to see that the confirmations are back.

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