How To Still Get Emirates Chauffeur On Alaska Award Tickets

At the beginning of the year I wrote about how Emirates eliminated chauffeur service for those booking through partner airlines.

Emirates has always been among the most generous airlines with chauffeur service, and has offered it free of charge to first and business class passengers regardless of the type of ticket or where they booked. In other words, even award tickets booked through partner airlines qualified for a complimentary chauffeur service.

Emirates-Chauffeur

However, as of 2015, only tickets issued through Emirates and Qantas qualify for chauffeur service. It’s an unfortunate though justifiable change.

What I find unjustifiable, however, is that Emirates decided to make the change retroactive:

  • Emirates never actually announced the policy change on chauffeur service
  • The service was canceled even for those that made bookings before the policy change and already had chauffeur service confirmed
  • Emirates didn’t actually communicate to passengers that their chauffeur was canceled, which makes for an ugly surprise

Personally I don’t think it’s a battle worth fighting, though that didn’t stop some from filing complaints with the DOT (which I find to to be counter productive in this case).

Anyway, I flew Emirates first class from Dallas to Dubai yesterday, which was an award ticket I booked just a couple of days before departure. Obviously I wasn’t able to reserve a chauffeur since the policy change.

Emirates has a chauffeur “center” in the arrivals hall of Dubai Airport, so usually you present your boarding pass and they give you a slip for the chauffeur service you had reserved.

However, in the past I’ve always had luck just showing up at the desk and presenting my boarding pass to get a chauffeur, even without having made a reservation.

Emirates-Chauffeur-2

This morning I went to the chauffeur desk upon arrival, and presented my first class boarding pass (for a ticket issued through Alaska). After typing for a few seconds the agent asked where I wanted to go. I told her where, and she printed me a slip. A few minutes later we were in a Mercedes enroute to Abu Dhabi.

Emirates-Chauffeur

I can’t guarantee it will work for everyone, but on arrival in Dubai it does still seem like it’s still possible to use the chauffeur service on a partner ticket.

Obviously this won’t work on departure or at any other station, though (it works in Dubai because they have dozens of cars sitting around at a time, while at outstations they’re specifically assigned to reservations). And it could have just been that I got an agent that wasn’t familiar with the new rules. On the plus side, there was nothing in the computer that prevented her from offering it to me.

Would be curious to hear if anyone else has luck with this!

Comments

  1. Ha Lucky you saved around $100/- on your DXB to AUH drive!

    At DXB airport just upon presenting the boarding card the chauffeur service is offered. This will work in future too as the agents at the desk do not verify on which ticket the pax is travelling. They just go by the business/first class info on the boarding card. As rightly said it won’t work at other stations.

    You could use the iPad emirates app to check whether this would work for departure as well. In the app once you enter the booking reference and add your trip in the my trip option the info on your eligibility for chauffeur service shows up and you could make the resevation.

  2. Sorry, I think that is a legit point. Your critical reply of my seemingly accurate point shows that you, in fact, must have friend-less (if there is, in fact, a correlation between friends and accurate posts?).

  3. This makes sense. I’ve done that before as well but my EK tix weren’t from Alaska. EK probably owns all those black cars at the chauffeur desk whereas in other cities they outsource it to the local car service companies.
    Safe travels with your mom!

  4. @mark – I’m very sorry, but I’m sick of the topic police. Yes, this is super important. The chauffeur service is a very important supplement to the EK F experience and saves you up to $100. This post just saved a few people a hundred bucks and it didn’t hurt you, did it?

  5. We had some confusion yesterday prior to our JFK-DXB flight. As we were on our way to JFK in our paid limo ride, I got a text from our cancelled driver from Boston Coach (hired by Emirates). Even though I was told via tweet from Emirates that our ride was cancelled retroactively, in reality it was not. He was waiting for us at the designated pick up location.

  6. @Mark. You don’t have to read this stuff if it doesn’t affect you. It effected me and my wife. (Unfortunately in a negative way). I was a better off not asking Emirates, but I didn’t want to be stuck waiting for a ride that never came and then have to scramble to try to get to JFK.

  7. Regarding the chauffeur, whether we get it or not. Do we have to tip them? If we do, what is the appropriate amount?

  8. @mark – What do you have against Emirates and their Chauffeur service? The last article he wrote about it you said the same thing. If you read the title to this post it is pretty obvious it is about the same thing you complained about last time, so why bother opening it and even more commenting on it?

  9. @mark
    It might not impact you but it definitely impacts many people. You don’t have to click on and read the topic, then take the time to comment on it if it doesn’t impact you. You’re not the only one who reads this blog.

    Thanks for the heads up Lucky!

  10. I had luck on a Qantas First ticket (booked with Advantage miles) LHR-DXB back in December. Went to the counter you mentioned and was in a car within 10min. Saved me at least $100usd for my transit.

    @mark. you stink!!

  11. I posted on Jan 12th that my chauffeur drive bookings were cancelled for my arrival on Jan 14th in DXB from DFW. This trip was an AS award ticket and the chauffeur drive bookings were made in October. I had talked to EK representatives in both Dubai and NYC about getting complimentary bookings; however, they did not override the “policy”. Both representatives in Dubai and NYC acknowledged that the policy was not posted anywhere and were surprisingly unapologetic.

    However, on arrival in DXB I thought I would at least ask at the chauffeur drive desk as I saw a huge fleet of cars outside sitting doing nothing and no passengers in a queue. I went to the chauffeur drive desk, provided by first class ticket stub, and was given the magic slip and was off in about 2 minutes.

    I agree there didn’t seem to be any discussion between the three EK representatives at the first class desk about whether I should be provided this or not. They just typed in some things into the computer, asked where I was going and gave me the slip of paper. This saved over US$120 on my transfer.

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

  13. You write that complaining to the DOT as “counterproductive”.

    You got a post-purchase increase (to get the same thing you purchase now you have to pay $100 or whatever in cash for the transit you had already purchased). The DOT is the entity that the US Congress has tasked to enforce the prohibition of such unfair practices.

    The complaints seem quite appropriate and warranted. Why do you seem to disagree?

    Emirates could, and should, have said: for tickets purchased from (today or future date), the policy is now … To eliminate transport retroactively is patently unfair.

  14. @ John Tarik — Except the contract of carriage you entered into with Alaska didn’t entitle you to chauffeur service. You’re asking the DOT to regulate something which ultimately amounts to a customer unfriendly policy, but is not a breach of DOT terms.

  15. I made a booking last September for the flight next month (2/11 SEA-DXB-HKG) for a family of 4. It had to be done in 4 separate bookings through AS of course, two in first and two in business. I initially made chauffeur bookings for my wife and may be for my older daughter and left at that. Just found out this news. I don’t see no booking options for my self or younger daughter. On older daughter, I only see 1 option for booking instead of 3 I saw before (2 at DXB stop over and 1 at HKG) and it gives me error if I tried to book it. but to my surprise, my wife’s booking still shows all 3 chauffeur bookings with all confirmed status. What gives? Would they still honor these? if so, chances of them allowing all of us to ride the same car on just my wife’s bookings? This is a huge disappointments… I am talking $300 plus in additional transportation cost…

  16. @ Mark,
    Although I don’t plan on taking an Emirates chauffer soon, I find this post interesting. You just have to think bigger than the Emirates example. We all play this travel hacking game where we are all constantly probing the systems of travel purveyors to see what we can get away with. We try to get into lounges where entry policies are ambiguous. We book free one ways on award tickets with stopovers in our home town. We convince clueless agents to give us routings that are contrary to published rules. We buy cash equivalents with credit cards that prohibit that activity in their T&Cs. Lucky’s story is an example of a company changing a policy, but not following up on the back end to actually change their computer systems or training procedures to enforce the policy. This type of situation is pervasive in the travel industry. Every little nugget of information like this helps all travel hackers to discover similar loopholes elsewhere.

  17. Ben,

    What was your backup plan if this didn’t work? I know Abu Dhabi is about an hour trip, so just curious.

  18. Just came back from the trip and I am happy to report that all my chauffeur services, two at Dubai and one at Hong Kong were provided without issue or questions.

  19. Data point from today: Booked AS award in EK F in late January (so I wouldn’t qualify for chauffeur). Upon arrival this evening, I tried to get a car and was told that it wasn’t included in my ticket. Agent took my boarding pass and presumably looked it up in their system. So YMMV unless they’ve closed this loophole altogether.

  20. Additional data point: emirates provided a car from dxb on a Alaska F award ticket. I lost my stub but was able to just give my name to the desk attendent. Was on my way in 2 mins. I booked the res back in the fall of 2014.

    Also, was able to get lounge access at SFO without question. In fact, it was printed on my BP!

  21. Tried getting a car upon arrival at DXB, and the chauffeur desk told me their system specifically said my ticket was not eligible for chauffeur service.

    On a side note, I had no problems using the lounge at DXB, though the lounge asked if my ticket was issued through Alaska before letting me in.

  22. I’d be curious if anyone has any more recent experiences with this. I have an upcoming trip (booked as an Alaska award) and when I view the reservation on the Emirates website, it still says “2 passengers are eligible for Chauffeur Drive.” It allows me to submit the request, but then returns with an error message that instructs me to try again later. Perhaps this is because it’s an Alaska award ticket, but it seems like an oversight that the website that still says “eligible for chauffeur drive” and “try again later.” Has this been everyone else’s experience as well?

    I also did this in December 2014, and even then the Alaska site had a disclaimer that Chauffeur Drive would not be included, but we had no problem reserving cars online for both DXB and CDG.

    @Phillip @Dan
    Has lounge access ever been in question? I just assumed that it was always supposed to be included, but maybe I’ve missed something.

  23. @ Taylor — There was a technical glitch whereby Alaska tickets showed as staff tickets for the purposes of lounge access. You’re supposed to be allowed access, but there were just issues with how tickers were coded for those purposes.

  24. We will be booking Rome to Dubai then Dubai to LAX. In fc I am looking forward to the fc lounge experience. We are using Alaska miles, I am reading conflicted information wether or not we will be allowed in Emerates first class lounges.

  25. @ Tracy Leigh — You absolutely should be allowed access. Alaska award tickets are accidentally coded as staff travel, but after a bit of digging the agent should realize they aren’t. So it could take a couple of minutes to get into the lounge, but you shouldn’t be denied.

  26. Another data point – yesterday we flew sfo dxb in first and got lounge access in sfo (printed on bp) and also got car to the hotel by visiting the chauffeur service in dxb. Off to Rome in 2 days from here hoping to get lounge access at dxb airport.

  27. @Gaurav – Good to hear and thanks for the info. I’ll be traveling CDG-DXB-SFO in September and hope to get the chauffeur service as well.

  28. Any updates about getting the Chauffer at DXB these days (included with an Alaska airline mileage booking) Anyone?

  29. I am flying Emirates First and have a stopover in Dubai for a day. Has anyone attempted arranging return service from the hotel back to the airport using this method on arrival at DXB?

  30. Didn’t work in DXB on Dec. 1. They call up someone of the phone to investigate whether it’s a partner award ticket then curtly declare you’re ineligible. That’s it.

  31. Ugh, just found out about this. What’s next? No bubbly or access to the shower? “Sorry, you’re ineligible to drink Dom Perignon. Here’s some prosecco.” Etihad had no such restrictions when I booked them in September with AAdvantage miles.

  32. Did not work today, 9/28/16. Tried to take a car to the Park Hyatt from DXB, they took boarding pass, did some typing, and said I was not eligible because it was an Alaska award ticket.

  33. @ Ajaikrish — You’re absolutely entitled to it, you just may have to remind them you’re on an Alaska ticket and not a staff ticket.

  34. I’m flying on a travel industry rate (if you knew what I paid you would all pay me to fly with you) but no chauffeur service or lounge access. I don’t care about the monetary value of the ground services, I’m flying it to a) get to Dubai comfortably and b) see and experience the product that I SELL.

    My NY team has worked around lounge access for my husband and I but said they have little influence in Dubai even for a pretty active travel advisor.

    Does anyone have any ideas how I can get access in Dubai?

    Also, when I log into my booking I see a spot to order chauffeur service. Is this correct or did my team here in NY surprise me?

    Thanks

  35. I’m flying tomorrow and wondering if I’ll be able to do this on a Japan Airlines Award ticket. Any datapoints? I guess I’ll do my best to report back with what I find

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