A New Zealand court has fined the United Arab Emirates airline for “misleading” advertising of its business class flight.
The decision by the Dispute Resolution Tribunal sets a precedent for how airlines can promote in-flight experiences.
Emirates Airline has been ordered to pay $8,440 to Mark Morgan, a New Zealand resident who challenged Emirates for falsely advertising its services in New Zealand.
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Morgan claimed that he and his wife New Zealand Before buying a business class ticket for a trip to the UK, saw advertisements for flat-bed seats with minibars and state-of-the-art entertainment systems.
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However, instead of the promised product, Morgan’s flight was a 300-777 ER with the oldest business class product.
These seats do not have minibars, nor are they fully flat. Morgan argued that this was false advertising, as Emirates does not actually advertise the product it actually offers to New Zealanders.
Emirates claimed that it had the right to modify the type of aircraft operating on certain routes due to operational requirements, as the type of aircraft is not guaranteed under its customer contract.
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Additionally, the airline maintains that it should use this particular aircraft for its New Zealand route as it is currently unprofitable.
Disputes tribunal referee Laura Müller sided with the passengers, ruling that “this was the result of advertising a service they were providing infrequently, not an occasional or one-off change of aircraft due to operational requirements.” “
“The promotional material was based on an up-to-date new business class seat and service that is not available on Emirates’ older aircraft to New Zealand,” he said.
“The Fair Trading Act 1986 prohibits misleading and deceptive practices in trade. Advertising a service that Emirates knew was unlikely to provide is misleading and deceptive.”
Emirates claimed that the quality of service offered was only 5% below what was advertised and offered a refund of $484.
However, Morgan sought a partial refund of the ticket price as well as the price paid for the first-class travel. The Dispute Tribunal ordered the airline to refund $8,440.
On the other hand, 6 changes were made to the famous livery of the airline while giving a new look to the Emirates planes.
The new design will be gradually rolled out across the airline’s fleet and 24 aircraft will be given the new livery by the end of 2023.