Since many people are sending me e-mails and asking me about confusing denied boarding procedure in Emirates Airline I will try to clarify things here.
Denied boarding in Emirates Airline is different than in Europe or USA. In UAE they don’t have to pay you a compensation if you don’t get a seat on the booked flight.
The whole procedure is called “The freedom to choose” (and there is even a brochure with the same name that you get from your EK agent), while there is nothing to choose, actually.
This is what happens in economy class denied boarding counters:
If the flight is “overbooked” (it means that EK sold more tickets than there are seats in the plane) you will be asked to volunteer to take the next available flight. Now, there is a discrepancy between what the brochure says and what the company actually does. Brochure says that if you agree to be a volunteer you are eligible for 100 AED duty free voucher (higher value for higher classes). If you get the seat on the booked flight after the flight closure time, you will get a boarding pass and an opportunity to spend the duty free voucher air-side or on board. If your boarding is denied at the flight closure time (there is no seat for you), besides the duty free voucher, you get a free ticket (same as your booked one) and, under certain conditions, a free hotel room, transport to the hotel and a telephone call.
If you don’t want to volunteer, staff will try to find you a seat on your booked flight, since non-volunteers have higher priority than volunteers to get the seat.
In reality, volunteers often get nothing for their volunteering, except the free ticket (and a hotel/transport/call), which already belongs to them anyway (by the law). It turns out that it is better not to volunteer during the denied boarding procedure since non-volunteers have more chances to get the seat on the booked flight and in the case they don’t get it, the compensation is the same like for those who volunteered.
I guess you have to ask for the brochure and read it carefully if you are denied boarding in EK.
Hope this helps.