In the past few days Dubai International Airport was a stage of a human drama. Passenger was held at the airport for 6 days until he was released to travel back home. This passenger was forced to ask for help by writing a comment on this blog, so I have decided to help him after he wrote me a second e-mail.
This situation has raised a lot of questions, but the most important ones are:
Can Emirates Airline (or any other airline) hold a passenger as a prisoner?
Does Emirates Airline (EK) have the right to keep anyone in detention until that person does what EK is asking them to do?
By every definition this situation is called a “blackmail” and “keeping a hostage for a ransom”, because in civilized company there is a contract between a customer and a company. In case that one of the parties doesn’t fulfil the terms and conditions* from the contract, other party can sue or call a police or other stated authority.
In this case, Emirates Airline decided to hold a passenger for several days at the airport until he fulfils terms and conditions* of their contract (in this case, EK was forcing a passenger to retroactively pay for the flight that deported him to Dubai back from Australia, after EK staff told him that his deportation will be paid by the company and after the passenger notified the EK staff that he doesn’t have the money to pay for this ticket). During the whole process passenger was lied to, interrogated and, finally, sent home after several sleepless nights at the airport.
Why Emirates airline managers decided not to call the police or sue the passenger? I suppose because they are used to bully people and scare them to do things they want them to do.
These are the comments made in favour of Emirates Airline (and my responses to them). You decide if this world went completely insane if one company can take away freedom of its customers who committed no crime.
In EK’s favour:
Sadly not illegal, but recommended practice. Not EK alone thats just the industry. And as far as deportation rules are concerned they send you back to where you came from. In this case Dubai; doesn’t matter if he had a return ticket to Tahiti with Easy Jet. He has to go back to Dubai and unless theres no flight with emirates within 24 hours of deportation decision being made then he has to fly Emirates. (this is all in ICAO and IATA).
All costs are Edgar’s liability its in the terms and conditions. People you can scream bloody murder all you want but if you don’t agree to the contract don’t buy the ticket.
(insert here paranoid delusional statement that I am EK management bully and paid to post etc. etc.)
nobody here actually argued that these are not the rules, we talked about the abuse of these rules.
- Edgar was told that EK will pay for his ticket, so he was deceived
- His passport was held by the company instead by the immigration authority
- Contract between a passenger and airline does state that pax has to pay for a deportation, but it doesn’t state holding a passenger as a hostage until he pays
Does this contract says what are legal means to use if passenger refuses to pay?
In EK’s favour:
A. One may say deceived, one may say victim of incompetence.
B. Dubai Authorities have no legal right to hold his passport at all and are not a party to his deportation or his monetary conflict. the most they can do is dictate what sort of care he should receive (e.g. the meal vouchers), or arrest him for breach of contract or being unable to pay his bills so to speak (absolutely not a better alternative). On a side note Dubai Airports do have staff whose job it is to try and sort out these sorts of conflicts between passengers and airlines. Perhaps he can try to avail himself to these individuals.
C. Holding passenger hostage is very emotive language, intended to illicit certain emotional reactions, rather than a rational argument. I do not condone these actions but sadly EK (and the industry at large) are well within their rights, in these cases. Otherwise it wouldn’t happen.
This is a daily occurrence globally not a one off situation; you want to alert the media go ahead lets see who picks it up. And its not because of the all powerful EK machine threatening and using its titan like might to silence the media. Its because it happens everywhere and they’re not doing anything illegal. Whether it be unethical or immoral is a matter for debate.
And as to your final point; Yes in Dubai as in a lot of places you refuse to pay your bills you go to jail… is that what you really want for Edgar?
So, as I understand the situation, EK told Edgar that they will pay for his ticket back home and, therefore, they lied to him. Then EK has detainedhim at the airport for 6 days, forcing him to pay the bill. Tell me just one thing: who is EK to keep anyone in detention?
It was better for EK if they called Dubai authorities or Dubai Airports staff immediately after Edgar refused to pay, because they are the ones who, actually, have the authority to deal with it. Even if it means that Edgar could be arrested. At least he would be arrested by someone who has the right to do it. EK has no rights to arrest the passenger (which is what EK actually did in this case).
You still didn’t answer my question about legal means that EK can take after a passenger refuses to pay for ticket, stated in the contract?
You have hold a passenger for ransom. That is the only way to describe what you did. You took the justice in your hands (instead turning to legal authority), forcing a man, who didn’t commit any crime, to sleep on your chairs for 5 or so nights.
Me contacting newspapers? 🙂 You have got it wrong. My goal was to free Edgar from EK’s claws. This blog IS a form of newspapers. I am really surprised that you haven’t got it so far.
Edgar has the final word on your treatment of him. I am not interfering in that.
Also, whose “victim of incompetence”? EK staff’s?
* We don’t know these terms and conditions yet, since Emirates Airline didn’t provide a copy of a contract between them and a passenger nor answered our question about legal means which company can apply in these cases.