I recently traveled to Dubai on holiday with a connection in Hong Kong. Upon arrival in Hong Kong, I was told that I wouldn't be allowed to board the plane without a medical clearance as I was in a wheelchair and traveling alone.
I am a healthy, active, independent person, who has traveled around the world (usually alone) and I have never once been told I need a medical clearance to fly. To add to the whole insanity of the matter was the fact that I had contacted Emirates three weeks prior to departure to inform them I was in a wheelchair, and that the only assistance I would need is an aisle chair to get to my seat. I was told at that time that my request had been noted in my reservation and nothing further was required. During that conversation, I also made sure to reserve a window seat so as not to inconvenience anyone next to me and have someone constantly stepping over me.
Despite my due diligence, an hour before my Dubai departure, I was told that I would not be allowed to fly as I did not have medical clearance, and that my seat had to be changed to an aisle seat as that is Emirates policy. I have NEVER been told I needed a medical clearance to fly, and I always sit in the window. I immediately got online to see what the H they were talking about and found that Emirate's policy didn't even apply to me or my circumstance. There was no legitimate reason to not let me fly.
I asked the Emirates representative exactly what was required--that my doctor could fax anything necessary, but was told only "wait over there". I waited for 45 minutes until my plane was about to leave, and finally told the woman that I intended to file a complaint and left to find my gate. Once there, I told the Emirates representatives that if they didn't let me board, I would file a formal complaint. After a lot of shuffling back and forth, they finally let me board, but I was the last person on the plane and it was a humiliating way to start my vacation.
THEN, on my return flight back through Hong Kong, the Emirates pilot was unable land in HKG and we were forced to land in a local airport to refuel. We were not allowed off the plane for several hours, no one came to check on us or offer us anything to eat. This 7-hour flight became a 14-hour one, and we didn't get to Hong Kong until after 1:30am. I missed my connecting flight, and was told the earliest available flight left at 8:30 the next day, causing me to miss work.
There were flights they could have booked me on as early as 6:30, but they wouldn't book me on any of them. Even worse, they put everyone who missed their connecting flight into a hotel for the evening, but I had to stay in the airport because I was "in a wheelchair and traveling alone." I had to sleep on a cot in the "lounge" without change of clothes or access to any restrooms/showers. I was given a toothbrush and a towel for a blanket, and wasn't allowed to eat in the food area since food wasn't included in the crappy"lounge package" Emirates provided. I felt completely discriminated against.
There was no reason why I shouldn't have been allowed to stay in a hotel for the night. In the morning, I was given a food voucher worth the equivalent of about $8, enough to buy a coffee and a piece of bread. I was left with a horrible experience flying with Emirates. I am tempted to cancel my upcoming trip with them in June and fly with Cathay instead.
I submitted a complaint with Emirates through their web-based system, but never received a reply or apology. I am very disappointed by this airline and am looking into filing a formal complaint with the Air Consumer Protection Division.
Product or Service Mentioned: Emirates Airlines Flight Attendant.
Monetary Loss: $10000.