I went for Hajj in October 2013. My tour operator told me that I would be flying via Emirates. I am not very well travelled but on a few occasions have travelled by Emirates and liked their service. So I though it would be a pleasant journey, but I was proven utterly wrong. First of all the sight of Hajis in white Ihram appeared quite repelling to the Airline steward and stewardesses. They did not say a word but you could see it in their eyes. The service was as if they were really tired and wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. Smiling faces were quite unseen, throughout the whole flight.
All Emirates flights have to make a stop at Dubai and so we stopped there for less than an hour. During that time the pilgrims had to change their dress, actually wear Ihram and make Wudu, before boarding. Some of us had already changed in to Ihram from Islamabd Airport so we just had to make Wudu and offer two Nafals as Niyat of Ihram. But we were in for a surprise. There was just one lonely mismanaged, gate for Hajj flights destined for Saudi Arab. And the wash rooms were too scarce for the pilgrims to change or make Wudu. The point is, Emirates is making money by transporting Hajis to the Holy Land so it can and should spend some more money and make enough wash rooms and changing places for the Hajis. From Dubai to Saudi Arab the attitude of flight crew was no different.
On my way back my flight had to make a stop at Dubai for over 14 hours so Emirates Airlines was going to provide me boarding, transport and food, including the Visa for Dubai. For this we had to get coupons from Emirates counter in Saudia, which were not provided due to some computer malfunction. The Saudi staff told us that we would get our coupons from the Dubai counter. When we got to Dubai, we were ushered to a separate area where we encountered a very rude staff comprising of various nationalities. It was as if the Emirates people were really tired of pilgrims and didn’t want to help anyone. To make matters worse, the coupons were printed in a way that couples were split from their original partners. My wife was given a coupon with someone else and I had someone’s mother’s name on my coupon,. When we contacted the staff they blamed it not on the Emirates staff at Saudi Airport but on our travel agent. It was such a good display of throwing blame on others. The staff was most non-cooperative and finally told us to stay at the Airport if we did not want to go out. Imagine the plight of pilgrims who after travelling for nine hours including pre-departure formalities were now dead tired and badly needed rest.
So finally we all got out of the Airport each of us posing as someone’s husband and someone else posing as our wives. To make matters worse, we were also booked in different hotels. Like my wife in one hotel and me in some other hotel. There was just no way of complaining to the staff or their manager. I have never seen such ucouth people. And I wished just there and then I was in my country. For whatever it lacks, my country never does this to me. Or if it does at least I can complain to someone about it. The utter feeling of helplessness was the worst feeling that I ever had. I wish these Arabs come to my country and I get an equal opportunity to ridicule them. We reached Dubai at 7 am and left the airport at around noon, dead tired. After that there was nothing to do but go to sleep, which I did.
It was one bad experience which I will never forget and so I have decided not to travel again by Emirates.