Nigerian passengers face discriminatory baggage charges from Emirates airline - BUSINESSDAY
Nigerian travelers or their relations who choose to fly Emirates Airline are being subject to discriminatory baggage charges especially for the final leg of trips terminating in Lagos or Abuja, Businessday investigations show.
The experience by many of the airlines passengers was noted on at least two trips with Emirates.
The routes predominantly flown by Asians, Europeans, North Americans are not subjected to weighing of hand luggage, but the policy suddenly comes into effect on the route to Africa, majorly targeting Nigeria where it airlifted circa 3million passengers on the Lagos-Dubai route in ten years.
“I was in Emirate flight from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Lagos with a stopover at Dubai. I had the same hand luggage on-board but to my greatest surprise when I was to connect to Lagos, I was asked to pay $300 as excess luggage while I did not buy even the duty free goods,” an angry passenger told BusinessDay at Dubai Airport, the hub of Emirates Airline. “This is a rip-off. I don’t blame the airline but I blame our government,” she said angrily.
While those flying non-African countries; and especially not Nigeria, are extended common courtesies, the opposite is often reserved for the average Nigerian passenger.
The worry among many travellers is that were the rules of the Airline are to be applied; it should be done evenly, and fairly. However, when such rules are reserved for Nigerians, it should be explicitly stated.
With the Yuletide fast approaching, industry stakeholders worry more Nigerians coming home from different part of the globe will still fall prey to this anomaly if the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority does not address this.
“We have to find out the Nigeria Protection Unit of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). They are the ones to be held responsible. I have heard Emirates is fond of charging Nigerian unnecessarily,” John Ojikutu member of aviation industry think tank group, Aviation Round Table (ART) and chief executive of Centurion Securities told BusinessDay.
“A friend of mine came back from England and routed through London on Emirates. When he was going to board on the London route, they came up with all manner of charges. He had a carry-on bag of something he bought from duty free shops. So, he had to return the goods because he could not afford to pay the charges they mentioned,” Ojikutu added.
Ojikutu said the NCAA needs to find out from Emirates the maximum weight for carry-on baggage they are giving to Nigerian passengers on Lagos routes on the Emirates flight.
“It depends on the commercial agreement NCAA has with Emirates. If this is against the commercial agreement between Nigeria and the airline, then NCAA should come out and put them in order. If they are not doing this to other passengers on those same routes, then NCAA has to order Emirates to return the passengers’ money to them,” he added.
However, Businessday gathered that First Class and Business Class customers of Emirates are permitted two pieces of carry-on baggage: one briefcase plus either one handbag or one garment bag.
The briefcase may not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20cm); the handbag may not exceed 22 x 15 x 8 inches (55 x 38 x 20cm); the garment bag can be no more than 8 inches (20cm) thick when folded. The weight of each piece must not exceed 7kg (15lb).
Economy Class customers are permitted one (1) piece of carry-on baggage that should not exceed 22 x 15 x 8 inches (55 x 38 x 20cm) and must weigh no more than 7kg (15lb).
Also corroborating this discrimination, BusinessDay correspondent observed on two different trips this year with the airline, that the rules applied to Nigeria bound passengers are not consistent with what other passengers on different routes are subjected to.
For instance, flying to Nigeria from the John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, through the Milan Airport, passengers are checked in without hassles. On boarding from Dubai to Lagos, the airline’s baggage policy is suddenly put into effect.
Whereas a passenger was not subjected to these at the point of departure in either New York or Milan where any possible excess luggage could have been determined and checked in, this is used as an entrapment at the final leg in Dubai where passengers will have to part with fees of up to $500 (or more), else they miss their flight.
In an emailed response by Engy Fahmy of Emirates Customer affairs, the airline stated that “We do respect your portrayal of the facts in respect to the boarding procedures, and that we take note of every concern raised by our customers. We thank you for your valuable feedback which has been conveyed to the relevant Management for their internal review to concerns raised.”
In a subsequent follow up for the airline to provide clarification on the incident, the airline still refused to directly address the issue.
The airline said “Emirates is made up of over 165 different nationalities, and in that diversity is where much of our success lies. We are serving with pride more than 20 destinations in the African continent, within Emirates’ network of more than 145 destinations across six continents. Having thoroughly investigated your comments, our findings reveal that there is no evidence of discrimination whatsoever.”
Pressed to specifically address why different rules apply to passengers on other routes against the company’s publicly stated policy on non-discrimination, the Public Relations unit of the airline declined further comment.
Iheanyi Nwachukwu, Ifeoma Okeke, and Caleb Ojewale