Lawsuit: Business Class Seat Didn’t Meet His Expectations

by SharonKurheg

When you fly business class, you usually experience a certain level of service, comfort and amenities. Before the flight, you may get priority check-in, security and boarding, and you probably get lounge access, as well. Once you’re on the plane, you get to sit in the “up front seats” so you can disembark faster than the rest of the plane. You’ll usually be offered an amenities kit and have dedicated overhead space. Your seat is usually larger and more comfortable than what you’d find in coach, and it might convert into a lie-flat or angle flat bed. You can also usually expect complimentary alcoholic beverages, and enhanced food options.

Brodie Chapman, age 20, runs a wholesale energy firm and splits his time between Perth, Western Australia, and the UK. He had a certain expectation of what he would get during his Emirates flight from Oslo Airport (OSL) to Dubai International Airport (DXB) in April 2023. But he claimed he didn’t get that, despite paying $3,240 for his business class seat. So he’s suing the airline for nearly $5,000.

Chapman told Daily Mail Australia that, ““They advertise this fancy product – the [newer] 777 or the A380 – and this plane I got on was absolutely disgusting.”

“It’s a plane they don’t advertise – it was around 23 years old,” he continued. “None of the services they advertise or offer were available. The seats were grubby, there were socks stuck down the side of my chair, it didn’t recline properly, one of the screens didn’t work, there were stains on the seat.”

Chapman says he flies on Emirates up to 20 times per year, but the plane he was on  last month, which appeared to be one of the airline’s older 777 fleet, was a “misrepresentation of the brand.”

“I pay more money to fly with Emirates than other carriers because they are meant to offer more luxury and comfort. But if the product they are advertising bears no relation to what you are actually receiving – I don’t think it’s really fair,” said Chapman.

When he complained to Emirates, the airline’s reply was: “…We also do specify on our website that products and services may vary on actual flights depending on routes and aircraft configuration and that operational requirements may cause last minute changes to the aircraft used on scheduled flights.”

They offered him compensation of 20,000 Skyward Miles. Nerdwallet values those at about 3 cents per mile, or roughly $600.

Brodie thinks he’s due more compensation than that, so he’s suing.

It may or may not be a coincidence that the month before Brodie’s unfortunate flight, a surgeon from New Zealand, Mark Morgan, took Emirates to court with a very similar complaint.

The country’s Disputes Tribunal (that’s the Kiwi version of small claims court) awarded Morgan $12,600 after the court found he and his his wife’s awful business class experience from Auckland to London last August was nothing like what the airline had advertised.

During their flight, they said their seats were worn out, not as cushioned as the ones shown in Emirates’ advertising, and didn’t recline to lie flat. Their flight also had no mini-bar, internet connection or USB ports. Morgan also claimed the IFE system didn’t work.

“Across the world, they’ve only got about ten out of 130 or 140 planes that have been upgraded to the 777 plane,” said Morgan. “Almost 90% of people aren’t going to experience the adverts they are using across the world to show that upgraded cabin.”

Morgan said he tried to settle his claim through the airline’s customer service center but claimed he was “brushed off.”

He then emailed the president of the airline, Tim Clark, but again didn’t feel as if he had been heard. The same thing happened when he tried to contact other Emirates representatives. He wasn’t asking for much; just a small compensation (that, by the way, was less than what he eventually awarded in court) and he would consider the matter closed.

‘I was driven by a sense of unfairness,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. So he finally decided to sue.

“If I succeeded it would generate negative press for Emirates,” he said. Besides that, “whether or not I was going to win I just wanted to use up some of the CEO’s time because I knew it had to be him representing Emirates at the tribunal, even if it was just over telephone conference.

‘To have the satisfaction of saying to the person involved that this is bloody unacceptable, it p***ed me off and you are in the wrong.

“Being able to just say that – whether I had won or lost – was enough. It wasn’t about the amount of compensation – that money had gone, as far as I was concerned.”

The lawsuit got a lot of publicity, and at the time, Morgan suggested that other passengers had reached out to him for advice, and that his experience of being so misled might pave the way for similar claims.

Based on Brodie Chapman’s lawsuit just a month after Morgan’s win, apparently so.

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